Archive for ebooks

Microsoft Discontinuing eReader

Microsoft is discontinuing Microsoft Reader effective August 30, 2012, which includes download access of the Microsoft Reader application from the Microsoft Reader website. However, customers may continue to use and access the Microsoft Reader application and any .lit materials on their PCs or devices after the discontinuation on August 30, 2012. New content for purchase from retailers in the .lit format will be discontinued on November 8, 2011. http://www.microsoft.com/reader/

Google Integrates eBook Sharing in Their Social Networking Site

Google announced that they made a new feature for users to share the books they are reading on the new Google+ social network. Any book on Google books, whether it is a free or paid book, can be shared with your Circles. This feature allows one to share books, passages and details, such as cover art and the description, with friends. To share a book, visit the “About the Book” page on the Google Book listing and click “Share.” While sharing books, one can also “+1” them, and the titles will appear in on the Google+ profile under the +1 tab. http://books.google.com/

Rumor: Amazon to Release Tablet

Amazon plans to release a tablet computer by October, people familiar with the matter said according to the Wall Street Journal. While Amazon has long offered digital content on its website, it’s hardware focus has been content-limited Kindle eReaders. As Amazon attempts to enter streaming video and other “richer” media markets, it sounds logical that they start selling their own hardware which can support and tie-in with these services (as they had done with the Kindle). The details of the Amazon tablet still remain vague before it’s official announcement, but it is expected to run on the Android OS and is not expected to have features such as a camera. http://www.amazon.com/

Apple, eBooks, and the Long Tail Publisher

David Guenette has some cautionary thoughts for the publisher who–quite naturally–will be intrigued by Apple’s new services for publishers being brought to market by Jouve and Innodata-Isogen.

Ebook Formats are Starting to Make More Sense… So be Prepared to Remain Confused during the Evolution

Google Editions, now Google eBooks, has finally shown up, and as was widely anticipated, really will be an ebook game-changer. Technically speaking, Google eBooks is not revolutionary, but the promised transparency of ebook formats across a variety of reading environments (Sony and Barnes and Noble ereaders, desktops and notebooks, and various smartphone devices) is a comfort for both publishers and readers. There have been a number of other efforts—some, perhaps, more vapor than real—that promise much the same thing. Baker & Taylor’s Blio, for example, offers many similar benefits.  PDF and ePub, too, claim a degree of trans-device applicability, and then there is the “apps” approach.

And now, again, there is Amazon. Right on the heels of Google’s announcement of Google eBooks, Amazon has followed the tried-and-true marketing playbook maneuver—also of value to yacht racing, I’m told—of taking the wind out of an opponent’s sails. By expanding Kindle for the Web, Amazon now “…enable[s] anyone with access to a web browser to buy and read full Kindle books—no download or installation required,” according to their December 7, 2010 press release. Amazon’s proprietary .AZW format, with its new, wider platform use, is combating the Google eBook promise of making ebooks easier to use “from the cloud.” Most likely, what Amazon is really trying to do is maintain its position relative to the marketplace’s desire to make ebook buying easier. Here’s Amazon’s positioning, from the aforementioned press release, on the matter:

“Kindle for the Web makes it possible for bookstores, authors, retailers, bloggers or other website owners to offer Kindle books on their websites and earn affiliate fees for doing so,” said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President, Kindle Content. “Anyone with access to a web browser can discover the seamless and consistent experience that comes with Kindle books. Kindle books can be read on the $139 third-generation Kindle device with new high-contrast Pearl e-Ink, on iPads, iPod touches, iPhones, Macs, PCs, BlackBerrys and Android-based devices. And now, anywhere you have a web browser. Your reading library, last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights are always available to you no matter where you bought your Kindle books or how you choose to read them.”

You could easily swap out Google for Amazon, plus one or two particular details, and be reading t from the Google press release from the day before.  Google’s challenge will be to make buying ebooks as easy as Amazon, and neither the history of Google’s clunky interfaces generally, nor the first iteration of Google eBooks’ own web site specifically, convinces me that this will be a slam-dunk for Google.

Still, it is easy to see why publishers are happy with Google’s entry into ebooks, since it helps further shift selling options for ebooks away from the Amazon-centric model.  As much as ebooks—especially for trade publishers—has happened in large part because Amazon got out in front and put real money up to make the market happen, more sales options, and less format-specific constraits for readers will help everyone.

You can rest assured that book publishers will continue to struggle to get ebook formats right for some time to come, despite the generous hype in these recent announcement. Kindle format limitations will still force publishers to balance quality and production costs, and ePub—heading for its 3.0 version sometime—will still hang up on the different features represented within different ereader devices capabilities.

That is just one reason why Outsell’s Gilbane Group’s Publishing Practice is developing a second study, following on the heels of A Blueprint for Book Publishing Transformation: Seven Essential Systems to Re-Invent Publishing. Ebooks, Apps, and Formats: The Practical Issues will looks at the topic of content format, because this remains a central concern for book publishers pursuing digital publishing programs, and involves a wide-ranging set of issues from editorial and production to distribution and ecommerce.

With Google eBooks and Amazon’s for the Web, ebook formats and their marketplace continue to evolve.  It sure ain’t “push-button” yet, however.

Stay tuned. Drop a note.

Why Aren’t Publishers Moving to XML Repositories More Quickly?

As we start to delve into some of the interim results of our survey of book publishing professionals, there is a great deal of good data to mull over. While the results are preliminary (and we welcome your participation here), some trends are emerging.

One interesting set of data points surround how publishers are viewing XML, how extensively they work with it, and what technologies they are using to support the management of the XML. Among those using XML, it’s significant that only about half have invested in some kind of storage mechanism specifically for XML, including both relational databases and dedicated XML repositories such as Mark Logic server.

While that overall number might or might not be so striking, I am struck by what some publishers feel is a barrier to adopting an XML repository, namely, the “Challenge of building XML knowledge, skills, or awareness.”  This trumped more traditional barriers to technology adoption such as cost and the maturity of the technology and would seem, on balance, to be a solvable problem.

 

Green Grow the eBooks, Oh

Perhaps it is the season when everything seems especially fecund, or perhaps I can’t resist abusing the lyrics of late, great Robbie Burns, but there is no “perhaps” about electronic book publishing’s astonishing pace of growth.
The Gilbane Group (a division of Outsell, Inc.), together with research partner BISG, is reaching out to the communities of book publishing professionals.  We invite you to participate in Web-based survey, a central research mechanism for our upcoming study A Blueprint for Book Publishing Transformation: Seven Essential Processes to Re-Invent Publishing. The study will be published in June 2010, and all participants in this survey will have full access to the full-length study through The Gilbane Group website.
At the just concluded 2010 BEA—Book Expo America—our research partner on our upcoming study, A Blueprint for Book Publishing Transformation: Seven Essential Processes to Re-Invent Publishing, delivered some facts and figures in a session there.  Kelly Gallagher, VP of Publishing Services at RR Bowker and BISG Reasearch Committee Chair, presented new research from The Book Industry Study Group on consumer attitudes toward eBook reading. According to the research, eBook sales went from 1.5% of all book sales in Q1 2009 to 5% in Q1 2010, with 33% of eBook buyers entering the market in the last six months. The survey was of eBook reading and purchase behavior from print book readers who recently purchased either an eBook reader or an eBook.
Outsell, Inc., our parent company, has also just published news about ebook market growth in education publishing. From the press release: “Outsell estimates the total global market for K-12 and post-secondary textbooks was $15.2 billion in 2009 and will reach $16.6 billion by 2012, representing a modest [compound annual growth rate] CAGR of 2.6 percent. Digital textbook products will fuel the market growth, with a CAGR of 25 percent, while revenues from print textbooks will decline by 1 percent.”
The Outsell report provides case studies of eight publishers’ innovations, including Pearson, Elsevier, Cambridge University Press, Macmillan, Flat World Knowledge, Cengage Learning, Chegg, and CourseSmart. It also provides potential market scenarios over the next 10 years and their likelihood of occurring, and strategies for publishers to “reclaim” revenues lost during a print-only era. To purchase the report, please visit Outsell, Inc. or click here.
Speaking in links, a reminder to all that we’re in the middle of collecting data from our ongoing survey of book publishing professionals, so if you’re one and you haven’t taken the 10-minutes to complete the Blueprint survey, click here. We seek to gain a clearer picture of ebook and related digital publishing efforts underway among the full spectrum of book publishers. Furthermore, the analyst team at The Gilbane Group seeks to identify a number of “pain points” or barriers encountered by book publishers when it comes to their developing or expanding digital publishing programs, including areas such as royalties, digital format choices, digital print decisions, and distribution problems.
So, it is Spring!  Take a survey!

Atex Announces Support for e-Reader Publishing

Atex announced their content management system, atex content, supports direct publication to e-readers and tablet devices. Media companies can capitalize on these technologies to publish content without custom development. The functionality could also allow publishers to develop new digital revenue streams while increasing the level of customer interaction. As e-reader demand is expected to increase as the technology develops, consumers will require more of their content to be delivered digitally. Atex content could help media companies take advantage of this trend with functionality to streamline digital content publishing. Whether it’s from print or the Web, editors can take content and reuse it in digital devices without needing additional staff or hardware. Instead of relying on a few products, e-readers could help media companies diversify what they provide to consumers. Depending on the model used, a media company will be able to track the content customers like most and allow readers to leave comments and answer poll questions. These social features should help publishers build tighter relationships with their readers and understand what content will retain their interest. www.atex.com