March 6 was World Read Aloud Day and many organizations celebrated by giving away books. Global Mechanic’s A Sweet Story iPad app is one of those freebies. Check it out as it’s Canadian produced and self funded by Global Mechanic. If you like it, consider writing a review as that helps people discover the app.
What is World Read Aloud Day? World Read Aloud Day is a global literacy movement that is about “taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology.”
A Sweet Story iPad app
“A Sweet Story is a charming book packed with lovely illustrations, quirky animation and an assortment of tasty childhood memories. After one reading of A Sweet Story, I found my daughter staying up late, hiding the iPad under the covers to read it one more time. That might be the highest recommendation one can give.” —Linda Simensky, Vice President of Children’s Programming at PBS
“A delicious and fast-moving little story about a brave boy and the food he hates. Best of all, it reads just like a real book.” —Russell Smith, Novelist, Globe and Mail columnist and parent
Aptara—a well-known company in publishing circles that specializes in content production for ebooks and apps—has posted an infographic on how interactive ebooks get built. Interactive eBooks combine mobile and graphic technologies to create reading experiences that go beyond just text on the page.
Craig Mod is one of the book+tech people who I follow because he thinks a lot about the future of books and storytelling and how digital reading is different and, more important, how we can better design for that experience.
40 minutes worth taking out of your day. Watch this instead of some crappy reality tv show.
Centre for Digital Media, 685 Great Northern Way $150 for Both Days (Workshop + Conference) or $75 for Single Day
What’s Mini TOC?
Come out to Vancouver’s first mini-TOC. O’Reilly’s Tools of Change conference is an annual event held in New York every year. Just like TEDx, mini-TOC is a way to bring the same type of stellar programming from the main event to the local stage. This is the first time the event has been held in Vancouver!
Who’s It For?
Smart, engaged, bookish and techy people are going to gather on October 19 and 20 for a series of workshop events on the Friday and a full conference day on the Saturday. If you’re a publisher, author, marketer, designer, programmer or interested in the convergence of books and technology, then this conference is for you.
October 19, 9:30 am to 5 pm: Friday Workshops
Start time is 9:30-10 am for registration, coffee and networking.
Then at 10 am, there are two tracks to choose from, either Tech: HTML5/Mobile or eBook Publishing.
Lunch from 1-2 pm.
The tracks continue on in the afternoon.
When registering, make sure to pick either the Tech or eBook track. I was a bit confused by the registration process. So to clarify, if you’re keen on both days, look for the ticket types that are $150, then select either the Tech or Ebook one. If you’re interested only in the workshop day or only in the conference day, then those are the $75 ticket types, and again if you’re choosing the Friday workshop, make sure to select your preference for the Tech or Ebook track.
October 20, 9 am to 5 pm: Conference Day
Start time is 9 am for registration and coffee. The conference gets underway at 9:30 with some introductory remarks and the Keynote from Corey Pressman of Exprima Media, “From Caves to Clouds: The Journey to Contentopia”
Corey Pressman taught Anthropology for 12 years before leaving teaching to start Exprima Media, a software company dedicated to creating robust and engaging educational experiences for the web and native mobile platforms. Exprima Media is currently working with publishers such as W.W. Norton, John Wiley & Sons, and McGraw Hill to build the future of educational interactive media. Also, under Corey’s direction, Exprima Media is participating in the ‘global mobile’ revolution, developing educational mobile applications for use in less economically developed nations.
I’m super excited for the next presenter, Igor Falestski of Mobify.com, who will be talking about designing for multiple screens. Meaning, how do publishers plan for and design for iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Android devices, desktop and whatever other devices are out there.
Great presentations follow on academic publishing and mobile apps, digital publishing models, challenges with discoverability in online marketplaces, book design, legal conundrums and the advantages and disadvantages of digital reading.
* There is a 50% early bird discount that ends Friday.
Ticket prices right now are the discounted price: $75 for one day or $150 for both
Don’t Forget Ignite
And, stick around after 5 pm on Saturday for the reception and IGNITE presentations. In case you’re unfamiliar with Ignite, it’s a style of presentation that is flash fire and timed. The format is 20 slides displayed for 20 seconds each. It’s a real performance!
1. A free app called iBooks Author will let me, or anyone, create a digital interactive textbook. My gears are already turning as apparently from the live blogs, it’s very fast to create an ebook, which means I can cross off that New Year’s resolution from 2011 (I believe in carry over resolutions. I still have to make bread, which was a resolution in 2008.)
2. An update to iTunes U, which lets educators share and communicate curriculum with students using the iPad. There are a number of courses that people can take for free via iTunes U. This means I should check out whether I want to offer an online marketing course via iTunes U as you can apparently design and distribute complete courses, including audio, video, books and other content. I assume there’s a paid version too? Will need to check, unless some kind soul will tell me in the comments.
3. A new textbook store called iBooks 2, which is also a free app that will feature digital ebooks for schools. Major textbook publishers are on board, and I’m excited about the enhanced ebook possibilities for textbooks.
For enhanced ebooks, iBooks really offers the best capabilities. I really hope textbook publishers create some cool stuff here!
I’m excited about the announcement. What do you think?
I spent a couple of evenings reorganizing our bookshelves at home to be colour coordinated and organized by genre. Apparently so did crazedadman (read that one more time craze dad man). Not only did he organize his own shelves, he then thought to get his wife and a ton of volunteers involved in making this stop-motion video of animated books.
The perfect app for frustrated librarians dealing with mis-shelved books. This augmented reality app for Android devices makes rearranging a joyful chore. Developed by Miami University’s Augmented Reality Research Group. http://www.muarrg.com
National Post says “West is best”
Brad Frenette talks books and publishing on the westcoast with Billie Livingston, Ian Weir, Kevin Chong, Caroline Adderson, John Vaillant, Timothy Taylor, Annabel Lyon, Zsuzsi Gartner, and Steven Galloway. http://arts.nationalpost.com/2011/04/29/vancouver/
Chromaroma is game that turns London tube travel into a system of rewards and points for its players.
Players sign up with Chromaroma and then provide their Oyster Card data (London’s transit card), along with other details such as teams or friends they want to connect with on the site. Chromaroma imports the player’s Tube history and awards points for each trip. Players can track their stats and also see new ways to travel, new destinations or ways to gain bonus points by connecting with fellow passengers and discovering mysteries attached to particular locations.
Storytude is a website and app for Android and iPhone that lets you find stories based on your location. The fictional stories based on read-world locations can be called up as a literary way to discover a city. At the moment, Storytude is focussed on Germany, in particular Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich and Cologne.
I tweeted about Matthew Ingram’s post Book Publishers Need to Wake Up and Smell the Disruption and received replies from my publishing friends that were inline with the comments Matthew received on his blog. But Matthew struck a chord for me, not with his outlier examples of self-published authors selling great numbers of books for less than a dollar, but with his comments about the accumulating evidence that Kindle and iPad are industry disrupters and, in particular, that they are going to continue to have an impact on author-publisher contracts. Again, we can argue about what we consider evidence, but this is my perspective from marketing, sales and technology.
1. Technology Continues to Transform the Publishing Industry
The Product Life Cycle for some categories of printed books is in decline, meaning that the revenue generated by that category has gone from development, introduction, and growth, peaked at maturity and is now in decline (declining revenue).
In that Decline Stage, publishers have exercised all the options:
* Maintaining the product as is.
* Reducing the costs and finding new uses for the product (rejuvenating backlist)
* Lowering prices to liquidate inventory (hello front of store at Indigo)
* Promotion (reinforcing brand image, celebrity-driven)
But at the end of the day, this is a declining category. Due to brand or author loyalty, profitability may be maintained longer for some. Plus, product life cycle doesn’t map completely to a predictable sales forecast since, in the case of cookbooks, the product doesn’t stand alone. Each book category is part of a larger ecosystem, it’s not dying in a petri dish independent of other factors.
That said, Matthew Ingram’s post Wake Up and Smell the Disruption calls to mind that marketing managers do need to address the challenges that products in a declining stage are likely to face.
For example, in the case of cookbooks, would-be-buyers are also happy to access content for free online.
A common publisher argument is that the quality of a cookbook vs. the quality of an online recipe vastly differs.
Is the above image from a cookbook?
Or from a blog?
The fact that free content exists means that some would-be-buyers will chose free over quality, or just as good over quality, especially if free = as good as paid.
Cookbooks, Travel, Reference: the next publisher argument is that these are outliers. Maybe they are right now, but they won’t always be.
Kindle, Kobo, iPad and even mobile phones are changing the game.
Let’s just look at text-based fiction and non-fiction. I’m not talking about the reading experience of architecutre books, photography, or kids books, just basic text.
Here’s the competition in a would-be-buyer’s mind:
* Print copy, hardcover, of The Shallows for $33.50 from an independent bookseller
* Print copy, hardcover, of The Shallows for $21.00 from Indigo at a 34% discount
* Kobo, digital edition, of The Shallows for $9.99 at a 63% discount on the list price
The arguments about whether digital is a better reading experience or not are inconsequential to many would-be-buyers when presented with $9.99 vs. $33.50 or even $21.
If you said to someone, “would you like to pay more for that,” the answer is rarely “yes.”
Digital editions of books and app versions of books are directly competing with the print editions.
* an ebook buyer is the same buyer as print
* same demographic/psychographic
In terms of marketing, this is good because we know these people. In terms of sales revenue, it’s bad because ebooks do not represent a new, expanded market audience.
The power buyers of ebooks are:
* 30-44 years old
* they entered the ebook market 6 months to 2 years ago
* as power buyers, they buy weekly
In terms of unit growth, sales units are up but this does not compensate for lost revenue.
In our above example, $23.51 differentiates the ebook version of The Shallows vs. the print edition.
We are seeing at least a $5 differential for ebooks vs. print.
In addition to that lost revenue, as an ebook buyer buys more ebooks—becomes more at ease with reading digital vs. print, enjoys the simplicity of buying on-demand, and is rewarded with reading on the go or at night in bed with the backlit screen—they buy fewer hardcover and paperbacks.
Ebooks do canabalize print (especially when measuring revenue dollars).
(This is the point I have mulled over the least so contemplate and critique vs. simply criticizing please.)
The four categories here are:
Dogs: Low market share and low growth rate. They neither generate nor consume a large amount of cash. Backlist titles.
Question marks: Rapidly growing but also consuming large amounts of cash. Because they have low market share, do not generate much cash. The problem child. eBooks and apps.
Stars: Strong market share but also consume large amounts of cash. Frontlist. Especially frontlist print+ebook. Stars, if well positioned, can become the next cash cows and ensure future cash generation.
Cash cows: Leaders in a mature market. Generate more cash than they consume. Generates a relatively stable cash flow. Value can be determined with reasonable accuracy. The ideal print book.
You can see, of course, the immediate limitations. I’m not sure how many publishers can quickly identify their Cash Cows, as the margins in publishing are so small.
The other issue is that the many factors of profitability are overlooked in this simplified view since the products in each quadrant are not independent of the others. A dog of a cookbook could still help another cookbook gain competitive advantage. The amplification of awareness for series, or the celebrity book that is really about giving the author competitive advantage over others on speaking circuits are other examples of how this ecosystem isn’t as simple as the above framework.
The reason I bring up the matrix is that it’s a starting point for discussing resource allocation and strategic planning for those products in a Declining Stage (print books) and those in a Growth Stage (ebooks and apps).
The growth stage is the period where sales increase as more customers become aware of the product and create demand, which fuels retailers to become interested in carrying the product.
Certainly what we are seeing with the growth of ebooks and consumer demand for Kindle and iPad.
Regardless of Matthew Ingram’s examples of outliers like Seth Godin, there are fundamentals publishers need to face:
1. Book publishing is a technology-enabled business.
2. A conversation about a technology-enabled business is a conversation about market changes.
3. We can argue about the speed of change and the type of changing coming, but we should mentally prepared for the fact that change is coming (like waves on a shore).
4. There is a lifecycle for everything. People argued to keep scrolls, but they printed those arguments in bound books. (See Johannes Trithemius)
5. Few people are successfully managing the product lifecycle in all 4 quadrants. (DRM and borrowing restrictions are not endearing consumers yet publishers are implementing these measures as a necessary way to support the required staff to keep both print and ebook development during this transitionary period. Matthew Ingram points out some of the mathematical challenges of the author-publisher contracts in his post, which aren’t endearing authors either, who I think are the glue that holds the whole thing together.)
6. “Change happens through a process, not a product” (Kate Fialkowski). The internet and ereaders have changed the way we read. Search engines, websites, wikis and blogs have changed the way we publish and share information.
7. The game changers tend to be outsiders to the industry. Music changed because of the development of MP3, which meant we could more easily share music, which led to peer-to-peer sites like Napster. Then iTunes changed the cost structure. Blockbuster > Netflix. Banking > Online Banking.
What I took from Matthew Ingram’s article was just another reminder that as Kate Fialkowski says, the game changers redefine the ecosystem, change the business models, price points, distribution systems, and support processes.
A coffee at Starbucks costs more than a $1.50 because they changed the game. They can demand $6+ for what tastes to me like shitty, burnt coffee with excessive sweeteners that will likely develop gut rot for an entire generation because they created demand for that product.
Publishers fearing the lost of authors and staff is not equal to fearing that one of them wins the lottery.
If you value an employee, you should consider that they could win the lottery and leave.
But really, the probability of an employee winning the lottery is pretty low in comparison to the probability that good people will leave the industry altogether or that the smartest will be picked off by start-ups providing incentives to acquire the best talent. See Open Road Media, Kobo and any number of interesting new ventures.
I don’t want to haggle over the definition of “lottery” but I can tell you that the folks holding the big cheques are the ones doing ebook conversion and app development.
And a happy dance can be a lottery in itself.
(People in the system are going to make money in unexpected ways. The ones who will keep making money are the ones who understand the motivating factors of their consumers and are able to repeatedly win them over. Excuse me now, I have a new iPad 2 to purchase. Let me know what books to buy.)
On Friday, I explained how university students in 1997 would have accessed magazine articles published prior to that year.
* go to the library
* search the internal system or the card catalogue to find the shelf reference number (if there was a physical copy available) otherwise go to the special librarian to get the microfiche
* schedule time to use the microfiche reader
Microfiche: Microfiche is a card-shaped piece of photographic film, usually 4x6 or 3x5 inches in size, used for the storage of miniaturized text in a grid pattern. It can be read only with the aid of magnification by use of a microfiche reader. Microfiche may contain a printed book, journal, or newspaper. (Source: lib.uwo.ca)
How fun does that look?
What ancient technology can I explain this week? Maybe the dictaphone (which is a word my spell check does not recognize).
Good article in the Globe and Mail this weekend about the film business, the long tail and how digital changes everything.
Have a read and remember Chris Anderson’s Theory of the Long Tail:
The democratization of the tools for production, democratization of distribution, and the ability to connect supply with demand has a huge impact on the cost of reaching customers, the choice in the market, changes to consumption patterns and a move from a small number of hits to a large number of niche products.
We see here the long tail of theatre revenue: ticket prices, popcorn.
We see the “experience” change as this media business discovered what they could upsell to make up for falling revenue: 3D, specialty food, games, dvds.
The cost of distribution (digital vs. film reels) should have decreased the ticket price. Instead it has increased and we’re blind to that because we’re paying for the upsells, or the experience.
Books, magazines and newspapers need to figure out the upsell.
In “The economics of the movie business” reporter Susan Krashinsky looks at what’s driven the film industry lately, and what will propel it in the future.
What fuels the industry? Studios + theatres
2 major components of the industry: the studios that make the films and the theatres that show them.
Theatres are ok because they’ve created new experiences that audiences are willing to pay for.
Studios, like publishers, are in trouble. The challenge is falling DVD sales
What’s driving the industry: Concessions and popcorn profit
“Cineplex gets roughly 59 per cent of its revenue from the box office and 30 per cent from concessions, but the real profit is in popcorn. Theatres’ profit margins on a movie ticket are roughly 48 per cent of sales, but they get to keep about 80 per cent of what you pay for food. In the United States, those margins are closer to 90 per cent.”
How are things in Canada?
Canadian theatres, such as Cineplex, chose to franchise instead of seek more concession revenue. Specialty food courts in theatres bring in more cash overall.
“Cineplex chief executive officer Ellis Jacob said. ‘We do a lot more money per person than [the U.S. chains] do, and the reason is we’re giving you more choice.’”
Help us all. Apparently theatres will go the way of airports. Self-service drinks and payment processing.
What’s up with 3D and digital?
3D lets the theatre charge a $3 premium.
Why switch to digital projectors and 3D? Big savings
Pay attention to Anderson.
Digital is cheaper to make and ship than film reels.
“For Imax, a film print for one of its big screens costs about $20,000 (U.S.) while a digital print is closer to $200. Regular movies are about $1,200 (U.S.) on celluloid, but the savings on the digital are still significant for the studios, and agreements are in the works to subsidize those prints so the cost is neutral for exhibitors.”
Premium tickets: Everyone can be a VIP
When you can no longer charge the same for a digital experience as you could for a physical one, you have to find new things to sell. New points along the demand curve. For movies, it is 3D and premium tickets for reserved seating, leatherette chairs, bigger screens, VIP auditoriums for 19+ viewers, in-seat concession services and booze.
The international market is seeing fast growth
If you make a film with an international audience in mind, then you can capitalize on the marketing to an international audience. Rich Gelfond, CEO of Imax, cites the movie Inception, which is shot in various locations from Tokyo to Paris. “As studios try to sell to more global audiences, he said, they’re trying to look more global too.”
Global action: Imax follows the global trend
More screens: China, Russia, Thailand and Kazakhstan
“In 2008, Imax released 4 movies in China, and this year, it will have 13.”
Edward Jay Epstein, author of The Hollywood Economist, says comedy translates less easily internationally but for action movies, “as much as 78 per cent of the box office comes from overseas.”
Fill in the blanks by reading the full article: Globe and Mail
* Partner Program
* Library Project
* Google Editions
Google has the engineering quality and the data quantity to make them the leader today. Having more books means more content to index, more knowledge and more possible results. Plus, more pages to serve up with advertising, therefore more possible revenue for Google.
Google Book Search is possible because the scanned book data is integrated into general search results.
Partner Program targets publishers or rights owners (writers).
* Materials are indexed (from digital files from books that are digitized—printed books are scanned)
* Publisher decides what books are displayed and what percentage of the book can be displayed
* Material is browse only
* Buying options are available and the publisher can set the priority order of the buy links (i.e., publisher site listed first, then Amazon or other)
* Revenue stream is text ads
Google Book Settlement
* Started as the library project. They scanned entire library collections.
* Included books published up to 5 January 2009, includes orphan works, public domain works
* Google said “we’ll scan, you get a copy and we’ll get a copy too”
* Google will sell full-text access, which is why this is under review in the courts, read here “opt-out class action”
* Revenue streams: text ads, individual consumer purchase, institutional subscription fees
* Revenue share with the Book Rights Registry (which doesn’t exist right now)
Book Rights Registry
* Cost to run will be deducted from the publishers’ 60% revenue share
* In the partner program, there’s the publisher-Google relationship. In the settlement, the program requires you to pay for this additional level.
* In the partner program you can also see the insights (traffic, sales). Here, that info goes to the registry.
* The settlement has explicit rules that might attempt to overrule the existing author/publisher contract
* Because it’s opt-out, Google can now scan all the books it comes across regardless of whether the publisher/rights holder ignores Google or if rights holders have died or gone out of business.
* The settlement is the “other” category, it covers whatever is not covered by other agreements
* The settlement is not yet approved
* Books published after Jan 2009 are not part of the settlement
For Google, books are a giant database to be mined for content pages to index.
The deep mining of this data set means Google’s optical recognition software learns as it goes, making it the best.
* Not launched yet, concrete details
* Digital bookstore, not just discoverability (Partner Program), this is about sales
* Books are included by request
* Agency model pricing: 37-63% split
* This is the extension of the Partner Program. Users discover the books through Google Book Search and then buy via Google Editions
* Google will sell ebooks in whatever format and whatever geographic region where rights are held
The settlement is the default agreement and applies to eligible books (pre-Jan 2009) whenever another Google agreement isn’t already in place.
Google Editions may be combined with the Partner Program.
Regardless of the agreement, books will show up in Google Book Search.
* strengthen your own presence online
* optimize your site for search
* if you haven’t opted out of the settlement then claim all your books before 31 March 2011 (if you don’t claim your books, you get no cash payments)
* scan your own books (Google doesn’t give you a copy)