Frankfurt Book Fair

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The Frankfurt Book Fair has been getting more progressive during the last few years. Good e-Reader was live on the scene for the first ever Contec, which put a priority on digital publishing. In 2015 the organizers have said they are moving all of the English publishers closer to the heart of the event.

In the past, publishers who marketed books in English were relegated to the fringes. It honestly took close to 40 minutes walking from the main hall and navigating traffic to find the English publishers. Now they are moved closer to Halls 6.0 and 4.0, which should cut down on the time by 20 minutes.

This entire move was basically prompted because English speaking publishers have been complaining that they feel segregated from the global community. Frankfurt wants to solve the problem by moving them closer to where the action is and the majority of people are.

Many publishing conferences have digital zones, where specific vendors can showcase their software or hardware. This defines a geographic area where people interested in having their own reading apps created or looking for a more defined solution have a uniform place to go. Frankfurt continues to resist this trend in a recent interview with Publishing Perspectives “We’ve seen digital becoming normal, and it is offering huge possibilities for all of us in the industry. Because it is now day-to-day business, it’s now integrated in what we do. On the one hand, digital means workflow, and on the other hand, it is the normal life of the publisher – it doesn’t need a dedicated hall in that sense. If you want to see gadgets, you can go to CES. Digital doesn’t mean hardware, it means business models. It’s context.

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The Frankfurt Book Fair has a decades-long history and is known around the world as one of the premier publishing industry events. Originally limited to the industry, the underlying purpose of the Fair is first and foremost a rights’ event, in which agents, publishers, and publishing houses in foreign markets would negotiate for the book rights in translation and worldwide publishing.

For the past few years, however, Frankfurt has opened its doors to the public towards the end of the event itself, which is typically a time when business meetings are concluded and executives have headed back home, leaving their exhibits staffed by company representatives or hired exhibitors, per Fair regulations. Not only do public attendees get to see some of the wide varieties of publishing industry businesses who make the books happen in some way, they can also get a glimpse at some of the titles and technology that are on the horizon.

Of course, the opportunity to network with other authors drives self-published authors to the event, as does the chance to meet with some of their favorite bestselling authors in attendance. A guide put out prior to the event by Publishing Perspectives’ Hannah Johnson gave authors nearly forty pages of valuable advice for attending the event, and a recent Twitter chat put on by BiblioCrunch and featuring Porter Anderson let indie authors discuss the merits of this type of effort.

For others though, the Fair has turned into a general spirit of book partying and cosplay fandom, with an outdoor stage and festival area focused on reading, live music, and more.

For whatever reason people choose to attend the Frankfurt Book Fair, an event that practically overtakes the entire city for a week each fall, rest assured that there is no more book-centric spot on Earth at that time than the city of Frankfurt.

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Even as self-publishing continues to open doors for authors without the permission of a gatekeeper, there are still some realms of publishing that are not as easy for authors as uploading a Word document to Kobo Writing Life or Kindle Direct Publishing. Creators of children’s books, photography and art books, and even some forms of poetry that require a unique level of formatting often find it difficult to locate inexpensive yet professional options for publishing their graphics-intensive work for tablets.

Story2Go, an exhibitor at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, offers a fairly user-friendly interface for content developers who need stand-alone app products across a variety of tablets, but who also want a level of full-color and enhancements like audio and graphics.

“Story2Go is an interactive content builder which is designed for providing a bit more than ebooks or standard form of content,” explained Tomas Bonis, CTO of Story2Go, in an interview with Good e-Reader. “The editor itself is designed for the iPad, and you can create your content there. Insert your image, add your text, background, basic interactivity and audio, and once you put it together, you can see it on the editor on the iPad before you launch. Once you have everything together, you send the data to us and we create the stand alone application.”

The content is created via an iPad app that can be downloaded upon full launch on November 1st. Authors of children’s books, graphic novels, educational content, magazines, and more can develop their content through the app, or rely on Story2Go’s team to create the content for them. The base price for the launch of the app is $99 for one platform, or $149 for all supported platforms.

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The Frankfurt Book Fair, though situated in Germany, is a truly worldwide book event with entire halls dedicated to international publishing and rights, and vendors and exhibitors from literally all over the world. But one of the issues still plaguing digital publishing is that the world is still cutoff from ebooks in much the way the print rights must be secured on a country-by-country basis; this is compounded by a lack of cultural understanding in the ebook arena, and the impact that location has on book consumption in a particular country.

Good e-Reader met with South African-based Snapplify at the Frankfurt Book Fair to talk about some of the issues and how they can be overcome, specifically in terms of the lack of news coming from markets that are leading their own innovations that work for their cultures of readers, rather than trying to simply recreate a US model abroad.

“[Some conferences] are way too America-focused,” explained Snapplify CEO Wesley Lynch. “Not just for the sake of being representative, but if the market was a little more outward focusing, there’s opportunities that they can pick up, not just for access to other markets, but for improvements that other markets have been forced to address through innovations of necessity.”

It’s not just a concern in Africa, either. As Lynch explained, “Only two percent of the members of the IDPF are represented by Africa and South America. “Everyone is carrying on about Brazil, and it seems like there’s almost a battleground in Japan, Brazil, and some of these other key markets, and they’re the guys who are pushing and innovating and contributing to the ePub Standard. But Korea has more IDPF members than anyone else. The spirit is the same in the world of collaboration.”

One aspect of digital publishing that Lynch spoke at length about is the need for more awareness of cultural and geographical implications before advances can be made in some of the underrepresented book markets. For example, e-ink readers are still wildly popular as opposed to tablets in many outlying parts of Africa, due to their longer battery life and the ability to add ebooks via a USB cable in places with little or no internet connection. Other Asian markets, as an example, will not adopt a retail model similar to that of the US or UK when it comes to books, so adaptations have to be considered and put in place.

“I’ve got this utopian view that we’re all going to get together and play nice, and for the greater good. We’ll all end up with better ePub readers.”

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Forget the cutting edge of innovation…Sourcebooks sharpens that edge on a daily basis. With everything from offering up one of its bestselling titles for free to OverDrive for the Big Library Read, to the creation of the Put Me in the Story platform that they opened up to other publishers to use, Sourcebooks constantly reshapes the very image of publishing.

Today, the company sat down with Good e-Reader at the Frankfurt Book Fair to talk about the deal it had established with social shopping site Living Social, a process that was three years in the making, to make one of its titles available at a steep discount. This marks a new avenue in publishers offering content directly to consumers without going through a retailer.

“We had an incredible day yesterday,” explained Lyron Bennett, Business Manager for Put Me in the Story at Sourcebooks, “we had our first promotion with Living Social, with almost 2900 books in a day. But we’re just getting started with it. It’s one book in one promotion, for twelve days. This is a three year endeavor that is finally salable and moving. Dominique [Raccah] endorsed the idea, which is what makes us Sourcebooks. That really is a hallmark of this company.”

The Put Me in the Story platform, launched around this time last year, allows users to incorporate the name and photo of a child in the digital picture book, as well as create a print edition as a keepsake. The deal on social site Living Social actually offers the book to members for almost a 50% discount.

“What started as an app has become an e-commerce platform and we’re looking to build an ecosystem. I want to create something that is publisher and author-friendly, that is powerful, and that is non-replicable and engages everyone in supported self-expression. It’s something authors can be proud their work is on. In all of the other facets of where words live, it’s a big idea.”

The Put Me in the Story titles I Love You So, Happy Birthday, and If I Could Keep You Little are available now through the Living Social platform, and can be found HERE.

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Frankfurt Book Fair has grown into an event that encompasses so much about the publishing industry, with special events focused on self-publishing and six different exhibit halls dedicated to various aspects of digital publishing. But what once was known to be simply a rights fair still serves as a hub of copyright issue, as evidenced by the Copyright Clearance Center’s panel, “Open Access: The Force Remaking Publishing.” Good e-Reader covered the event live, then sat down with CCC’s Christopher Kenneally, Director of Business Development, to talk about why open access—specifically in research and scholarly publishing—is such a vital force in publishing.

“The idea that a government would have a relationship with publishing is one that’s pretty well accepted around the world, except in the United States,” Kenneally explained of the panel. “Even in the UK, it has a relationship. People marvel at the extensiveness of this whole conference, but you can’t tell me that German taxpayer euros aren’t heavily invested in this. They have decided that it’s a better policy to support [publishers] and what they do.”

Interestingly, the government does have a hand in the publishing industry in the US in terms of copyright legislation. While the rights of content creators are protected under established law, that seems to be the extent of the government’s involvement with publishers. According to the panelists, however, the UK has adopted an open access policy towards the publishing of research that is government funded, meaning that research is available worldwide, but as one of the first country’s to take such a broad policy towards scholarly publishing, they are not benefiting in kind from access to research conducted outside the country.

“There’s almost no significant research team today that doesn’t have some sort of global character to it. It might be based in the UK, but the researchers are in the Netherlands, in the US, in Japan, in China, wherever they are. It has an impact on US publishers. Half of the IEEE membership is outside the US, so when someone sneezes in the UK about open access, they catch the cold back at IEEE. There’s this public policy goal, which is shared by the US and the EU, to make information more accessible.”

The Office of Scientific and Technology earlier this year outlined a policy around government research, effectively stating that any organization of a certain size who receives government funding to conduct research will have to make that research information publicly accessible. In the EU, they’re also working on a variety of open access strategies.

“The problem is, the definition that might be agreed upon in the UK by what they mean by open access might not be the same in the US. Some open access materials are free and unconditional, some of them have certain kinds of conditions, almost all of them have attached to them the Creative Commons buy license or buy-nc, which is non-commercial. But within Creative Commons there’s no real commercial reuse policy. In the past, researchers gave their copyright to publishers and publishers took responsibility for protecting the work.

“What happens in the UK matters to US publishers, and to a US audience. If it’s about a particular gene or particular disease, that matters to the whole world. We will benefit from making it available.”

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KPIPA, the Publication Industry Promotion Agency of Korea, was only one of the many foreign publishing entities represented at the Frankfurt Book Fair, so many, in fact, that signs on location are referring to this event as the “UN of Publishing.” But what makes KPIPA so interesting is that it was actually formed by the South Korean government with representatives from four distinctly different business from the Korean book and technology sectors: Pubtree from Namo, Inc., Mbook Harmony, Tabon Books–all of whom are digital publishing platforms–and MarkAny, a digital security and copyright protection solution.

Ray SJ Ahn of Pubtree/Namo spoke to Good e-Reader about the state of digital publishing and ebook consumption in the Korean market, as well as what some of the factors are that might be driving the consumers’ ebook habits.

“We’re pushing [ereading] really hard,” explained Ahn, “but there are still a lot of consumers who buy paperbacks. But as mobile devices are getting more popular, everything is becoming more digitized.”

Ahn specifically referenced an initiative by the South Korean government to go to a strictly digital educational environment across all public school grades, a movement that is already taking shape and that will presumably be fully digital by 2015. This includes the use of smart boards and smart TVs in all classrooms, which has already occurred, and a greater emergence of tablets for students as young as elementary school.

“The classroom itself is transforming, too. Before, everyone carried the giant backpacks full of books, but now it’s just an iPad.”

But with so many people across different demographics using mobile devices, why isn’t Korea leading the way in ebook consumption? One factor may be price. While not held to some of the laws found in Europe that required ebooks and print books to be the same price, the Korean ebook publishing arena still priced ebooks at only about 70% of the cost of a print edition, which wasn’t an enormous savings, or at least not motivation enough to get people to abandon print. But as bookstores continue to disappear–even faster than in other countries, according to Ahn–ebooks are taking hold simply due to their availability.

Ahn also pointed to the younger generation of readers as being more fully immersed in their ebook consumption. As more and more working parents leave scchool-aged children for longer periods of time, they’re turning to ebooks as a way for their children to be entertained, rather than letting them loose on the internet. This, in turn, has resulted in higher than usual numbers of titles being published for children.

Ahn went on to describe some of the processes which Korean ebook publishing platforms employ, notably a very user friendly drop-and-drag system which he compared to the ease of using Power Point, a factor which may lead to greater numbers of self-published authors, even as greater numbers of readers go digital.

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Digital publishing solutions provider Aquafadas unveiled a new, simplified workflow solution this morning at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Called AQ Cloud Authoring, the program streamlines the publishing process for a variety of content developers. From magazines and newspapers who may have large volumes of content to distribute, to small press publishers who don’t have an in-house designer team to develop Adobe InDesign files, Cloud Authoring alleviates much of the labor-intensive process by working directly from a PDF, even those converted in a program like Microsoft Word.

Allison Reber, Communication Manager for Aquafadas, sat down with Good e-Reader to explain how the process is more directly useful and what specific types of content creators could most benefit from the platform.

“Cloud Authoring is another tool to create your content,” Reber explained. “You can create dedicated versions for iPad, your computer, etc. With Cloud Authoring, you can do it automatically online. You drag your PDF file and you can choose the export format you want. You can create ePub fixed layout for Kobo or Amazon, a format for an app, or for a web reader. It’s very easy because you just take your PDF or JPEG [of a print edition] and convert it.”

One incredible new feature that Cloud Authoring provides is Guided Reading, which allows readers to move across the text of a newspaper or magazine article or the column print of a scanned print edition without having to move the text around on their screens. By tapping the next arrow, the text automatically shifts to the next block of text, then moves on to the next page once that text is completed. This feature is a simple tool in Cloud Authoring, and can be used by any content developer

A year in the making and based on seven years of experience in digital publishing needs, Aquafadas’ goal with Cloud Authoring was to simplify the process as much as possible without sacrificing any of the end products’ features. Reber made note of a French newspaper who published regional editions, thereby producing 53 different editions of its newspaper daily. Now that content can be optimized for digital reading, as all that is needed is the same PDF file the publisher would work from to create the print edition. Of course, the paper’s 2 million readers can benefit from the Guided Reading feature that enhances columnar reading.

Aquafadas announced a partnership with Kobo earlier this year to produce the digital versions for the Kobo digital magazine store, and another launch is expected from the partnership in the near future in the arena of self-published children’s books and graphic novels.

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The Tolino Group has been pushing their dedicated Shine e-Reader in the retail sector since last year. The one disadvantage they had with a singular device is not appealing to people who wanted multi-purpose tablets. Today, they sought to remedy this situation by unveiling the Tolino Tab 7 and Tolino Tab 8.9. The hope, is to compete against Amazon and Kobo’s portfolio of new devices that is hitting Germany later this month. At the event, one representative told us “”We want to close the gap to Amazon with these two tablets”

The Tolino Tab 7 features a resolution of 1440 × 900 pixels at (243 dpi), while the 8.9 model has a very respectable resolution of 1920 × 1200 at (254 dpi). Both tablets run the same internal hardware with a 1.6 GHz quad-core CPU Rockchip processor, Wi-Fi, Bluetoot, microHDMI and 16 GB of internal memory which can be expanded via microSD. Only when there are differences in working memory: The tab 8.9 has 2 GB of RAM, while the the tab 7 has only 1 GB. Customers should garner around 12 hours of battery life while doing their daily tasks.

In order to appeal to the widest range of customers both tablets will be running Google Android 4.2.2. They are also Google certified, which means you will be able to access Google Play and all of the official apps, such as Gmail, Maps, Google+.

Both tablets will hit the market in mid-November, the prices depend on the bookseller. Thalia has the two devices are already listed and you should be able to get the seven inch edition for 180 euros and 250 euros for the 8.9.


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Ingram Content Group today announced at the Frankfurt Book Fair they have entered into a partnership with EE Media, one of the largest publishing houses in Russia. Such an arrangement will lead to better distribution of content in Russia as well as the former Soviet countries. Russia is among the countries where ebooks have been gaining traction at an expansive rate, prompting Ingram to zero in on that country. Publishers in Russia will benefit from the deal as they will have access to “high-quality, print-on-demand book manufacturing and established relationships with the leaders in online, chain and independent booksellers and distributors in Russia and the former Soviet Union,” as stated in the press release.

“Working with Ingram, more than 3,000 retail points of sale in the region will have quick and easy access to a greater selection of English language books,” stated Yevgeniy Khata, CEO, EE Media. “Where it typically took one to two months for English language books to reach consumers, now it will take 24 – 48 hours.”

Mr. Khata further added, “Ingram is a true leader in the content distribution space, and we are pleased to be a part of their Global Connect program for the Russian and former Soviet Union markets.”

Ingram had introduced the Global Connect program as a way to maximize potential of its printing facilities present in countries such as US, UK, Australia, and France. It has forged new partnerships with publishers and distribution channels in countries with high adoption rate of books. Further, all Global Connect partners follow the same levels of quality and specifications as laid down by Ingram’s Lightning Source.

“Our Global Connect network provides publishers with a comprehensive option to expand the reach of content to new global markets,” said David Taylor, Senior Vice President, Content Acquisition International, Ingram Content Group Inc. “In today’s immediate all-access world, publishers need solutions that ensure books are immediately available to people who want to buy them, and through Ingram’s proven Global Connect offer, they have a single, integrated solution to do that globally.”

The above deal has also brought cheers to book sellers in Russia, something that is evident in what Denis Kotov, CEO of Bookvoed had to say. “Currently, English language books are poorly represented in Russia, but even despite this, there is healthy demand. Through the work between EE Media and Ingram, we look forward to having access to a greater number of quality English books for the consumers we serve.” Bookvoed is counted among the largest traditional book chains in Russia.

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Good e-Reader sat down at the Frankfurt Book Fair today with Theresa Horner, Vice President of Digital Content at Barnes and Noble, to talk about the current state of the Nook division, the associated Nook Press self-publishing platform, and the upcoming affiliate drive to help authors receive an additional benefit for driving their own fans towards ebook purchases that offer a return on the transaction. One of the several interesting topics discussed was Horner’s pronouncement on the current status of the Nook division, something which the online rumor mill has alluded to more than once as a stone around Barnes and Nobles’ neck, along with rumors that the retailer is trying to unload its e-reader and tablet division.

“We [Nook division] are so far from going away that it’s almost laughable,” explained Horner. “Clearly, we’re here. Barnes and Noble is 100% committed to Nook, we have stated publicly that we are going to come out with some new device products, and there’s a whole road map for that. Our teams in Palo Alto and New York are fully committed to developing new products and producing the innovative products that we’ve had to date. We’re still the strong number in the ebook market in terms of market share in the US, and we’re starting to take what we’ve learned and move it overseas. We’re learning how to be a non-US company, how to be international, and that’s why we’re here.”

One of the features that Barnes and Noble was demonstrating at Frankfurt was the beta product that went live last night was a way to let non-US based authors take full advantage of Nook Press. Obstacles like paying authors in their currencies, taxes, and VAT have put up roadblocks the prevented authors who did not reside in the US from taking part in the platform to release their books for Nook. The international move will also allow authors to price their books as they choose for each market. This effort is a buildup to affording US-based authors to publish their titles in those foreign markets as well.

Horner also addressed the affiliate program, specifically in terms of how affiliate status can help authors in maximizing revenue by driving their readers towards the Nook site to purchase their ebooks, mostly by making the process simpler and more streamlined.

“This way we’re leveraging this huge network of authors who are out there and asking them to let the readers choose which retailer they want to go with. If you drive all your sales to one particular retailer, it’s a foregone conclusion that your entire market share will come from that retailer.”

One summary statement from Horner helps explain why Nook has remained where it has, in spite of rumors and predictions about its stores and its devices.

“This ebook business is still so new, for everybody involved. I think the entire market is starting to understand that you’re not going to have triple digit growth year after year, and how to turn this into a mature business.”

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One of the most exciting demonstrations at today’s first day event of the Frankfurt Book Fair had to have been Narr8, the app and web-based platform that lets readers enjoy graphic and animated content from an in-house team of designers, as well as create and upload their own content using Narr8′s catalog of offerings.

“Narr8 lets you create your own story, and then it gets published onto our app,” explained Narr8′s PR manager Alexis Valerio of the year-old platform. “Editor.narr8.me is the way you create and edit your work through your browser. I can select a background image, add a cover, add text, select background audio, and have a preview of what it is.”

The user-generated content is currently free to read and other titles may be purchased with platform-specific currency that readers earn within the app. A program is in the works to help authors in a revenue sharing system for creating content that receives a pre-determined number of downloads.

While still in private beta, over 1000 titles have been created and shared in serial format, including works of both fiction and non-fiction, educational content, and age-appropriate material for a wide variety of demographics. The pro edition will be launching soon, and Narr8 is actually collaborating with San Francisco-based Academy of Art to see what graphic art students can create with the pro version in exchange for the chance to earn a $2500 scholarship. The free app is available across most tablets and smartphones, while the content creator is solely web-based.

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With a greater-than-ever focus on digital publishing at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, several companies took advantage of the attendance and industry focus to launch or offer sneak previews of their ereaders and tablets.

One of the rumors before the event was that Tolino would get a facelift, but the European e-reader, created in a unique partnership between five different companies, not only got an update, it got two new tablet cousins. The Shine e-reader offers an ePub, PDF, and TXT file compatibility for ebooks on 4GB of internal memory, supported by an additional MicroSD card, but the two new tablets, which come in 7″ and 8.9″ screen sizes, provide a more in-depth experience with HD video and audio, additional storage, and access to over 800,000 apps through the Google Play store, all while running Android 4.2.2. The Tolino devices are due out in November.

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Bookeen also shared a preview of its upcoming device, also due out in time for the holidays. The device is still pending, meaning Good e-Reader was allowed to use the device and only photograph it with its cover closed. While still definitely an e-reader, this one maintains a streamlined, no-frills reading experience for people who just want portable access to books without having to carry a lot of bulk, as this one (with the cover in place) looks and feels like a good-sized greeting card.

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One of the more exciting devices introduced to Good e-Reader today was the Imcosys e-reader. Again, it’s a fairly lightweight device, but incorporates some exciting features like user-optional front lit display, touch screen and thumb buttons for relaxed reading, and the pre-installed Dropbox app. That app is actually quite important to Imcosys’ device, as it allows to be the only device currently on the market that lets readers share audiobooks, not just ebooks. The device also includes a browser and the ability to read ebooks of any file format, whether bought in the Imcosys store or the user’s favorite retailer.

While Frankfurt has always traditionally been a rights’ fair where publishers and agents negotiated content deals, more and more companies are taking advantage of the hundreds of thousands in attendance to feature some of their new and pending projects.