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5 Questions for Tim Oliver of Macmillan Education [INTERVIEW]

Tim OliverAhead of Oxford’s next BookMachine event on Thursday 27 June, guest speaker Tim Oliver has kindly answered some questions about all things digital!

Tim is Head of the Digital Publishing Unit for Macmillan Education. Over 10 years’ experience in digital project management, extensive involvement with learning management systems and previous roles in trade, academic, NGO publishing and startups in the first dotcom era have imbued him with a passion for traditional, new and emerging publishing media.

Eventbrite - BookMachine Oxford with Tim Oliver, Macmillan Education

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Blackfriars First Digital Literary Imprint in the UK

Blackfriars Books from Little, Brown UKI do love a good first. The first t-shirt day of the summer; the first beer on a night out; the first time you wear a new hoodie. Last week saw the announcement of the first digital-only literary list in the UK, Blackfriars from Little, Brown. The list promises to curate 9 to 12 titles a year from new or established authors, and is launching in June. Now there’s a first to get out of bed for.

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Could Bookish Be The Next Big Online Retailer?

Last week saw the launch of Bookish in the US – a new, and frankly bloody stunning book discovery/online retailer (or as I call them, a ‘social retailer’). They’ve got a brilliant pitch, a stunning site, and features the rest of us have been discussing for a while that we thought may never come to fruition. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. The golden egg, the holy grail, of online book discovery. An algorithm that recommends you books. Not ‘readers also bought’. Not ‘you might also like’. Something that says ‘what’s a book you have read and loved lately?’ and then picks you a bunch more based on what I can only assume is metadata more detailed than a fractal zoom on a mandelbrot set.

I hope you all brought spare underwear.

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5 Questions for Michael Bhaskar [INTERVIEW]

michaelMichael Bhaskar is Digital Publishing Director at Profile Books. He has worked at Pan Macmillan, a literary agency and an economics research firm and is author of a forthcoming book about publishing. He can be found on Twitter as @ajaxlogos. He’s one of our top speakers at BookMachine Unplugged, so we thought we’d find out a little bit more:

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5 Questions for Sheila Bounford [INTERVIEW]

shielaSheila Bounford founded Off the Page Ideas in 2012 and works with a variety traditional print publishing and digital publishing & services businesses as they embrace the challenges of rapidly changing market forces. She blogs about books, ideas and change at www.otpi.co.uk. She’s one of our top speakers at BookMachine Unplugged, so we thought we’d find out a little bit more…

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4 Questions for Robert Weisser, Editorial & Production Manager in NYC [INTERVIEW]

Robert Weisser

Robert Weisser has been in the publishing business since 1976. He’s witnessed huge changes in the industry, from the first DTP computers to where we are today. He’s also based in New York – so we caught up with him before the first NYC BookMachine event on 12/12/12.

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5 questions for Caroline Moore on mobile language learning [INTERVIEW]

Increasingly, Publishers and content creators are getting their material onto mobile devices. It makes perfect sense to be doing so, putting learning tools directly into the hands of learners, but it’s not as easy as just creating a great product. I met up with Caroline Moore, Director and Co-Founder of LearnAhead to find out more about mobile language learning and how their company is on a mission to get better language acquisition apps into the market.

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Lower Ebook Prices Does Not Equal More Readers

Last week saw the declaration by Amazon that the dissolution of agency pricing in the US was a “big win for customer” and that they look forward to lowering prices on more ebooks in the future. It’s slightly surreal for me to read that lower ebook prices is something anyone would ‘look forward’ to, given how much effort publishers are making (not across the board, but certainly in some places) to ensure the price of ebooks stays at a level that encourages a sense of worth for the format. Testament to Amazon’s place in the market, however, the news was not received badly.

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(Another) Spotify For Books

Here’s how to alienate a large portion of possible content sources in one go: compare your product to their greatest fear. Perhaps Oyster didn’t call themselves the ‘Spotify for books’ in their pitch to publishers – I wasn’t at Frankfurt – but it’s certainly how they’ve been branded in the aftermath. And it doesn’t, as far as I can see, do them any favours.

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9 Questions for Eric Huang, Penguin Books [INTERVIEW]

Eric HuangA few weeks ago Eric Huang kindly answered some questions about his role at Penguin and how they are working and collaborating with new companies to strengthen their offer as a publisher.

There is no doubt that Penguin is going through an interesting transition, attempting to re-define and break the mold, while bringing content to their audiences in new ways and with new people…

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Harper Voyager looking for un-agented submissions

HarperCollins’ sci-fi, horror and otherwise otherworldly imprint Harper Voyager has announced that, for the first time in over a decade, it will be accepting un-agented submissions from authors, with a view to building a backlog it can then publish as monthly e-books. For the fortnight spanning 1 October to 14 October, new writers can head to http://www.harpervoyagersubmissions.com/ and, having filled out the accompanying form and checked that they have complied with the publisher’s guidelines, submit their long-brewing masterpiece about the grim dystopian future where the hair cuts you!, or whatever.

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Kobos and Kindles: New Additions and Winning Combinations

Last week saw the release of a new Kobo range, and (not to be outdone) the yearly release of the new Kindle line. Despite Bezos’ insistence that he doesn’t need his customers on the ‘upgrade treadmill’, Amazon released an upgrade to pretty much every single one of their devices, including two new Kindle Fire tablets and the predicted backlit eInk reader. So, as readers, what are we looking at for Christmas this year?

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Bring Your Own Technology

We keep hearing that America is a few years ahead of us in terms of technology. If this is the case then UK Publishers, Schools and Educators take note.

A recent report from the The Consortium for School Networking in America has highlighted that schools should be allowing their students to bring their own technology to the classroom, rather than just for use at break times. Whilst this is economically viable for schools it does pose a few problems, not only for the parents who will need to be buying this technology for their kids, but for educational Publishers. It essentially means that every title will need to work seamlessly across all devices. This is a big headache for educational publishers, who are creating digital components for their courses.

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Your Innovation Ain’t All That

Robot from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxyor The Future of Storytelling Might Not Be So Fancy

Two weeks ago, a friend of mine, knowing my penchant for all things techy and mental, sent me links to two websites, both of which contain experimental digital fiction.  One, a short fiction website called Dreaming Methods, uses clever coding to create an app-like experience in your browser. The second, Nawlz, is a more conventional interactive comic where the frames move and change depending on user interaction, thus giving the reader the illusion of control (it’s actually rather good).

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The Odd Couple: Bundling Print and Digital Books

Bundling Print and Digital Books = The odd coupleLast week, after my observation that Waterstones is not in a better position to offer bundling now than it was last year, I had a brief debate on Twitter about pros and cons of bundling print and digital during which someone (oh so rightly) asked the question: ‘do customers even want an eBook version of the printed novel they just bought?’ This led to a couple of posts, and Sam Missingham brought out some numbers over on the Futurebook blog from a survey done with 4,000 customers 9 months ago. Here’s a summary:

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