The internet has changed a lot in the last ten years. Well, even in the last two. Maybe even in the last week. Ok, so it’s ever-changing. New languages are being developed and perfected all the time, and the rise of apps plus innovative web design means users expect a different browsing experience. With more people than ever before buying and browsing books online, publishers have a real opportunity to go head to head with other retailers (should they so wish) by investing a massive amount in their web presence. And no, I’m not talking about setting up a Twitter account that auto-Tweets links to Amazon.
I try not to read the comments sections of a lot of websites because generally they are filled with postulating jerks who have glanced at the headline and perhaps the sub-header of an article and become incensed enough to burst their self-righteous gland all over the internet. A marked exception to this is the yearly Booker backlash, which I watch with that sick pleasure usually reserved for early episodes of Masterchef.
Picture the technology available when you were a child… I dont know about you but, I dont consider myself to be that old (30’s ahem) and things were pretty shabby. 2D graphics with the only movement in a game being left to right, phone boxes (and calling the operator for a reverse charge call to your mum) no internet and a computer room at school where you could sit in front of a giant box and grow an electronic sunflower in double science (anyone remember that gem?!).
A couple of months I wrote an article for the Futurebook blog in recognition of the site’s world-wide reach, and I thought it was time to share some of these thoughts with the BookMachine crowd and also re-visit some of the scenarios, which have now been published.
Working at a design agency that primarily works with educational publishers has given me an understanding of many requirements and considerations that need to be met for producing material (both print & digital) for many different markets. However, publishing for a global market is different to market specific publishing. The premise is that technology has made content (books, ebooks, websites, resources etc) accessible to a wider range of audiences across the world. This poses new challenges for publishers who need to meet the demands and requirements of a global market.
Publishers generally don’t sell advertising space. There’s an underlying fear that this will have a negative impact on readers. What is this fear based on and are there examples of how this model can work?
One of the criticisms of advertising is that it offends the consumer’s sense of good taste by insulting and degrading his intelligence. But surely that’s a criticism in itself? I’d like to think that as a consumer you are deemed intelligent enough to decide what is the right product for your needs.
Let’s start with some sums and a hypothetical situation for book publishers and an app build…
A team of designers and researchers over at OnlineTeachingDegree.com have designed an infographic highlighting how they believe e-readers are inspiring us (or folks in the States at least) to hit the books.
What do you think? Are e-readers making a difference? Take a look below…
(via Kaitlyn White)
Last week there was a bit of a furore in the publishing world after a Guardian journalist Ewan Morrison slated social media promotion by self published authors, basically saying that as a promotional tool Twitter and Facebook etc were overrated and authors should focus on writing books, probably. I know that was a rabid paraphrase, but do go read the article if you want specifics because it’s interesting and incendiary, which are two of the best things an article can be.
In the world of business journalism, where I come from, the idea of a publishing brand, is common. Forbes, Financial Times, and The Economist are all household names. Book publishing, however, evolved quite differently, primarily because of its distribution and monetization models. Book publishers haven’t traditionally sold directly to their customers nor have they had to worry about making money through advertising, which requires a strong brand and an intimate understanding of one’s readership.
Earlier this month children’s author G.P. Taylor began a debate on BBC Breakfast by announcing he thought children’s books ought to come with age certifications similar to films. His comments elicited strong criticism from other children’s authors, including Charlie Higson, who wrote a rebuttal in the Guardian.
It’s not the first time age ratings have come up. A few years ago, publishers tried to introduce them and were met with resistance from authors, educators and the public. The No to Age Banding Campaign collected over 4,000 signatures and the idea was dropped.
So why is it back? Taylor said he believes children’s books have become too scary and that we need to be careful what we expose young readers to. Higson argued that it is important for children to be able to explore dark themes in books because they experience all sorts of things, are exposed to all sorts of information, and books need to reflect that to be relevant.
My gut reaction to the discussion Taylor sparked is that age certifications are a bad idea, and I spoke to children’s librarian Clare Hartnett and children’s bookseller Kate Agnew, of the Children’s Bookshop in Muswell Hill, to find out what they think about age certifications and scary books for children.
Here’s what I learned…
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…
Human beings love stories. Narrative is central to how we make sense of the world around us. It explains religions, superstition, myths and legends, and it’s core to our culture. In fact, in one of my favourite popular science books, The Science of Discworld II: The Globe, the authors, Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, devote themselves to the importance of narrative (or narrativium, as they would have it) to the world, and suggest that instead of Homo Sapiens, a better name for the human species would be Pans Narrans – the Storytelling Ape.