Archive for Digital Publishing News
The Philippines has become rather serious at combating book piracy in schools and on the consumer level. They are doing this to attract major publishers from Europe and the United States.
US based publishers have been unable to market their textbooks and print books to the Philippines because of sanctions imposed by the United States Trade Representatives 301 Report. This report basically establishes trade barriers due to flagrant abuses of intellectual property laws, such as copyright, patents and trademarks.
For the first time in twenty years due to anti-piracy measures being employed by the Intellectual Property Office and the National Book Development Board the Philippines has been removed from the 301 list.
The Philippines’ removal in the watch list does not mean it has eradicated book piracy. IP Philippines and its partners in government and in the private sector must continue to set-up effective mechanisms to protect IPRs including combating book piracy.
There are some big challenges in removing piracy altogether because there is a general acceptance. Organized crime are photocopying and scanning whole textbooks and selling them directly to schools, colleges and universities. These intuitions are aware that not all the textbooks they buy are genuine, but it is hard to tell the difference.
When Jeff Bezos purchased the Washington Post last year for $250 million, many people were wondering what role it would play on the Amazon ecosystem. There is a new Post app exclusively available on the Kindle Fire line of tablets. Users will get access to two editions per day which the editorial team for The Washington Post will release at 5 am ET and 5 pm ET.
The new app, with pre-loaded stories, pictures and even advertisements, was designed in close collaboration with Mr. Bezos, said Shailesh Prakash, The Post’s chief technology officer. “We talked to him constantly,” Mr. Prakash said, describing feedback Mr. Bezos gave to developers. “He’s our most active beta tester.”
The Washington Post app has been developed to replicate the experience of reading the paper as if it was in print, the “pinch view” feature in this app attempts to replicate that experience.
The app will be free for Kindle Fire owners for six months, and will then cost a dollar for the next six months. A version of the app will be available for Android and iOS operating systems next year, at $3.99 a month.
Liberio is a eBook publishing startup and has been quite vocal about embracing the cloud. The company launched with being able to tap into your documents on Google Drive to create your own eBooks.Authors have more options with the ability to integrate material from Dropbox, Github, OneDrive, SoundCloud and Vine into the platform.
Using Liberio’s custom file picker, you can import documents, cover images, and media files from these additional sources free of charge. If you created an eBook in the past with the system, you can edit it to add new media content or just create a new one from scratch. No other self-publishing system currently enjoys the flexibility to be able to create enhanced books with tons of media content from around the web.
The eBooks created with Liberio are 100% compliant with the types of formats major eBook stores require, such as Amazon, Google Play Books or the iBooks Store.
I think this is a bold move on the part of Liberio to embrace popular media channels such as Soundcloud and Vine. Frequently these platforms are employed by rising young internet stars and suddenly its quite viable to harvest your own material for publishing their own eBooks.
If you have been regularly attending the largest professional publishing event in North America, Book Expo America, you are likely used to the last day of the event opening up to the general public. It is normally at this time that most of the executives and senior staff flee, leaving the interns and hired help to man the booths, giving away free swag. Starting in 2015, the public will no longer be invited to BEA.
Back in 2013, Book Expo America started a program that opened its door for one day to the general public. In 2014, it renamed and restructured Consumer Day as BookCon, making it a publishing-meets-pop culture event aimed at reaching a broad swath of readers. Authors loved this aspect of the event, because it gave them a chance to meet with their most loyal fans and signed many autographs. But while that consumer-friendly day “exceeded our wildest expectations,” says BEA Event Director Steve Rosato, selling 10,000 tickets before organizers had to draw the line, it mixed with the professional days like oil and water.
Staring in 2015 BEA will be held Wednesday, May 27, through Friday, May 29, while BookCon will be held Saturday and Sunday, May 30 and 31. Many of the top publishers and authors will likely stay the few extra days in New York to meet with the fans and professional companies that exist to market their services to libraries can take the chance to tear down their booths and flee for their lives.
I like the fact that there will be some separation between the best publishing event for professionals and the general public. It remains to be seen if BookCon can launch as a separate event successfully or not. The BookCon site compares their festival with the likes of Celebration X, PAX East and Comic-con. I seriously doubt they will even come remotely close to the cultural impact those other events have.
Thousands of scientific research and reports are issued every year and citation is a very big deal. The more a specific report is validated through other peoples research and more profound impact it can have. These days, articles that are ten years or younger tend to show up in Google searches and are very easy to find. What about the reports written in the early 20th century?
The impact of older articles has grown substantially over 1990-2013. In 2013, 36% of citations were to articles that are at least 10 years old; this fraction has grown 28% since 1990.
Scholarly research organizations have been digitizing their old reports at an accelerated rate the last five years. Now that finding and reading relevant older articles is about as easy as finding and reading recently published articles, significant advances aren’t getting lost on the shelves and are influencing work worldwide for years after.
Never has it been so easy to look up a circuit diagram, learn about gene therapy or read the latest papers about black holes.
Theresa Horner the VP, Digital Content at Barnes & Noble has left the company. Depending on who you talk to she was either fired or left on her own volition. She played a pivitol role in the formation of the Nook division since its launch in 2011. The last major project she spearheaded was the second generation self-publishing system, Nook Press. Doug Carlson, CMO and EVP of Digital Content and he is now running Nook Press.
Barnes and Noble has lost over one billion dollars with the entire Nook division, that includes eBooks, e-readers and tablets. Over last year they have replaced much of the old guard and replaced them with fresh new talent. Some of the most notable departures in the last year was Jim Hilt, head of global eBook sales, and before him digital products director Jamie Iannone and VP of digital products Bill Saperstein.
The hope with the new talent is to bring fresh prospective to the entire Nook experience and this is evident in the recent initiative Sync-Up. This is a new system that allows customers who buy a print book to be able to get a discount on the digital edition. Another byproduct of the new blood is the fact Nook outsourced the hardware for their new tablet line to Samsung, instead of developing everything in-house, like they did in the past.
Update: Apparently Barnes and Noble is cleaning house right now in the Nook division and many people are afraid of losing their jobs.
A former advertising executive for Kindle is suing Amazon for wrongful dismissal. The saga begins in 2012 with the launch of the Amazon Kindle Fire Tablet. Amazon was seeking launch partners in order to build traction with their Special Offers edition. Credit card company Discover signed on, as they normally participated with pilot projects at Amazon. Then things got interesting.
In a signed affidavit to the Washington Attorney office, former executive Kivin Varghese outlined the following “Shortly after the successful launch of the ad platform in September 2012, we ran into an issue with one of our large launch partners, Discover Card. In addition to paying $1.2 million to be part of the launch, we ran a promotion where they paid an extra $500,000 that was intended to encourage Kindle owners with a Discover card, to switch their default 1-click card to Discover (ahead of the holiday shopping season).
The promotion was structured in a way where anyone with a Kindle, who used their Discover card to buy a digital good (e.g. mp3 or movie), would get a $10 Amazon Gift Card. The reason the good had to be digital is because to buy a digital good you need to use your 1-click default card, and Discover’s primary objective for this promotion was to get users who had a Discover card, to make it their 1-click default so Discover could be the card of choice for holiday shopping over the course of the fourth quarter. That was the only way Discover could justify spending $10 when someone ordered a $1 .mp3 music ﬁle.
The ﬁnance team and the ad execution team (who reported to my manager via a Product Manager) put together a forecast for Discover that showed we expected the $500K to last for the full 60 days of the promotion, and it had a wide ranging buffer, so we would monitor it weekly. I was not allowed to see the data that went into the forecast – only the ﬁnance team putting together the forecast was allowed to see that data – I and others were just provided a range.
About 10 days into the promotion, the Ad Execution team found that over $300,000 of the $500,000 allocated for the promotion had been spent. I had our development team look into the data to ﬁnd out how this could happen – Was it fraud? Was it a bug?
What we found was that there were tens of thousands of Kindle e-ink owners, the vast majority who hadn’t even seen the promotion details (as customers had to click on the ad to see the details), were qualifying for the $10 Gift card because every day, there are thousands of customers who own a Kindle and already have Discover set as their 1-click default card, that buy a digital good on Amazon in the ordinary course of their activity. As soon as we found this out, I sent out a 7-step solution that I recommended we implement to ﬁx the issue, which involved being transparent with Discover about the issue and refunding a signiﬁcant portion of the promotional funds that went to subsidized behavior. Munira disagreed with my approach, directing me to spin this as ‘good news, that the promotion is tracking ahead of plan’ and urged me to try to get more budget from Discover. Meanwhile the promotion continued to run and within a few more days we had gone over the $500,000 budget.
Our ﬁnance and ad execution team had missed the key fact when doing the forecast – the forecast should have shown that there was a 100% certainty that the promotion as structured, would go through the $500,000 budget within a couple of weeks given everyday activity. This was clear, the data was available during the forecast, and it was missed.
So in other words, Discover was essentially paying $10 to tens of thousands of users who had no idea the promotion was going on, and were just subsidizing existing behavior – Discover was paying $10 mostly to consumers that already had Discover set as their 1-click default and were unaware of any Kindle promotion. That was not Discover’s intention, nor was it Amazon’s when we ran the promotion. But it was our mistake to rectify.”
A number of internal emails were sent between project managers of the advertising platform, trying to get Discover to pay more money, without divulging that e-Ink owners were the ones taking advantage of the promotion. According to the emails, Amazon executives directly downplayed the amount spent directly to Discover. Also, according to the legal filing Amazon lied to Discover about specific metrics and page impressions on the custom landing page for the promotion. When Discover pulled out of the promotion, this is when it all hit the fan.
The Ad executive was brought in for his monthly PIP meeting, where they went over milestone goals. He was scolded for not asking Discover for more money, even though he knew all of the funds were spent and Amazon still had not fixed the bug for e-ink Kindles. He was asked to transfer to another department, and upon refusing went to HR and was promptly fired.
The legal brief ended with “To me, it seems like a culture of treating its employees like robots and numbers. And perhaps that is what spawns and encourages the kind of dark behavior I saw at Amazon. Employees aren’t just Bezeos-Bots and numbers. Customers aren’t just a source of free-cash flow at any price.”
You can read the entire legal briefing HERE. It is very long and a compelling read for Amazon intrigue.
Sony is developing a new form of digital rights management to combat Adobes stranglehold on the eBook market. The new encryption system will have an SDK that can be integrated into any existing e-reader or mobile app. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this new security system is a viable platform in which eBooks can be resold.
Adobe Digital Editions is the current industry standard when it comes to eBooks having a layer of security to curb piracy. If you purchase a digital title from one store and want to load it onto your favorite e-reader or tablet you have to download and install the ADE Software, make an account and enter your credit card details. This software is also required for people who borrow eBooks from the library and aren’t using an official app from 3M, Baker & Taylor or Overdrive.
The new Sony encryption system has been a product of three years of development at Sony DADC. This is a Sony subsidiary that primarily focuses on the development of storage media (CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays), but in addition offers Digital Rights Management Services.
Sony plans on making their new eBook encryption system very appealing towards publishers and e-reader manufactures. The developed a brand new SDK that will play nice with any 3rd party reading app on Android, iOS or Windows. It also can integrated directly into any e-reader on the market. The key selling points of the Sony DRM are; to make eBook rentals viable, to lend an eBook to a friend easier, to define a clear path of ownership, better pay per chapter (metered) support and the ability to resell a book.
The big problem in the eBook industry right now is the lack of clear ownership. When you click the BUY button on Amazon, Apple, Kobo, or Google you are simply licensing the book and it is never truly yours. Sony wants to change this and define a clear path of ownership, this will allow people to sell a used eBook and it will actually physically disappear from the original owners account.
Sony plans on shopping their new DRM system in the spring of 2015 and will likely be conducting private meetings at notable events like the London Book Fair, Book Expo America and IDPF gatherings. I have heard from a reputable source that Sony already has six publishers locked up and will be leveraging those relationship in order to establish new ones.
Blurb is one of the largest self-publishing services in the world and was originally launched in 2006. The company has assisted eBook authors in launching over three million titles globally and they have launched a new program that will allow them to better compete with Amazon.
Dream Team is a new initiative that will connect aspiring or existing eBook authors with talent to help them take their title to the next level. The online marketplace is a creative hotbed of industry professionals with expertise in copy editing, developmental editing, book design, art direction, illustration, photography, cover design, ghostwriting, ebook conversion, and more.
Here is how it works. Blurb has tapped publishing industry veterans Richard Nash and Molly Barton to handpick and vet the Dream Team collaborators, populating the group with a range of experience that offers a commensurate range of price points. In order to hire anyone in the marketplace you have to be an existing Blurb member and agree to self-publish your title through them. You basically just browse profiles, checking out their rates and connect up with them to ask questions or to hire them. When it comes to payment, this is done outside of Blurb and its up to the talent to determine how they want to be paid, Blurb abstains from the entire payment process.
Blurb makes no money from this. They are simply connectors. The benefit for them is that statistically, when authors have help they more likely to complete their books. Therefore title completion and unit rates will increase.
A marketplace connecting writers with freelance talent was originally pioneered by Amazon with their seminal Creation Exchange platform. Sadly, this only is relevant for audiobooks, connecting writers with producers, mixers and narrators. Blurb might have stumbled upon a unified service to assist authors in all aspects of eBook creation, under a single platform.
Amazon has just taken the beta sticker off their new author and reading community, Kindle Scout. The essence of this program is to give authors a chance to pitch their upcoming books to the public and readers cast their vote on what ones get published.
Amazon is throwing their marketing and financial efforts behind authors to publish their next book exclusively through them. They are giving an advance of $1,500 and a 50% eBook royalty rate to authors who successfully woo the crowd to get behind their next title. The book will then get hyped with Amazon, and likely the books in the early stages of the Scout lifetime will get a ton of media attention.
“We’re always looking for new ways to add meaningful connections between readers and authors,” said Dina Hilal, General Manager of Kindle Scout. “We’ve been delighted by the submissions so far and are excited to give readers a say in which books they want to read. We also hope they’ll have a lot of fun getting to know authors and their work.”
I think Scout is a really great idea and will assist in a huge problem in the publishing world, the dirge of indie author titles. Every week, thousands of horrendous books are released that pollute the digital ecosystem and hinder the eBook discovery process. In all honesty, indie authors are destroying literature as we know it. Scout attempts to vet out the wheat from the chafe, and hopefully we will only hear about the best of the best and not indie generic title number 19281210912.
The New York Times is betting the future of newspapers is not paywalls or digital subscriptions, but charging on a per article basis. The Times recently invested in Netherlands based startup Blendle to usher in a new area.
Blendle recently attained three million dollars from the NY Times and and German media giant Axel Springer. The company launched in 2013 and has been billing themselves as the iTunes of news. This has been a hot topic for quite a few years already, and this pay-for-what-you-read model is a huge step forward.
The Blendle service has attracted over 130,000 registered users in just over a year. The essence of the service is to partner up with hundreds of Netherlands based news agencies and pay them a percentage of every article that is read. Each news item price is established by the publisher, so the pricing is not consistent, but everything is really cheap.
The money that Blendle has raised will be used to establish a presence in other countries. They want to include more agencies and sources to be able to have a true European reach.