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8 posts from January 2013

Knowing when to outsource

I was on a call earlier today with John Costa of Qbend. We’re putting together the final outline for the TOC NY session called Connecting to and Engaging Your Ebook Consumers. It’s a session I’m particularly excited about because it covers an extremely important topic for publishers: Establishing a direct sales channel.

One of the themes I’m hearing consistently across the publishing industry is that revenue and internal resources are shrinking. As a result, publishers are being forced to focus on what they do best and outsource the rest.

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Towards a better book recommendation service

The ideal content discovery service has yet to be invented. Plenty have tried but none have truly succeeded. The latest is venture is BookScout from Random House. It’s a nifty Facebook app that uses your social graph to help you discover relevant content. As Laura Hazard Owen recently discovered though, it’s far from perfect.

Reading Laura’s post reminded me of something a wise person told me last year: Just because I’m Facebook friends with you doesn’t mean we have the same reading interests. In fact, I’d be willing to bet my reading interests don’t map very well to any of my friends, real or virtual.

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Extracting value from uncertain data

At TOC NY 2012 I made a point of telling attendees they need to learn the essentials of “big data.” It was still a fairly new concept then and a completely foreign one to most of the crowd. What a difference a year makes.

At next month’s TOC NY we’ll continue the dialog about big data and how it’s a resource every publisher needs to embrace. One of those TOC NY sessions features Rich Maraschi from IBM; I’ll have the pleasure of joining Rich in this session to help take big data from concept to reality.

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High-quality PDF-to-EPUB conversion

How many times have you opened an ebook and noticed awkward hyphenations or other conversion errors? I still see this in the majority of the ebooks I buy and it’s clear these are the result of someone not paying attention during the conversion process. They may be minor annoyances but they reflect poorly on the publishers who produce them.

I recently had a chance to talk about this problem with Patrick Martinent, the CTO at Newgen KnowledgeWorks. They have a terrific platform called Silk Evolve that helps automate and reduce the errors when going from PDF to EPUB. The following Q&A is a preview to what you can expect to hear in Patrick’s session at next month’s TOC NY conference.

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Length and spine width in a digital-first world

I’m still working through this extremely long exchange between Nicholas Carr and Clay Shirky about containers and contents but one point keeps jumping out at me: We have got to get away from thinking every “book” has to be at least a couple of hundred pages long.

The Carr/Shirky discussion pulls in the oft-used music analogy. And yes, the shift to digital music meant we no longer had to buy the entire album. We are now free to buy only the tracks we really like. Many look to extrapolate that into books and claim consumers are dying to buy individual chapters. That may be true for a few genres but there’s a much more important lesson here.

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HTML5: The code to maximizing revenue

Have you heard all the hype about HTML5 but you’re still not sold on it? You need to read the latest whitepaper from SPi Global. It’s called HTML5: The Code to Maximizing Revenue and it does a terrific job explaining why this technology is so important. The document is only 7 pages long but it will give you a solid foundation. Here are a few of my favorite excerpts from the whitepaper:

Abandoning the “walled garden” environment of downloaded applications also has distinct SEO advantages, because only one set of search criteria is needed to make content discoverable across platforms.

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