I came away from The London Book Fair 2019 with a resounding feeling of hope (along with the usual sleep deprivation, sore throat and body odour).
Digital publishing as a whole and ebooks in general seem to be gaining momentum for a revival, a renaissance. A second coming.
I am proud to count myself amongst the number of individuals, start ups and small companies who, rather than simply accepting the demoralising stranglehold that Amazon has had on trade publishing for too long, are doing something about it.
I saw several simple solutions that I hope will give you the same positive feeling. Here are my personal highlights:
Colbrio have come up with a world class ebook reader. Sleek, powerful and most importantly adaptable with their open framework. It completely handles the professional presentation of fixed and reflowable publications and includes complex interactivity and a pagination engine that surpasses even the gold standard of Apple Books.
Glassboxx is a neat, new and secure way for audio and ebooks to be promoted, purchased and delivered to mobile. Suitable for publishers of all sizes who are looking to sell direct. A simple, clean solution which operates for a transparent and reasonable cut of the sale price.
MasterPlan is my own rather marvellous solution for securely presenting PDF, EPUB or InDesign published content directly into any chosen website and allowing full text search, quality social sharing and access control down to the individual user, spread and minute.
Tapbooks comes as two well presented tablet apps. A paid for creator app that allows parents, teachers and children themselves to create stories that are then ready to be read out loud using a free reader app. In doing so, the story beautifully animates and reacts and at the pace of the child’s own voice.
A combined editing and creation platform that cleverly brings editorial teams working in MS Word into a standardised workflow and then publishes out to InDesign, EPUB, PDF and more. Easy integration with the neat online or offline editing tool that I saw demoed too.
These products are being homegrown in small and agile companies in the UK and Northern Europe and are already finding investment and customers. Each has been built with APIs and SDKs (ways for such technologies to work together) so these products can easily integrate with each other and with systems already established or yet to come.
All these solutions deserve attention. I hope you agree with me that they all show the signs of a quiet revolution and a brighter future for digital publishing. Please leave comments to let me know if you share my optimism and feel free to let me know other hidden gems you found.
Ken Jones runs . He was Technical Production Manager and Publishing Software Trainer for Penguin and Dorling Kindersley for many years and now offers software, training and advice to publishers such as Quarto Group, Bonnier Books and Pan Macmillan on how to get the best from their print and digital workflow.
If you want to be an ebook expert, join Ken on 28th May for a one-day training course, hosted by BookMachine, on Understanding eBooks. Details are here.