Archive for Digital Publishing News
Academic publishers are finding that there’s strength in numbers when it comes to launching digital content for classroom settings. At a SXSWEdu event today, McGraw-Hill Education and StudySync announced a partnership aimed at bringing language arts materials that are aligned with the Common Core Standards to digital environments for teaching.
“With information available at the swipe of a finger, education in the 21st century must engage students to inspire academic excellence and foster creativity. To be successful, students must aspire to higher levels of reading and writing, learn how to build knowledge to support their opinions and think critically as they parse the plethora of material so simply at their disposal,” said Robert Romano, CEO of StudySync. “Our partnership with McGraw-Hill Education serves to address those essential changes in education by bringing together substance and form to produce the best teaching resources possible to help students achieve success in college and career.”
Under the terms of this new collaboration, McGraw-Hill will not only distribute the StudySync platform to its secondary school members, but will also work with the company to generate even more engaging digital learning content. But one of the features that does cause StudySync to stand out in an already crowded marketplace of companies who believe they can do it better is their Blast content, which sends out a weekly writing assignment based around current world events; students around the world can then connect to discuss the writing assignments.
According to Peter Cohen, president of McGraw-Hill School Education Group, “StudySync is a standout product that successfully integrates the latest innovations in technology with effective curriculum and pedagogy for an era of more rigorous educational standards. Combining it with our products and services will help educators not only boost engagement but drive results.”
A number of companies have tried to combat the growing problem of ebook discovery by building daily email lists and book websites, landing pages that are supposed to draw readers in order to discover the latest in publishing. Companies like Libboo have recently launched a daily feature based on traffic generated called The Midlist, designed specifically to highlight worthy books that are getting some traction, while not necessarily being top of the list bestsellers.
Today, Simon&Schuster announced its own version of a discovery mailer called Off The Shelf, but one thing that makes S&S’s site standout is its publisher-agnostic focus. By highlighting a variety of books instead of just their own catalog of titles, the publisher is taking a rather selfless move in the direction of connecting authors and readers.
“While it is very easy to learn about the latest, hot new must-have books, we know from experience that many readers are more interested in what’s relevant to them regardless of its moment in the publishing cycle,” said Carolyn Reidy, President and CEO of Simon & Schuster, in a press release. “With Off the Shelf, we aim to bring attention to books that were bestsellers you might have read or wanted to, books that you may have missed in the often overwhelming number of titles that get published every year, or simply books that have touched us as readers, left an indelible mark on us, and become friends that we revisit often. These are books that are often spine out in stores, buried on a home bookshelf, or deep within library stacks. We hope that shining a new light on them will help others discover a passion for them as well.”
While more than just a mass email featuring a book or two, Off The Shelf will also offer book reviews, guest posts, author interviews, reading lists, videos, and more. For more information or to sign up for the site’s email list, go to OffTheShelf.com.
Sourcebooks’ launch of its fully personalized and customizable enhanced ebook platform Put Me in the Story has become almost as well-known and well-loved as the characters and story lines that it incorporates. Using existing characters and allowing other publishers to use the personalization features for their own titles has opened up a whole world of possibilities in the gift book market, emerging reader applications, and low-interest/low-ability level educational segments.
Now, Sourcebooks has announced a whole new line of much-loved classic characters with the introduction of Charles Schultz’s Peanuts brand into the platform. Using the same tablet technology that has made Put Me in the Story so popular with parents and teachers, readers can now experience Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the entire Peanuts gang in personalized stories.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Peanuts,” says Dominique Raccah, CEO and publisher of Sourcebooks, in a press release. “By adding these books to the Put Me In The Story personalized platform, we’re giving fans young and old new ways to experience the beloved characters of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the gang—a Peanuts story starring YOU!”
“As we continue to build on our strategy of introducing new generations to the Peanuts property, partnering to create stories in new digital formats is key,” said Craig Herman, Executive Director of Publishing for Peanuts Worldwide. “We have no doubt that Sourcebooks is the right partner to create quality products featuring the Schulz characters.”
Two books will be available this year, Good Grief, It’s Your Birthday and Cheer Up, Charlie Brown, both expected to be released in early fall. Future titles are already anticipated, as well as the availability of the print books in physical bookstores.
One of the biggest benefits to the platform is the ability to order the personalized editions of the stories in print, making it a lasting keepsake or special gift for a special reader.
As more people around the world turn to free sources of information and education online, companies like Learnist have sprung to enable access to top content from both user-generated sources and experts in their fields. With the growing numbers of users returning to web-based reading and mobile device consumption, portability is also a must in order to make social learning feasible.
Today, Learnist announced its new app for iPhone and iPod, two devices that have a high level of penetration among consumers and are therefore readily available in classroom settings, even at the public school grade levels. This app has been unveiled in conjunction with Learnist’s news that it is now offering premium Learnboards to its 10 million registered users worldwide, with most content from highly recognized names being made available for as little as 99cents with an in-app purchase.
Good e-Reader spoke to Learnist’s founder and chief product officer Farb Nivi about the launch of both the app and the exciting new content, as well as discussed the importance of enabling this level of fingertip access to educational material that is both relevant and affordable.
“Learnist is basically about people sharing what they know directly with each other. Everything you want to know is available now online, and we couldn’t make that statement even five years ago. We went from nothing on the internet to basically everything we know on the internet, so we came up with the idea for Learnist by letting them share what they know.”
The company’s Learnerboards are fully enhancement-capable stand-alone offerings that can be user created and collaborated, then made available for other learners to use. This has become an especially important tool for classroom teachers and has seen a dedicated following of educators among registered users.
“Learnist is like a crowdsourced collection of the world’s knowledge. And with this update–a completely new app, really–one of the things that we’re very excited about is that we’ll be offering premium content for sale for 99cents from really notable experts.”
These so-called “celebrity” experts who’ve already signed on to contribute content include names like director Gus Van Sant, actress and activist Olivia Wilde, designer Danny Forster, MythBusters TV host Kari Byron, former NFL star Dhani Jones, author Brad Meltzer, and more. Nivi went on to make the point that the speed with which an expert signs on to create a new Learnerboard and then Learnist makes that content available is almost unheard of, sometimes taking place within only a matter of four to six weeks. This helps ensure that the topics available to Learnist users are both timely, and up-to-date in terms of accuracy.
One of the most exciting features of Learnerboards is the dynamic of the content itself. Where consumers initially needed to purchase an entire book or textbook, this content allows users to focus only on the content they need at a far more affordable price point for the content. This premium content, when coupled with the high volume of free content that is also available, enables Learnist to meet the public’s information needs via reliable and practical application sources.
The app is available today for iOS.
Amazon launched ACX in 2011 to connect up publishers, authors and producers for unsold audiobook rights. Indie authors have begun to use the program more than the publishing companies and Amazon has tweaked their program a number of times to be more appealing. Today, the company announced they were adjusting the royalties it pays on audiobooks.
When the ACX program first launched, companies like HarperCollins and Random House primarily used it to compliment their eBook strategies with audiobooks. Lots of famous actors loaned out their voice to read novels and producers were earning extra income. A year later self-published authors started to take over the platform and Audible adjusted their strategy to have a wider appeal.
Until now, the royalties paid on audiobooks have been really solid. If you wanted to market it exclusively through Audible you would get paid around 50–90%, if you wanted to sell it outside of Audible you would earn 25–70%. Amazon has now lowered the exclusive rate to 40% and the non-exclusive version to 25%.
Further, a bounty of $50 will be awarded to the royalty earner every time your book is the first purchase of a new AudibleListener. Under the previous program, a $25 bounty was awarded every time your book was one of the first three purchases by a new AudibleListener. In Royalty Share deals, the Rights Holder and Producer will now split the $50 bounty equally.
If you have produced an audiobook in the past, the royalty structure will not change. Authors and Producers will still earn the old amount for audiobooks published before March 11, 2014. The commission adjustment is only applicable for new titles being published, although the bounty rate will change across the board.
Amazon, Audible and ACX have continued to make their platform less appealing to authors as time as gone on. It was not too long ago that the company paid authors an additional $1.00 everytime their book was purchased or downloaded. They did this to draw attention to their platform as a viable way to distribute audiobooks to the masses. This new adjustment to royalties is the latest decrease to revenue earning potential. But really, where else are you going to sell it?
As device consumption among consumers continues to grow and more readers rely on their tablets and smartphones for digital reading, the number of available titles also continues to grow. What many consumers may not be aware of, however, is the power behind their digital magazines, newspapers, enhanced ebooks, and more: Adobe.
Known for its Digital Publishing Suite that is used by a variety of publishers to create digital content for device consumption, Adobe announced today that it’s merging the capabilities of DPS with another of its popular publishing tools, the Adobe Experience Manager. This combination will allow content developers to enjoy an even more streamlined workflow with an ease of use factor that reduce the need for graphic artists to generate all of the layout.
Adobe’s Lynly Schambers Lennox and Colin Fleming spoke with Good e-Reader about the implications of how this level of product integration can be a game changer for companies who are investigating or even currently utilizing Adobe’s tools for content publication.
“With these two solutions combined, we’re offering a really powerful multi-channel publishing solution for rapidly publishing content to mobile devices,” explained Schambers Lennox. “Adobe Experience Manager allows users to organize, create, and manage the delivery creative assets from a single location and push them out to website, mobile websites, email campaigns, social sites, and of course, mobile applications using Digital Publishing Suite.”
This integration will not only save time and money for the content developers as they work to reach their consumer audiences, but more importantly, companies using the combined workflow of DPS and Experience Manager can maintain a strong sense of unity within their brands and their materials. By simply moving content through both tools, that brand recognition can easily be kept consistent.
The internet isn’t just for cat videos and goofy memes, it would seem. The power of social media has already been linked to a number of worthwhile causes and intense change, such as Twitter’s role in the Arab Spring. Now, a whole new form of journalism and digital news publishing is being beta tested by Reddit, the platform that brings users slightly less intense content on a daily basis.
While Reddit is experimenting with the “open source journalism” that lets users create and update blog-style feeds in real time, not all of the experimental modes are so life changing as sharing the news of disasters worldwide. But one arm of this project does have the power to foster upheaval of growth by keeping users informed of the invents unfolding in the Ukraine, as they happen.
Unlike typical posts where users simply comment on a thread, Reddit’s new Liveupdate threads–while not exactly pretty, in much the same way that Reddit is a no-frills info swapping site–allow the established users to update the information in a bloglike way while followers see the updates in real-time and can access alerts that new information has been added. It’s like watching the news coverage of an event without waiting for the network to decide to air it, and without commercial interruption.
As for these open-source journalists themselves, one of the most exciting possibilities for a low-end platform like Reddit is the removal of network sponsors who will dictate their own slant on the coverage. A simple look at the headlines involving last night’s announcement that Governor Jan Brewer (AZ) vetoed a bill that allowed businesses within the state to refuse to serve homosexuals was simultaneously referred to as the “Anti Discrimination Veto” and the “Anti Religious Freedom Veto,” depending on which news source ran the headline. Reddit users are nothing if not completely candid, as other threads have shown, and will ideally be able to cover events as they see them, not as corporate sponsors require it.
While the new feature is in beta at the moment, Reddit does foresee this tool being open and accessible to all users. And while yes, there may be some live updates to cat memes, there will potentially be some world changing news.