Hachette Ireland has promoted commissioning editor Ciara Doorley to the position of editorial director, effective immediately.
Nick Atkinson has an interesting post over on FutureBook this morning. In it he asks three questions he feels people aren’t asking about ebooks. The ones he hits on are:
EBooks aren’t actually that exciting, so why are people buying them?
Why am I rubbish at selling books online?
Where the heck is my audience? They used to shop at Borders.
he’s got a refreshing perspective on some of those:
So why are we struggling so much to make a digital book look and feel like a book? I remember the overwhelming sense of disappointment, anti-climax and resignation that I felt when I first looked at an eBook, way back when, on the Iliad – a device thankfully confined to myth and legend (it had a STYLUS for god’s sake). Even now, working with a conversion supplier I’m proud to partner with, who does a good job of stretching the ePub and Kindle formats, whenever we get our eBooks back, we still often gaze misty-eyed at the print edition and wonder where the design went and that’s just on text-based product. If you are honest, you’ve felt the same way. We’ve had moments where we’ve tried to shoehorn full-colour books into reflowable epubs to see what would happen, got the files back and laughed out loud at ourselves for even bothering.
Not that he’ll be put out, but I disagree with the first half of his post pretty strongly in that I actually like ebooks as they are, simple text files. I don’t want enhancements.
There’s a peculiar, and seemingly pervasive, fear among publishers that the written word just isn’t compelling enough for their readers (one well addressed by James Bridle here) in the digital age. It’s something I just don’t understand. Afterall text is fine in print, why not in digital form?
The rest of it though, I’m mostly on board with and it speaks to the quick presentation on Niches & Communities I gave to publishers during the Pecha Kucha session at TOC Frankfurt in 2009.
Not, I stress, that I think ebooks are the end of all things book related as I myself wrote for Publishing Perspective some time ago:
THE critical concern should be developing an expertise in how to sell content in many different forms and at many different prices to different audiences. Publishers should be platform agnostic, selling wherever readers are willing to buy and not focusing if it is an e-book, an app, online access, segments, chapters, quotes, mash-ups, readings, conferences, or anything else (a point made Friday on Publishing Perspectives by Clive Rich).
Rather than expend their energy focusing on one format that may be fleeting, publishers need to focus on two long-term objectives: audience development and content curation. Neither of these are specific to digital activities, meaning that they will only serve to bolster the print side of the business as well, whether it declines rapidly or gradually.
Still, a good post that will no doubt generate discussion!
I’m constantly amazed at how easy it is for Apple to generate publicity, rumour and spin for its forthcoming product and service launches. On occasion, I’ve been as guilty as everyone else when it comes to this.
The one rolling in tomorrow has generated considerable coverage and is variously supposed to involve new authoring tools for ebooks, a revolution in the text-book industry or new distribution routes for self publishers.
Of course that is all fine except that there are some pretty good authoring tools for ebooks, not to mention many fine companies supplying such services. There are already several companies pursing the text-book market with a view towards radical change. Apple’s ebook distribution platform is frankly lacking (how many companies could get away with providing direct access to their self-publishing services ONLY to those who have a MAC*) so I hope personally that they decide to improve that side of their operation. Looking at their marketing image and text, I reckon I’ll be disappointed.
It is possible that Apple will launch something revolutionary tomorrow but I doubt it. I can’t help but feel though that Apple seems to be seen as a white knight by commentators inside and outside of the book publishing industry.
This is almost completely unlike Amazon, a company that has TRULY revolutionized the book publishing industry (or rather rode the wave of the changes revolutionizing the book publishing industry like no-one else), but is becoming the favourite target for attacks.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Amazon apologist (In fact I pointed to their long game fairly early on) I just think we need to keep our heads and a fairly hefty dollop of skepticism in hand when we discuss Apple. It has an impressive track record of being right, but its victories are Apple’s and rarely (except as a handy by-product) anyone else’s.
Keep that in mind tomorrow,
* Yes, I know you can use an aggregator, but please, why is this a restriction?
Easily the smartest piece I’ve read so far this year. What’s more I think it’s so good it’ll hold that title until the end of the year too. This just a flavour:
I don’t believe that B&N has fully tuned into the economics of working in a network environment. For all the talk of the democratization of the Internet and the Long Tail, network economies tend to be winner-takes-all. Amazon is fast approaching a position where it becomes a virtual monopoly like other tech giants before it — Microsoft with Windows and Office, Facebook with social networking, Google for Web search, and Apple (through iTunes) for music consumption. All of these monopolies reach a plateau at some point, where other products and services begin to restructure the paradigm (e.g., the role of Cloud computing and mobile telephony in eroding Windows’ base), but while the party lasts, it is one heck of a profitable ride. It is far more urgent for B&N to prevent Amazon from reaching that point than it is for B&N to strive to achieve that point itself. B&N should be hell-bent on destroying the e-book paradigm, not on trying to control it.