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11 posts from September 2012

Signs of life at Barnes & Noble

I tend to be pretty open with my criticism when I feel an organization is doing something wrong. That’s why I feel compelled to also speak up and give credit when credit is due. In this case, I’d like to applaud some recent announcements by Barnes & Noble.

This recent article from Laura Hazard Owen highlights B&N’s news and the most important point can be summarized in one word: discoverability. B&N has always had the benefit of a brick-and-mortar presence and that presence brings with it years of knowledge about the art of discoverability, at least in the physical world. Now B&N needs to apply that knowledge to the online world.

Most importantly though, I’m thrilled that B&N is acting like a leader here and not simply following Amazon on the critical issue of discoverability.

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HTML5, EPUB 3, and ebooks vs. web apps

One of the benefits of working on TOC is that I get to see some of the behind-the-scenes industry debates that take place via email. Since it’s “formats” month here in TOC-land I thought it would be fun to share a thread about HTML5 vs. EPUB 3 featuring O’Reilly’s Sanders Kleinfeld and the IDPF’s Bill McCoy. They’ve both agreed to share this thread with the TOC community since it helps clarify the state of both EPUB 3 and HTML5.

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Kindle Serials is the next brick in Amazon’s walled garden

The Kindle Serials program was one of the more interesting aspects of Amazon’s big press event a couple of weeks ago. We’ve done a few serial publishing experiments at O’Reilly (e.g., Every Book Is a Startup and Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto) and we’ve confirmed that this approach can help authors and publishers connect with readers more than they might through a traditional book.

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Three questions for…Lou Rosenfeld

1. You recently wrote an article talking about how Rosenfeld Media is “now more than a publishing company.” You talk about adding consulting and training services to your portfolio. How would you respond to skeptics who might say that’s fine for your business, but a typical trade publisher doesn’t have the content or expertise that lends itself to this diversification?

Publishers without content or expertise? I hope they manage to enjoy the view of the approaching iceberg while fumbling for their life jackets.

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Reinventing the Book: How eReaders, Multimedia Content, and Social Reading Are Changing the Way We Read

Screen Shot 2012-09-23 at 6.28.10 PMReinventing the Book. That's the name of the "blog-to-book" project Hyperink created from my Publishing 2020 blog. If you haven't heard of Hyperink you need to check them out. Yes, blog-to-book isn't a new concept but Hyperink is taking it to a new level. Browse the Hyperink site and you'll see they've curated the content of many popular blogs and offer the greatest hits in a convenient to-go format.

You can get a portable version of my blog's most popular posts for only 99 cents. Here are your options:

Hyperink's site for Nook, iPad, PDF and Kindle formats

B&N for the Nook format only

Amazon for the Kindle format only

Take a look and tell me what you think. The Hyperink model is fascinating as I often find myself wanting to dig deeper into new blogs I discover but I don't want to take the time to Instapaper all the more interesting posts. Time is money and if someone like Hyperink is willing to deliver the posts I want I'm more than willing to pay a few dollars for the results, especially since I'll get it in any format I want.


Neutralizing Amazon: Open platforms and services will lead to ebook marketplace disruption

What would you think of a start-up who offers the following?:

  •  Selling ebooks in a model where one simple transaction gives you access to all formats (e.g., PDF, mobi and EPUB).
  • All those ebooks are available in a completely DRM-free manner. There’s no social DRM applied either.
  • Every ebook can be quickly and easily side-loaded to the device of your choice. Got a Kindle? No problem. All purchases will be sent right to it. Same goes for Nooks, Kobos, etc. No more awkward installations with USB cables.
  • No restrictions on reselling your content or loaning it to someone else. Are you finished with that ebook and have no plans to ever open it again? Why not resell it or pass it along to a friend like you’d do with a print book?
  • Enabling and, more importantly, encouraging publishers to have a direct relationship with their customers through this retailing platform.

Sounds too good to be true? I don’t think so. Here’s why…

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What's new with EPUB?

This month’s Tools of Change (TOC) theme is “formats.” Even though O'Reilly's customers still tend to favor PDF it’s clear that mobi and EPUB are the formats with all the momentum. In order to get the scoop on EPUB I decided to go right to the source. The IDPF is the organization that develops and maintains the EPUB standard and Bill McCoy is the IDPF’s Executive Director. Bill was kind enough to sit down and talk with me about the current state of EPUB and where it’s heading.

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Selling ourselves short on search and discovery

As my O'Reilly colleague Allen Noren recently reminded me, online discovery pretty much begins and ends with search engines. Look at the analytics of any website and you'll find the inbound traffic largely comes from Google. So what are we doing as publishers to take better advantage of that fact? What do we expose to those search engines to ensure more of the results displayed point to our websites?

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Piracy, pricing, and ebook hoarding: How is ebook pricing changing our behavior?

I was on a conference call recently talking about piracy with Joe KaraganisBrian O'Leary and Ruediger Wischenbart. At one point someone mentioned that piracy can be avoided when content is made available at a reasonable price and in all convenient formats. That begs the question: What's a "reasonable price"?

I asked the group if they felt $9.99 is the answer. All three of them said that's too high. Maybe we're too focused on the 99-cent phenomenon and, of course, it's hard to state a "reasonable" price when talking generally about all types of books (e.g., trade, technical, etc.) Nevertheless, it's disturbing to think that the future of ebooks features a race to zero on pricing.

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Kindle Remorse: Will consumers ever regret ebook platform lock-in?

If Barnes & Noble doesn't already have a sense of urgency, especially after last week's developments, this quote from a thoughtful piece by Joe Arico should help fire them up:

In the age of the e-reader and tablet, every person that purchases an Amazon Kindle, Nexus tablet or iPad should be viewed as a customer Barnes & Noble will likely never get the chance to serve again.

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