Archive for On Location
The one thing that was clearly evident at SID Display Week this year was the gravitation towards e-paper price tags, billboards, and advertising. E Ink Holdings is putting a priority on expanding outside of its bread and butter e-reader market and focusing on new applications.
Spectra is a new E Ink technology that is quite different from the full color Triton technology. It gives you the very crisp black and white shades, but also a new color: RED. Many companies, such as Target, KMart, Macy’s, and a slew of others, have their main logo in red. This technology is geared towards digital price tags and ranges from a few inches to six and greater. The intention behind Spectra is to offer commercial operations to implement digital price tags, with the sale logo or numbers to really pop out and grab peoples attention. It can be dynamically updated via WIFI or a dedicated internet connection. For example, E Ink hyped the fact that if it is raining outside, the companies could put an instant discount on umbrellas and prices would be automatically updated.
AURORA technology focuses on sub-zero temperatures, which is ideal for the freezer, milk and yogurt isles in super markets. It will function indefinitely at -25 C and is appealing towards labs, medical, and logistics markets. These new tags can be custom tailored from 2, 2.7, 4.41 and 7.4 inch screens. It can also be updated via WIFI, so you can update the prices on the fly, without having to worry about people updating them manually.
The spirit behind these new e-Paper technologies is to do away with the costly expensive of paper every month for retail stores and supermarkets. Most of the big stores spend close to $50,000 a month on tags, paper and other aspects of making pricing available on produce, microwave dinners and everything else. The new e Ink signage aims to streamline the process, and allows the IT department to update prices on the fly, and even dynamically offer deals. If its a really hot day, they could discount or increase the cost of water, if something is in season, they could reduce the prices, the applications are endless.
“The Internet of Things” is the new mandate from Qualcomm, as the company transitions its Mirasol technology from tablets to wearable tech and smartphones. Many industry analysts wrote off Mirasol e-Paper technology as dead, but this couldn’t be further from the truth, as Qualcomm as updated the screens for a new breed of devices.
SID Display Week 2013 just kicked off in Vancouver and I had a chance to catch up with Jesse Burke, who is the new public face of Mirasol. He explained that Mirasol technology had an existing roadmap and that it has deviated from it in small ways to brave a new frontier of wearable technology. There were three new products showcased at the vent, such as a smartwatch, a secondary screen for a phone, and Mirasol technology as the main display on new smartphone.
One of the big adjustments to Mirasol across the board was fitting everything on a single screen. In the past, Mirasol had two different layers of screen for its line of tablets that came out a few years ago, including the Bambook Sunflower and the Kyobo. This gave the user a more washed out approach to images and colors and the tradeoff was great battery life. Qualcomm managed to merge the two layers, producing rich and vibrant color.
The Mirasol smartwatch was the main attraction at SID and had a 1.2 inch screen and lasts a few weeks before needing a re-charge. The intention behind this product is not just to tell the time, but to be an extension of your digital life. On average, we reach for our smartphones almost 100 times a day, to check Twitter, Facebook, messages, and missed calls. The watch will ping you with Google Now updates, Facebook Home, and other essential apps. Mainly, it will serve as a secondary screen that will assist you in staying on top of all the action, without constantly referencing your bulky phone. Currently, Qualcomm is shopping this technology to various vendors, and we will likely see something happening towards the end of 2013 and mid 2014.
Smartphone screen technology is a huge focus for Qualcomm right now and the opportunity is ripe for Mirasol to sweep in and gain some market share. The average phone has a better life of 12-24 hours, depending on your use. Mirasol will extend this up to six times, which amounts to hefty savings over LED and OLED screens
There were two phone displays shown at SID, one was a fully featured smartphone, using Mirasol, and the other was a second display screen on the back of the phone, that draws parallels with the upcoming Yota. The smartphone had sported a 5.1-inch panel with a stunning resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels and 577 ppi. This phone is in the RND phase and is not commercially available yet. It is likely we will have to wait until 2015 to really see it in action. The second display was on the back of the phone, and mirrors the watch in terms of form and function. It allows you to have a secondary screen with dedicated apps running on it. Useful, but it remains to be seen if multi-screen smartphones are viable with your average consumer.
As this year’s eagerly awaited TOC got underway in New York, a number of industry leaders took to the stage to launch the conference with the morning’s first keynotes. Making an appearance for the first time in several years was Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media, who brought attendees up to speed on how the print market and ebook market are faring, essentially putting to rest any concerns that might still be lingering about the future of books.
O’Reilly shared some very interesting anecdotal information on one particular title, The Fault in Our Stars by author John Green. O’Reilly posted the data for book reviews for Green’s title, showing that the title had nearly ten times as many ratings on popular book discovery site Goodreads as it did on Amazon. This is actually a powerful testimony to the fact that books are still vital to readers and that it isn’t necessarily the book retailers who are driving book discovery.
Intel Corp’s Brian David Johnson spoke immediately after about how to change the future, offering up very intriguing statements about helping people to envision the future that they want to happen, a feat which can be accomplished by how we publish genres like steampunk and science fiction today.
Inkling’s Matt MacInnis followed with a brief demo of the newly launched Inkling Habitat platform, likening it not to just another ebook platform but more as a way to put creative control in as many individuals’ hands as possible.
All of the presenters were in line with an underlying theme of all TOC events, which is to take a proactive look ahead to the future of the book and the power of publishers to enact a future that we want to experience.
Registration is open for The Bookseller’s third annual FutureBook Conference is slated for early next month, and like most conferences it will highlight some of the biggest names in the digital publishing industry. What is different about this event, however, is a startling admission from its blog.
According to Sam Missingham, “Digital is no longer siloed, existing as an interesting area for experimentation and discussion as it was only a few years ago. Commercial realities have meant that the heads of digital in all the major publishing houses are now tasked with delivering significant and sustainable revenue streams to their company’s bottom line. The digital publishing space feels very grown up compared to only a few years ago.”
That is an exciting outlook for what was once relegated to the status of flash-in-the-pan or a form of reading that only tech geeks would choose to employ. The focus on digital now is no longer something that publishers do to keep up with the trends; now, they are going digital to stay in business.
This year’s event will showcase some of the trendsetters in digital publishing, such as Sourcebooks and gold-level sponsor YUDU. Kobo will of course be there, as its CEO is one of the keynote speakers for the event. Interestingly, several literary agents will be speaking as well, namely on how the transition to digital affects authors and their relationships with publishers.
At the event, the FutureBook Digital Innovation Awards will be presented from the over 221 entires submitted, and the short list for those awards is available here. GoodeReader will be on location at the conference and posting news and interviews throughout the event.
Digital Book World 2012 has showcased a variety of forms of digital reading content or add-ons, essentially the ways that e-reading is so much more than just novels. Copia demonstrated its social reading platform and rolled out its college textbook interactivity, BookTracks offered samples of its fully integrated audio enhancements, and a variety of companies like start-ups BiblioCrunch and Robot Media demonstrated tools that authors and readers can use to develop their own ebooks and app books.
So it was no surprise that Evan Ratliff, CEO and founder of Atavist and a speaker on various panels at the event, was on hand to discuss the company’s publishing model for short-form non-fiction works. As a source for limited word count pieces and with plans to expand that platform to accepting authors’ submissions later this year, Atavist is reviving interest in the previously much-lauded essay format, much like Kindle Singles has encouraged the publication of non-anthologized short stories.
Ratliff made an interesting point in his interview with GoodEReader when he said that the popularity of short-form works like those published by Atavist and the transition of a lot of periodicals to digital format over print could lead to much longer article content than the reading public is typically accustomed to. Once the constraints of print such as the page layout and the need to balance article space versus advertising space are removed, we could see a shift to much longer and more in-depth articles than ever before.
Oceanhouse Media has developed a large fan base for its work, most of which is centered around enhanced ebooks and fully interactive reading content for children. With the release of dozens of full-color and audio embedded app books for children, many of which include large numbers of titles from juvenile literature icon Dr. Seuss, it has become a mainstay source of content for both iOS and Android users.
In 2011, Oceanhouse Media became the first digital content provider to bring several of Dr. Seuss’ previously unpublished titles to tablets; the seven children’s stories had only been available serialized in Redbook magazine in the 1950s until Oceanhouse adapted the material for its catalog.
Michel Kripalani, president of Oceanhouse Media, spoke with GoodEReader at Digital Book World to elaborate on some of the more practical educational uses for this kind of medium in juvenile reading. He highlighted several other Oceanhouse offerings, such as Dr. Seuss Band, and the first in a series of science-themed books written in the style of Dr. Seuss after his death.
Kripalani explained that there is a fine balance to be achieved between engaging, entertaining content that still attracts the attention of young readers without detracting from the learning experience by incorporating too many extraneous features.
The current projection is for all forty-four of Dr. Seuss’ titles to be made available through the digital publisher as interactive ebooks; Dr. Seuss’ first book, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, was released this week, following such favorites as Fox in Socks, Oh Say Can You Say, and many more.
GoodEReader is on location at the 2012 Digital Book World conference in New York and this year’s event is a veritable who’s who of industry experts. Much of the discussion at this year’s event has focused on children’s digital content, for everything from entertaining interactive ebooks to educational content in digital textbooks, especially in light of Apple’s recent announcement concerning educational materials.
Graham Farrar, one of the founders of iStoryTime, spoke to GoodEReader about the exciting innovations that the public can expect for children’s content, as well as about zuuka and iStoryTime receiving a coveted Publishing Innovation Award for children’s content for its groundbreaking title, Five Little Pumpkins. That ebook was the first such title developed with Apple to use the ePub standard while still incorporating all of the interactivity features that the children’s ebook publisher is well-known for.
Farrar spoke about what it is that children are looking for in this type of content, as well as what the parent-consumers want. The younger readers respond favorably to the interactivity, such as bonus games, touch-screen coloring book applications, and the imagery from their favorite characters; the adults who ultimately purchase the content for their children are primarily interested in quality content that they feel confident in giving to their children, as well as the value of the content at that price point.
One of the surprises of the panel discussions at today’s Digital Book World conference was the amount of talk about print-on-demand, both of its benefits and its drawbacks. While some of the talk was about how not enough emphasis is being put on POD as a viable program option for authors, and more than one industry professional maintained the opinion that print-on-demand will only provide a negligible amount of sales percentage.
In speaking with Karina Mikhli, director of content development for On Demand Books, about the Espresso Book Machine, it became apparent that print-on-demand is actually a misnomer for the model of publishing provided by instant printing kiosks and printers.
“We use digital files, but we’re not quite print on demand. We consider ourselves more digital to printed retail. We recently launched HarperCollins’ comprehensive backlist program, so this is a virtual inventory which is great for bookstores with limited space. We’re doing installations in libraries and university bookstores, as well,” said Mikhli.
While a lot of attention has been focused on the capabilities of these user-friendly in-store machines to print books from a virtual catalog, one key function of the machines that has been largely overlooked is the enhancements to library catalogs that are possible thanks to devices like the Espresso Book Machine. Libraries can simply purchase replacements for damaged or lost books, eliminating the delay in ordering new copies; patrons can also opt to purchase books instantly if they wish to forgo the wait time for a book that is currently checked out, leading to increased sales and the development of the library as a point of sale for books.
Mikhli also spoke on the trend of indie bookstores and libraries who are offsetting the costs of the machines and the licenses by developing a self-publishing printing house within the store or location. This has already led to the development of a sense of community surrounding the booksellers, as well as an increased strengthening of the writing community.
The sentiment at the conference towards print-on-demand and digital to printed retail was that this is so far an open-ended development in digital publishing that so far has not reached the limit of its potential for authors, publishers, or readers.
There are numerous platforms for ebook distribution that will take an author’s digital work and make it available for purchase once the work of writing and formatting the book has been done. At Digital Book World 2012, two companies displayed their new innovations that actually help the would-be author write and publish the book in a step-by-step style.
BiblioCrunch claims that writing a book can be as easy as composing an email, thanks to its highly colorful and engaging on-screen dashboard. BiblioCrunch relies on publishers to pick up the finished products after authors utilize the tabs that offer editing services, formatting services, and more, in order to keep the user cost for authors at free. Authors can also sell their finished products via their own websites as an app book.
BiblioCrunch also has a social reading application within the platform where users can form book clubs to annotate and discuss either traditionally published favorites or user-created content. Robot Media works under a similar user-friendly format to help writers create children’s enhanced ebooks and again, there is no cost to the user unless the book is published, in which case a standard royalty applies per sale. The books appear as apps and can be published to any distribution platform that allows author-created content.
Both products are still in beta at this time, but both have an inherent flaw that the indie author community has been working diligently to overcome, namely, that “anyone can do it” mentality associated with self- and digital publishing. While the two platforms admit that a lot of the purpose in the programs is simply for enjoyment, not commercial publication, the stigma of self-publishing still holds when authors attempt a cookie-cutter approach to writing and publication.
GoodEReader is on location in New York for this year’s massive publishing conference, Digital Book World. Aside from coverage of the panel discussions and keynotes, as well as the live Twitter coverage of vital presentations, staffers will be conducting interviews with executives from both the traditional and digital publishing industries.
The kick-off to the event this morning included opening remarks from the CEO of F+W Media, David Nussbaum, who transitioned into the first large-group discussion of the day. The discussion panel included CEOs of several publishing companies who expounded on the lessons learned in 2011, as well as the directions the industry will be taking in the near future.
Some of the most striking remarks included the candid comments about changes the industry has undergone in the last year and the changes it will have to undergo in order to survive. The demise of Borders was listed by one panelist as perhaps the most telling event of 2011 in terms of understanding where the industry will have to go in the future. Still other remarks focused on the need to adapt to the technology that is already available.
Sourcebooks’ CEO Dominique Raccah also announced a new initiative from the publisher that will allow ebooks to reach market faster than ever while still maintaining the notability and quality of the work. The agile publishing model, developed with author and futurist David Houle, will release titles in pre-determined blocks of material in order to release the work to readers in a timely manner to correspond to the poignancy of the material; the work will later be developed into a print edition once all of the electronic chunks have been released digitally.
Ellen Archer of Hyperion provided insight into one of the most interesting options for publishing by releasing books simultaneously with the counterparts from other forms of media.
Print on demand has been a running theme throughout today’s conference, with some experts going so far as to say that POD is actually a form of digital publishing, although the end result is a tangible book rather than a file. One panelist enhanced that opinion by saying that POD can quite easily overtake the brick and mortar bookstores, although on executive argued that he does not see POD as a real profit center.
All in all, the tone of today’s event focused in on the excitement of this time in the industry.
With so much controversy taking place in publishing right now—such as battles with Amazon and online retailers, accusations of price fixing, and publishers pulling their titles from lending libraries—it was refreshing to see the various arms of the entire book creation realm coming together for open discussions and predictions for the greatness of books.