• Home

Category: New technologies

Digital publishing

This is a guest blog post by Steve Connolly, Publishing Director for FE and Digital at Hodder Education. This blog post first appeared on the Publishing Training Centre Blog.

When we pause for thought to contemplate the evolution of digital publishing, it is clear that a revolution has taken place in the way that content is produced and consumed. However, it is equally remarkable (and healthy to note) that print product still drives much of what the publishing industry produces and monetises. The most notable player in terms of driving the eBook revolution (now slowing to an evolution) is Amazon: a major disruptor in online retailing, positioning and recommending product, manufacturing innovative hardware (yes – Kindle was innovative in terms of adopting established technology and making it a mass market device), driving down prices and providing publishers with new ways of packaging and distributing their IP. In addition, mobile technology is now so prevalent worldwide that it cannot be ignored as a means of consuming content.

So, other than driving this rapid growth in digital consumption that can’t be ignored, what does mobile technology represent for publishers? It has promoted the creation of universally adopted (adapted in Amazon’s case) standards in the shape of ePub, and has forced us all to think in terms of the creation of our content in new ways. Any publisher who fails to think in terms of scalable and standards-driven workflow / outputs is not necessarily going to go out of business, but they will seriously hinder their ability to leverage their IP to its greatest potential. Others who have posted on this site have pointed to the ways in which copy-editing has evolved, with most editorial tasks now being completed on screen, including standard mark-up and tagging of content using consumer tools such as Word. This is a quiet but fundamental shift; and where we start to standardise the ways in which we describe elements of content (form and function), we have the foundations of a workflow that results in content that can be re-used with greater efficiency in a myriad of contexts – print, online, mobile, XML, interactive games and assessment etc.

For many of us working in what is ostensibly a creative industry, standards can seem to be the equivalent of watching digital paint dry. In my journey from being a print publisher to someone who creates and helps others create interactive content, I have discovered the importance of standards (tagging, XML, epub etc.) in the planning, generation and distribution of a range of published products – from interactive etextbooks to standardised assessment engines. All of this originates from a set of principles that were agreed across our business and were applied at each point in the supply chain. Some of what we do is driven by international standards and some by our own proprietary rules, allowing us to provide the market with innovative and high-quality content-led services at a faster rate and at lower cost than would have otherwise been the case.

Decisions on “digital” require a multi-component model that considers at least eight aspects, such as:

  • Developments in technology – what’s important and (importantly) what’s not?
  • Market expectations
  • Business expectations and rules
  • Analysis of the competition
  • Defining your product
  • Workflow and content creation
  • Return on investment
  • Marketing and selling

Steve is a tutor on the PTC’s flagship course for editors in the educational, academic, scientific and professional sectors, Commissioning and List Management (CLM) happening next on September 25 – 28 2017.

I was talking to a customer about their ebook publishing programme last week and heard that they are looking for a simple way to send copies of reflowable and fixed layout ebooks out for approval. Their question was this:

“Is there a straightforward way for someone outside of the company to open and read an eBook?”

 

ken-fig-1

Well someone once said “knowledge is power” and as the newly christened head of the BookMachine Production channel I thought I should share the answer I gave them here.

A little history

EPUB2 was first approved as an ebook standard way back in 2007. For reflowable text novels it was, and arguably still is, a good enough format. However, ebooks have the potential to be much more. Lots of new features that have were introduced into of the EPUB3 standard such as audio, video, animation, read aloud text highlighting, fixed layout design control and more. Here’s a longer list if you really want to know more.

With extra interactions and much better accessibility too it sounds like a good idea, right? But, although EPUB3 happened five years ago, still today the appetite from publishers for adding interactivity into their ebooks is… well… lets say less than ravenous. There are a few reasons for this but one of the biggest is the lack of reliable support for these feature in most ebook reading devices.

The IDPF (the body that decide upon and maintain the EPUB standards) have made it their mission to encourage the uptake of the modern EPUB3 standard. A very neat way for them to demonstrate how modern EPUB3 readers could and should work is by building one. They have done this. It’s called Readium. It’s very good.

ken-fig-2

Not content with just demonstrating how it can be done they also license the SDK (the ‘software development kit’) to ebook developers for use in their own products e.g. Adobe Digital Editions and Cloudshelf Reader. But, best of all, they allow web developers and everyone else to use Readium in the browser entirely free of charge.

How to open ebooks in your browser

On any modern desktop or laptop PC or Mac:

1) Install and Open the Google Chrome Browser.

2) Install the Readium Chrome Extension

3) Launch and click the ‘Add to Library’ (the plus icon) to upload any EPUB2 or EPUB3 either reflowable or fixed layout.

4) Click on the cover to open and read the EPUB, including the table of content, links and rich interactive features all work right there in the browser.

Note: By adding a book to the library you are not uploading it. Even though you are in a browser, the Readium Chrome Extension will continue to work whilst offline.

Tip: To delete an ebook you must view the library in list view and then click on the ‘Details’ button to find the ‘Delete’ button.

A word of warning

The EPUB is an ‘open’ standard just like MP3 or PDF. This is important and intentional but it does mean that sending your unrestricted EPUB file to someone means they are able to read and also SHARE this file, just like you did. Along with discoverability, the restrictions on sharing that Apple, Amazon and other ebook retailers add on top the ebook is the real value that they add for their 30% cut of the sale price.

More possibilities…

For publishers looking for a little more, these powerful Readium tools also make it possible for companies like mine to build more features into a browser based service. For instance by adding full text search and access/sharing controls that work by simply sharing a URL that can be opened in any modern browser.

Take a look at an example here.

ken-fig-3

Ken Jones is a publishing software expert with over ten years experience as Technical Production Manager, software trainer and developer at DK and Penguin Group UK. Ken’s company ‘Circular Software’ provides software tools and services for a range of illustrated book publishing customers including Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Thames & Hudson and Nosy Crow. Contact Ken via twitter @circularken or www.circularsoftware.com

Long considered nothing more than a gimmicky fad, it turns out that augmented reality (AR) is actually alive and well. At least that’s the case when it’s associated with a brand as large as Pokemon.

By now you’ve undoubtedly heard all the Pokemon Go stories and maybe you’ve even dodged a player or two, overly-focused on their phone while embarking on a virtual hunting expedition. On the surface it’s nothing more than another time-wasting game but I believe it offers some very important lessons for publishers.

Let’s start with the hybrid, print-plus-digital opportunity. Recent reports indicate ebook sales have plateaued and growth has shifted back to the print format. There are a number of underlying reasons for these trends including higher ebook prices as well as the adult coloring book phenomenon. But as I’ve said before, publishers need to stop thinking about print and digital as an either/or proposition. Some customers prefer print while others lean towards digital. Many readers are in both camps, switching between print and digital based on genre, pricing, convenience, etc.

Most publishers overlook the fact that digital can be used to complement and enhance print. Skeptical? Have a look at a few of the demos Layar offers on this page.

Stop and think about how something like Layar could be used to bring your static pages to life. Maybe you publish how-to guides, print is your dominant format and you’ve always wondered how you could integrate videos with the text. You’ve tried inserting urls but very few readers bother typing them in. QR codes are an option but they’re clunky and take up precious space on the page. Why not use AR to virtually overlay those videos on the page without having to dump in a bunch of cryptic-looking urls or QR codes?

Are you looking to engage your readers in the book’s/author’s social stream? Here’s your chance to integrate them virtually using a platform like Layar.

Better yet… have you always wanted to know who all those nameless, faceless consumers are who bought your print book from third-party retailers like Amazon or Barnes & Noble? Here’s an opportunity as a publisher or author to initiate a conversation directly with your readers. Add an Easter egg to the print edition where readers can receive a reward via an AR-powered offer; you will, of course, ask for each reader’s name and email address before handing out those rewards.

This approach to marrying digital to print is totally unobtrusive. Print readers who don’t want to bother with their phones can continue reading the book without interruption. Those customers interested in learning more, interacting with authors or uncovering special publisher offers will likely see the value of connecting their phones with the printed page.

The possibilities are endless. So the next time you see a Pokemon Go player wandering aimlessly be sure to thank them for helping identify new ways of distributing, promoting and enriching content.

Joe WikertJoe Wikert is director of strategy and business development at Olive Software. This post was originally published on his blog, ‘Joe Wikert’s Digital Content Strategies‘, where he writes opinion pieces on the rich content future of publishing.

Julia How co-founded The Witcherley Book Company in 2013. They now have a list of over 50 titles in an expanding catalogue, mainly covering puzzle books and comedy fiction. Here Julia talks about how The Witcherley Book Company have been using Nielsen Book2Look widgets for engaging their readers.

Around 40% of the world’s population has an Internet connection. Back in 1995, it was just 1%. Does that make it easy for publishers to get their books found by everyone online? Not really. As Internet usage increases, the amount of content on the web is increasing exponentially. To give you an even more precise figure, the amount of content on the Internet has started to double every 9-24 months.

So how do publishers go about getting their books found amongst this plethora of content? For a start; it helps to try something different – a new format, for example – to take your readers by surprise, and give them a better experience than they are used to. Nielsen Book2Look widgets do just that. They allow book publishers to share book extracts on their websites and on author websites, whilst also encouraging readers to share what they have found on social media.

We signed up to Book2Look widgets as soon as we heard of them, and have benefited from the range of features ever since. Here are some of the benefits:

QR codes

QR codes are a marketers’ marmite. They either work for you, or they don’t at all. Our main use for QR codes is in the back matter of other books in a series, but they have also been very useful on printed promotional materials: on leaflets, catalogues, bookmarks etc. With the increased use of mobile phones to access and buy products, they allow us to link through to a professional online book display.

ONIX and analytics

Smart publishers know the value of using an international standard to supply their book data, for instance using ONIX. Nielsen Book2Look data and images can now be loaded via ONIX, making it easy to use for publishers everywhere and provide a consistent source of data to data aggregators such as Nielsen Book and others. Google analytics can be embedded on each page too, so that you can fully analyse your reader journey.

Easy-to-update

Once the links to the widgets and QR codes are set up, they retain the same link addresses, so we haven’t had to change where they are embedded or printed, as they show the latest version with all the new features, automatically and simply allow us to keep up with new developments while we retain full control of the material presented.

The results

We’ve added the widgets to the company and author websites, and have seen them shared on some social media sites. Although we’ve not had masses of widget views (in the 100s rather than the 1000s), our first widget, set up in 2014, continues to receive views. We have seen follow-throughs to the shop links of 12-20%.

We’ve been pleased with the Book2Look widgets and look for opportunities to use them, and to update them with new material and to exploit new features. We plan to continue using them for our future fiction books. We’re excited this leading edge tool is accessible to a small publisher and look forward to future developments.

Untitled

 

 

 

 

 

Click on the jacket image above to see this in action

bookmetrix logo

Martijn RoelandseMartijn Roelandse was a publishing editor at Bohn Stafleu van Loghum, a Dutch Springer subsidiary, and later for Springer. Since 2015 he has been working as Manager of Publishing Innovation to develop new projects. One of those is Bookmetrix, a platform developed by Springer and Altmetric that offers a comprehensive overview of the impact of a book.

1) What exactly is Bookmetrix?

Developed in partnership between Springer and Altmetric, Bookmetrix is the first platform of its kind to offer integrated traditional and non-traditional metrics for books and chapters. Designed to give authors, editors and readers easy access to this combined data all in one place for the first time, Bookmetrix helps to set a new standard for monitoring and reporting the activity surrounding a book post-publication. It’s picking up notice, too. It was announced as a finalist for the 2015 ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing and the 2016 Quantum Publishing Innovation Award.

2) What problem does it solve?

Up until recently, book authors and editors would be updated on an annual basis on the downloads of their ebook. As many books are not indexed in either Scopus or in Thomson Reuters Book Citation Index, authors knew very little about the impact and reach of their book. We think the story behind a book isn’t finished when it’s published; a book and chapters, like journal articles, are discussed both in the academic realm and in society. We therefore now offer book and chapter level metrics for all our 200,000+ books and 3,600,000+ chapters. For each one of them, if available, you can find citations, online mentions, Mendeley readers, downloads and reviews. If you are interested in the story behind Bookmetrix, do read this excellent blog post from Altmetric’s Jean Liu.

3) Who is your target market?

The scope of Bookmetrix is wider than existing initiatives in the market: it covers substantially more books and goes beyond pure citation data. Bookmetrix dovetails with Springer’s ambition to drive more industry-wide initiatives to support the work of authors and researchers.

4) What results do you hope to see over the next few years?

Ultimately we hope to solve two problems. First, recognition is needed for the work of authors of books and chapters, just like authors of articles. Especially in humanities and social sciences, publishing books is the modus operandi for communicating with peers, but they are often not included in research evaluations. Second, people should stop judging books by their covers. Bookmetrix helps readers identify the right book for them within a discipline, high-impact ones with many citations, very useful ones with many downloads, or ones that are highly discussed online with many mentions. The choice is theirs.

5) What will be next for Bookmetrix?

At The London Book Fair this year we launched a first pilot with another scholarly publisher, Brill, to offer Bookmetrix for their books. In addition, we will be adding new features and functionalities to Bookmetrix over the next few months, so stay tuned!

life as a freelancerJohn Pettigrew is CEO and Founder of Futureproofs, where he is trying to make editors’ lives better with software designed for the jobs they actually do. A recovering editor himself, John has been working in publishing since 1997, including stints on academic journals, educational textbooks, and print and digital materials of all kinds. Here we interviewed John on Futureproofs and what’s next in the pipeline.

1) What exactly is Futureproofs?

Futureproofs lets you proofread effectively on-screen. It provides simple markup based on the BSI (or Chicago) standard, effective collaboration and powerful project management with real-time data. Bottom line, it helps publishing teams to publish their books at the required quality, faster and more cheaply.

2) What problem does it solve?

Many of us still proofread on paper – it’s simple, reliable and well-understood. But it’s also slow, surprisingly expensive and not environmentally friendly. But the existing software isn’t really designed for proofreading, so it’s slow and clumsy, which translates to ‘more expensive’. Futureproofs is designed specifically for publishing, based on long experience of the industry.

3) Who is your target market?

Currently, we’re targeting illustrated-book publishers – education, trade non-fiction and children’s. But Futureproofs can work for anyone who’s creating books, magazines or large-scale documents. We have customers who publish mostly narrative text, and we’re also talking to several academic publishers.

4) What results do you hope to see over the next few years?

I set up Futureproofs to make editors’ lives better. So, I hope that we’ll help to build a confident editorial community that can do its job effectively and demonstrate its value to the wider publishing industry (traditional and self-publishers alike). And for Futureproofs to be the default choice for proofreading!

5) What will be next for Futureproofs?

We’re always releasing new features for Futureproofs (usually a couple of times a month). The next Big Thing, though, will be support for ebooks via the EPUB format (they’re a real pain to check at the moment), which is coming later this year, probably around the Frankfurt Book Fair in October.

Read more on the Futureproofs blog and website.

audio

Michel LafranceMichel Lafrance is the founder and managing director for The Owl Field, an audio entertainment company specializing in 3D audio storytelling. In addition to managing the startup, he is the content producer and sound designer. Here we interviewed him. 

 

1) What exactly is The Owl Field?

The Owl Field is about 3D Audio storytelling. We produce immersive audio dramas that place the listener as the story’s central character, and from a first person perspective, everything happens around the listener in a 3D audio soundscape. Characters, sound effects and music surround the listener just as in the real world. The listener wears a pair of headphones, closes their eyes, and is simply transported to their virtual world.

2) What problem does it solve?

Audiobooks have seen amazing growth over the past five years, but the future of entertainment is immersive media like virtual reality and 360video. Our audio dramas fill the current gap between traditional audiobooks and virtual reality, and are a way for publishers to keep pace with those future forms of entertainment. Filling this gap would help attract new listeners, would provide new content for existing fans, and would offer a virtual experience for people living with sight loss who are currently completely underserved in the visuals-based virtual reality industry.

audio 3D

3) Who is your target market?

Our storytelling format can be applied to any story genre so our target market is wide open. We currently have numerous productions for ages 13+, and also one for ages 3+ that we plan to turn into a series. The beauty of 3D audio is that it can be experienced on any standard pair of headphones. There’s no need to purchase expensive or clunky virtual reality headsets so it’s an affordable and accessible form of virtual reality for everyone.

4) What are your goals for the next few years?

We want to be a pioneer in 3D audio storytelling. The popularity of audio entertainment will continue to grow over the next few years and with it the demand for immersive experiences. Our goal is to work with publishers to meet that demand by giving authors and publishers an exciting new format for existing fans and by attracting new listeners to publishing audio entertainment.

5) After you initial success, what will be next for The Owl Field?

We’ve just released a new podcast for all things 3D audio and we’re currently pursuing funding for our next production. We’re thrilled to be working with an award-winning fantasy audio drama writer for it and are equally excited to be augmenting the experience by adding elements of interactivity and personalisation.

You can get in touch with The Owl Field via email, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

interactive books

Evan Jones is the founder of Stitch Media, an interactive media production services company focused on telling stories using new technology and timeless techniques. Evan is also the creator of Together Tales, a new platform which brings reading, games and real-life activities together. Here Stephanie Cox interviews him.

1) Tell us a little bit about your background and career

Early in my career I became obsessed with Alternate Reality Games. ARGs are a style of narrative that really couldn’t exist before the internet, because they rely on the audience as investigators who connect different types of media together to make a complete story. They’re also intensely interactive and the best ones consider the audience as collaborators – their theories and solutions inspire the creative team working behind the scenes.

I’ve had the good fortune to collaborate with incredibly talented people on projects across every genre. We’ve worked in comedy, drama, documentary, horror, science fiction, children’s, lifestyle – but always with an interactive point of view. Stitch Media is the company that you call when you want to push the boundaries. I’m always working hard to stay ahead of the curve on new technology but more importantly the media trends that are shifting around us.

2) Together Tales – what’s the premise?

Together Tales are Adventure Kits that combine physical books and artifacts with interactive challenges. Parents bring these stories to life as an insider working with the author to plant clues and create coincidences.

For kids aged 8-10 reading the adventures, it’s like the whole story surrounds you. You are a character in the books and your actions end up saving the day. We’ve had a lot of feedback that this product is perfect for ‘reluctant readers’ because it’s broken into short chapters that connect with activities both offline and online.

For parents, it’s like having a creative sidekick for those moments where you want to want to play along with your kids but don’t always have the time or energy to make it up. Adventure Kits give you all the tools you need and simple instructions via email to prompt you at the perfect moment. You’re playing alongside your kids with a cheat sheet from the author.

together tales

3) What made you, as a media and TV professional, look at the idea of interactive books? How did the idea and the concept of Together Tales come about?

We didn’t set out to make an interactive book. Our company never starts with the technology first. It’s that old adage “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Instead we started with a question: “How can recreate some of our fondest memories of childhood?”

We loved reading books, of course – books are imagination fireworks where you can do anything at all. We also loved simple games like scavenger hunts and puzzles. But the secret ingredient is the name of our product – it was those moments we spent together.

Together Tales is a platform to combine all of these things. We rely upon an ‘Insider’ who truly knows the reader. We use the shorthand of parents but it could easily be grandparents or that cool uncle or an amazing teacher. The point is that our adventures come to life in through others – they are the ones who personalise a letter online, print it out and tuck it under the child’s pillow because they received an automated email yesterday explaining that the Magician will be answering their dream questions tomorrow. It’s a system to make more of those memorable moments by connecting them together with a story.

4) What kind of success have you enjoyed so far?

Our first success was convincing a jury to give us the CMF Experimental Fund – it allowed us to build the technology and test the concept until we got it right. The one thing we needed after that was the money to pay for our first print run. We created four Adventure Kits in our first year and launched the concept on Kickstarter – that was really when Together Tales took off. We’ve shipped hundreds of kits out to families now and the response has been incredible. The five-star reviews on Amazon have really inspired us – parents talk about how excited their kids get about reading the stories and their adventures.

It’s also been a huge boost for us to be recognised by our industry. We were nominated for the BookTech prize in the UK this year and for the Canadian Screen Award for Best Original Interactive Project. These endorsements help a great deal in promoting sales.

5) Anything that has been particularly challenging?

Our biggest challenge is everyone’s biggest challenge – discoverability. Our target demographic is parents with 8-10 year old kids and I’m one of them. It’s a very busy and distracted group of customers and we don’t have a marketing budget to spend yet. We know that families love the product but we haven’t yet mastered the way we reach that audience.

6) Why do you think there’s a market for this kind of publishing?

Publishing is not going away. Yes it’s changing but all of the media industries shift when a new paradigm appears. We know this is a crowded market but we feel that Together Tales is something truly new and will strike a chord with the right type of customer.

Together Tales is also built to empower authors to write their own Adventure Kits. Our platform expands with every new book as we build a library of games and technology which are reused in subsequent stories. They’re also not tied to a particular platform. We’re not thinking about the issues of paper vs tablets because we use them all in the way they were intended. Media consumption habits for us aren’t an either/or proposition, they’re all potential for us.

7) Have you found that you have been able to reach out easily to children who may not be particularly enthusiastic about reading?

Together Tales is very accessible because the story is portioned out. The child never sees a huge book because the story is divided into chapters and interactive moments. The first chapter looks like a comic book, but once you’ve read it you’re hooked. The characters need your help and a game begins. It’s not hard to convince kids to play games but when the game is over you want to see how it affected the story. That’s when the second chapter magically appears (thanks parents!) and the cycle continues.

To read the full interview, head over to Stephanie’s blog: Words are my Craft.

 

 

Self-employed in publishing

Reader analytics are garnering huge attention at the moment and there are at least four major talks at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair discussing how and why publishers and authors can collect data on their readers. But with reader analytics taking the spotlight in publishing, the debate over the ethics of data harvesting and its uses has been brought to our doorstep.

Consensual data is happy data

The big issues around data harvesting are not just what information businesses and official organisations are collecting about us, it’s whether or not they’re doing it with our consent. For once, however, publishing is ahead of the curve on getting this one right.

Although big boys like Amazon remain the mysterious bastions of data collection they’ve always been, smaller companies specialising in reader analytics are proving to be honest, open and respectful about harvesting data. For example, Jellybooks use “reading campaigns” for as-yet unreleased books to provide information to publishers, in a similar way that a screen test would for a film studio. Jellybooks gathers data from readers who have volunteered to be monitored and received a free digital copy of the campaign book, which is clearly marked, so that the reader remembers they’re being observed.

What’s more, while Jellybooks have said that “though in principle [non-anonymised] data could be provided to the author or publisher” they do not give it. Despite some rumours, Jellybooks also does not gather data by measuring eye-movement, but by observing how the reader interacts with their app as they read. Jellybooks, and most reader analytics collectors, are more interested in the time of day consumers read, how long they read for, when they highlight or perform searches on text, and the operating system, device or browser being used. These are added to information the reader voluntarily provides, such as gender and age.

When working with companies like Jellybooks, publishers don’t need to feel compromised about using this data: it’s not an invasion, it’s a gift!

Data driven decisions

But why is data such hot property in the first place? Some have wondered – both in horror and hope – that reader analytics might effect the editorial process, but Jellybooks has said that this misunderstands how people read and the kind of data reader analytics can collect: “Readers judge a book as a whole based on storyline, language, characters, plot, etc. and not on individual chapters.” Though the data can be utilised in this way, knowing that “x” number of people dropped off at page 57 is not necessarily helpful to an author or a publisher.

Excitingly, what reader analytics can provide are evidence-based assessments of how a book is likely to perform in the market. Data on completion rates and recommendations gathered during the commissioning stage, for example, can help reduce the risk inherent in signing new books by indicating whether or not a book might be popular.

Later in the publishing process, analytics can also help marketing departments figure out how much budget to assign to their titles, what their audience looks like and how to find them – are they young or old, male or female? Do they binge-read on beach holidays, meaning you should get WHSmith Travel on board, or do they dip in on their on their commute to work, meaning you can grab them with a poster on the tube?

Best of all, this data is available via third-party companies like Jellybooks, meaning that although publishers have to pay fees for their data, they don’t need to make the huge investments in building platforms and software that was previously required. This information is more easily available to publishers than ever before.

Scratching the surface

Reader analytics still clearly has its limits and they may never become a magic wand for book sales, but the truth is that the possibilities for using this data are only just starting to be explored. Moreover, the software for collecting this data are still in its – albeit impressive – infancy. Looking ahead there is talk of Jellybooks developing some kind of “FitBit for books,” which will take retail copies of books into account as well as the pre-sales titles currently available. Others claim that one day soon we will be able to use data to predict the next big bestseller.

There can be no arguing that data harvesting is here to stay. The only, opportunity-filled question remains: how else are we going to use it?

 

ralph-moellersSmall independent publishers and self-published authors need to maximize the impact of their books and ensure they are easily found on the Internet. Ralph Möllers, the founder of a children’s publisher based in German decided to develop his own book widget, Book2Look, that would enable book buyers, both trade and consumer, to look inside the book before they purchase. The Internet makes content readily available for free. Ralph felt by offering easily digestible free content as a hook would encourage readers to want to read on and most importantly to click ‘buy’. Making the point of discovery the point of purchase.

As a starting point before any book campaign, publishers should think about whom their current readers are and what is happening in the marketplace. Here are some of Ralph Möllers’ latest observations, together with how this led to the development and continuing enhancement of the Book2Look widget.

Your Readers are web savvy

According to BBC research, young people now spend an average of three hours online a day. This seems quite a conservative estimate really, and professionals must spend more than double this amount. Tech savvy millenials are wise to advertising and many use ad blockers to protect them from the ‘lure’ of online shopping ads, which are becoming increasingly sophisticated. According to eMarketer, about a quarter of all U.S. internet users, nearly 70 million people will use technology to block online ads in 2016. Publishers therefore need to develop respectful ways of promoting to these readers, as a result of this.  Nielsen Book2Look is therefore an ideal option that lets you share sample content, video, audio clips and other promotional material via the internet on social media sites, on your own site, author site or with retailers, bloggers and reviewers.  Each version can be tailored to meet your audience needs.

Shelf space is decreasing

Despite books such as the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, which achieve huge sales, shelf space for the average book in traditional book stores has been decreasing and this makes discoverability of new books extremely difficult for publishers. Author James Patterson launched an admirable initiative to help indie bookshops survive and thrive – however, in the UK in 2014, almost twice as many bookshops closed down as new ones opened. Between 2009 and 2016*, the number of independent booksellers in the UK and Ireland, has fallen by 25%. With fewer options to browse books in-stores, publishers need to replicate the ability to browse books online, and that’s where Nielsen Book2Look can help you reach a wider audience for your books.

The social media frenzy continues

Trends in Social Media usage are changing. Many Facebook users have migrated to Instagram or Twitter away from parental observation. Groups of friends prefer to communicate via closed groups on Path or What’s App. Professional networks such as Yammer give work colleagues a valid reason to chat online. Nothing remains constant but the one thing all forms of social media have in common is that they give their users the opportunity to share. Nielsen Book2Look lets your readers share sample content. It gives them a valid reason to communicate on their preferred social channels, and you can add a link to your preferred retailer, ensuring that you achieve sales.

Nielsen Book2Look is a tool that encourages readers to share and spread the word about the books they like. A tool that supports your local retailer by offering customised sample content. And lastly but not least, it’s a tool that gives you great analytical data about the performance of your book content that can be connected to your existing Google analytics account.

Conclusion

Today Nielsen Book2Look is helping thousands of publishers of all sizes worldwide to promote and sell their books. Nielsen Book2Look has achieved millions of book views, last year the figure was 20m, and we expect that to increase this year.  Ralph Möllers says: “As a developer and as a publisher I am really proud of this contribution to our industry and I am delighted that so many publishers around the world can take advantage of this remarkable book widget. Even better news is that Nielsen Book has launched its new ISBN Store which enables publishers not only to purchase their ISBNs online but the Book2Look widget too – what could be simpler than that?”

*2016 is seeing a number of new independent bookshops starting up, which might lead to a resurgence of high street retailing, but this is still a hugely competitive market with customers being offered a huge of point of purchase.

book2look

 

book discovery

iAuthor, the book discovery platform, launches LitSampler 2.0 today. Here iAuthor’s founder, Adam Kolczynski, tells us more.

What is LitSampler 2.0?

LitSampler 2.0 is iAuthor’s book sampling tool. An industry-first, it allows authors and publishers to upload an enticing excerpt of their book, controlled from their iAuthor dashboard. Readers can try before they buy, decreasing their inbuilt risk aversion to a new book by an unknown author.

Wendy Corsi Staub, a New York Times bestseller with more than 4 million book sales worldwide, has a created a sample here: https://www.iauthor.uk.com/chapter/the-perfect-stranger:5758

For a more image-centric sample, dive into https://www.iauthor.uk.com/chapter/the-secret-life-of-scones:8660

How is LitSampler 2.0 unique?

LitSampler 2.0 brings the point of book discovery nearer the point of purchase. For authors? An ultra-intuitive typographical tool to showcase their books. For readers? An immersive e-reader. We asked ourselves what the ideal sampling tool should do. It should be responsive, allowing effortless sampling on all screen-sizes. It should be formattable, giving authors and publishers the power to lay out their books exactly as they wish, complete with indents, drop-caps, section breaks, images, tables and more. It should be shareable, so readers can harness their global network to maximise author discoverability. It should be embeddable, so book samples can travel to any site or blog with just one line of HTML. It should be browser-centric, so the sampling process won’t require downloading software or files. We believe that iAuthor’s reimagined sampling tool covers all of the above, and elegantly completes the “Browse-Sample-Buy” discovery funnel.

From a UX/UI perspective, we felt that many existing book samplers were decidedly awkward. An over-reliance on skeuomorphic elements rooted the design in the pre-iPad era, page navigation was unintuitive, and reader-centric features such as in-line search, bookmarking and contrast control weren’t optimised for mobile. At iAuthor, we believe that design should be invisible to the user. Book excerpts should take centre-stage, not toolbars, bloated menus or banner adverts. Ideally: all signal, no noise. By minimising visual clutter, LitSampler 2.0 not only increases reader dwell-time, but enhances the quality of that engagement.

iauthorFeatured in The Bookseller, Digital Book World and GalleyCat, Adam Kolczynski is best known for iAuthor, the London-based startup. In tackling the perennial problem of book discoverability, Kolczynski has straddled both ends of the publishing spectrum: first as an author, then as a publisher with Polybius Books.

tekstum

LaurenRomeoPhotoLauren Romeo is the Lead Scientist at Tekstum Solutions. Here we interviewed her on their sentiment and emotion analysis technology.

1) What exactly is Tekstum?

Tekstum is an engine that identifies, measures and analyses the feelings of readers. Our algorithm uses artificial intelligence and big data to achieve better editorial and marketing decisions.

In short: Our system synthesizes the overwhelming amount of qualitative information available to optimize the success ratio of publishers.

2) What problem does it solve?

Every year the number of new book titles in the market grows exponentially, generating large amounts of data at fast rates. Yet, much of the analysis currently being conducted is quantitative (i.e. the total number of “likes” of a book) rather than qualitative (i.e. why a person “likes” or “dislikes” that book).

The Tekstum engine uses natural language processing techniques to find patterns in qualitative data comprised of the opinions and feelings of actual readers in order to draw conclusions regarding the sentiment and emotions of how they experience a book.

3) Who is your target market?

Our current targets are publishers and retailers. Yet, the main idea behind Tekstum technology is that it is flexible; so it can also be adapted for any user, including libraries and curious readers.

4) What results do you hope to see over the next few years?

One exciting feature that we are currently developing is a novel recommendation system based on the emotions and sentiment that real readers are expressing. Over the next few years, our goal is to become the reference for emotion and sentiment-based book recommendation systems, as well as to continue expanding our engine to encompass more and more languages.

5) What will be next for Tekstum?

Currently, we are completing the testing phase of our engine for the English language, which we are looking forward to release this summer. It will open doors to new and exciting markets for us. After the release of the English version, we also plan to expand in order to cover more languages; French and German are the next two on deck. So follow us on twitter to keep an eye out for updates regarding their development.

Lauren Romeo is pioneering the Natural Language Processing research and development of the Tekstum engine. A PhD in Computational Linguistics, she has been getting her hands dirty with textual data and algorithms for years so that publishers can sleep easier at night.  Learn even more about her on LinkedIn

virtual reality

David Ingham, Director of Digital Media at Cognizant, and Phil Harper, Director at Alchemy VR before recently founding IMRGE, took to the stage at the Quantum conference today to discuss recent developments in virtual reality (VR) and what this means for publishers. Here are our top 10 takeaway points.

1) There are two ways in which virtual reality is viewed in business: I’m not convinced and I might not be convinced, but I’m not going to be left out and I need to invest in it.

2) VR poses the following challenges: what content should be used, on which platform(s), and on which device(s).

3) There’s a huge consumer demand for VR. Rather than a top down approach like 3D TV, grassroots demand from audiences has driven VR development. Bigger companies are playing catch-up with the kickstarters.

4) Users are often touched by VR. The user’s reaction to characters can be much more intense, opening up more opportunities.

5) There are many potential revenue streams for VR. For the home market, many are looking to the app model as the infrastructure already exists and consumers are used to it.

6) Partner with other companies. You’ll have their data and expertise, and will be able to translate your content into new and exciting formats.

7) There are no experts with VR when it comes to VR. With the write creativity and content, there’s plenty of opportunity for innovation.

8) Mobile VR is most likely to be the first dominant device for VR. All that’s needed is a headset – phones already have adequate processing power and screen resolution.

9) For complete interaction, i.e. to pick things up, then you’d need a tethered device. Your subconscious works like it’s real, despite your conscious telling you it’s not. The power this offers and the direction you go with it is the creative challenge.

10) Knowledge retention is a key issue in educational publishing: people retain 10% of the information they read, 20% of that that they hear but 90% when they do. VR may be the solution to this. What you read/listen to in a classroom could then immediately be put it into practice with VR.

Check out altspace if you need a bit more convincing.

growth tech

This is a guest post by Matt Goolding. Matt is Head of Digital Marketing at Ribbonfish, a London-based tech company that builds enterprise solutions for the publishing and media industries. Here he reveals how publishers can match business growth with the right tech.

If a publishing house is doing well, growth will be on the cards. Expansion is a great thing, especially in such a competitive market; one which is adapting to huge pressures over the past decade or so. Whilst some publishers are struggling, many are exploiting gaps opened by the digital revolution and a supposed ‘risk-averse’ approach by the biggies. However, with growth and success comes change, and it’s important to manage this sensibly.

It’s easy to treat technology as an afterthought. Great ideas, a dedicated team, and genuine integrity can take a business a long way. It’s a dreaded bore and chore, but at some point a publisher may need systems and processes in place. Whether it’s hardware or software, this can be a tricky affair. Tricky in terms of budget, requirements and long-term planning.

Growth and consolidation problems

If growth is indeed forecast, this could have a number of implications. Increased order numbers will require more people-power, and perhaps different teams working on multiple elements of the same project. A larger workforce will require devices upon which to work. These devices will need to be financed and supported.

Furthermore, an increase in customers inevitably means more questions, so customer services may require expansion. Good service relies on accurate information. If the internal systems of a business cannot handle the volume of data (previous queries, account history, caller name, etc.) then the customer won’t be satisfied. Unsatisfied customers equal a poor reputation, which results in stunted growth in the long-run.

Effective internal tech is equally important for sales and marketing, order processing, rights, permissions, and production. There’s huge opportunity to manage these elements better with tools that take the graft out of the publishing process, reduce human error, and increase efficiency.

However, it would be foolish to suggest that business is booming for all publishers. The fact is, many are having a tough time. In this case, shrinkage may be required. Nothing is a bigger kick in the teeth than unmanageable IT costs at this time. Recently, we’ve seen mergers and acquisitions like never before, which has also involved huge system integrations. If downsizing is required, it helps to have technology that’ll move with you.

The solution

Fortunately, technology vendors have recognised the need for flexible and scalable tools in the modern world. Companies in all kinds of industries want to remain agile, without the need for clunky old-school business IT and a dedicated support team sat in the basement. The cloud has been revolutionary in this sense, and has enabled vendors to create subscription or user-based business technology that’s affordable. The key tip here is to not enter into an agreement that could be dangerous in the future, whether it’s for growth or a downsize.

The crux of the matter is that technology impacts real life. As humans, we’ve always struggled to perceive this, especially as the curve has steepened. A business is undoubtedly powered by ideas, but the practical stuff also needs the right technology. Sustainable growth is helped by scalable internal technology, and these days there’s no reason to be held back.

Follow Ribbonfish on Twitter.

Get the latest news and event info straight to your inbox

Account


+44 203 040 2298

6 Mitre Passage, Digital Greenwich - 10th Floor, Greenwich Peninsula, SE10 0ER

© 2018 BookMachine We love your books