Why Storia Is Important

You may have read this piece (or one of the several pieces on the topic) yesterday or this morning:

Storia is in beta now and available for Windows PC through the website; an iPad version is coming later this month. The app itself is free and comes with five free e-books. A store contains over 1,000 other children’s e-books—many available in digital format for the first time—that can be sorted by grade level, reading level, age and character/series.

When the app officially launches in the fall, it will contain over 2,000 titles, reports the AP, “that can be bought directly from the publisher or from retailers.” But the Storia website also says, “Since Storia eBooks come with special features to enhance your child’s reading experience, Storia eBooks can only be read on the Storia eReading app.” I’m clarifying this with Scholastic—if these books are essentially apps that won’t be sold through e-bookstores like Kindle and Nook, that is certainly noteworthy.

via In Major Digitization Effort, Scholastic Launches E-Reading App For Kids | paidContent.

It is  a pretty interesting move and one that I am not surprised by. The shift by Apple some time go makes this kind of move very attractive to publishers of large lists, as I wrote some time ago Apple has created an opportunity in the App space for publishers:

Apple’s more recent decision to enforce tough rules on in-App sales of content has been less popular. It has forced Amazon, Google, B&N and Kobo among others in publishing and other creative industries, to change their Apps to disable links to their ebook or content stores. Further it made it impossible for an ebook retailer to sell an ebook through the Apple in-App purchase system without giving 30% to Apple. Nasty eh?

The opportunity this created and that everyone missed , even me (till this weekend when it dawned on me), is for publishers to go direct to consumers and launch their own apps selling ebooks to readers.

Think about it, ebook retailers cannot make money from selling ebooks via Apple’s in-App sales because their margins simply won’t stretch that far. In the case of Agency titles they would be losing money, even on self-published works they might be losing money. However, a publisher, selling direct through their own app, or even a branded app in partnership with a number of other publishers in a given genre, could easily afford the 30% charge and even an administration charge too so long as it was kept low.

Apple has shifted the economics of the App-economy to disintermediate the distributors and empower the content producer. Sure, in doing so they have gained power and revenue potential for themselves, but they have created an opportunity for a savvy publisher who has a brand that readers identify with.

I would expect to see more of these from larger publishers as well as specialist ones (Witness for instance Amber Books’ Military History app). They make sense and they will hopefully sell books.

The question is whether they lead to the building of relationships with readers, a crucial gap in what iOS offers publishers. That lack of customer data was reportedly one reason why the FT eschews the app store for their own HTML based apps and subscription options.

There are many angles to cover and such apps can only form part of an overall strategy but I think Storia suggests large publishers are looking for opportunities and acting when they seem them!

Eoin

The Opportunity Apple Just Created For Publishers

Apple did book big book publishers a favour some time ago when, by giving the big six leverage over Amazon (with the launch of their new ebook platform iBooks), they enabled those large publishers to enforce Agency pricing for ebooks.

That gave the big six the power to set prices and extract a higher share of the revenue from their sales then had been the case for print books. It was a major moment in the development of the ebook market and one that has received a lot of attention and, at least from within the industry, a lot of praise.

Apple’s more recent decision to enforce tough rules on in-App sales of content has been less popular. It has forced Amazon, Google, B&N and Kobo among others in publishing and other creative industries, to change their Apps to disable links to their ebook or content stores. Further it made it impossible for an ebook retailer to sell an ebook through the Apple in-App purchase system without giving 30% to Apple. Nasty eh?

The opportunity this created and that everyone missed , even me (till this weekend when it dawned on me), is for publishers to go direct to consumers and launch their own apps selling ebooks to readers.

Think about it, ebook retailers cannot make money from selling ebooks via Apple’s in-App sales because their margins simply won’t stretch that far. In the case of Agency titles they would be losing money, even on self-published works they might be losing money. However, a publisher, selling direct through their own app, or even a branded app in partnership with a number of other publishers in a given genre, could easily afford the 30% charge and even an administration charge too so long as it was kept low.

Apple has shifted the economics of the App-economy to disintermediate the distributors and empower the content producer. Sure, in doing so they have gained power and revenue potential for themselves, but they have created an opportunity for a savvy publisher who has a brand that readers identify with.

It’s interesting that no-one has written about this yet. I suspect that might be because some of them are working on just that kind of app …

Fine evening here,
Eoin

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Go Read This | What’s a book? It’s whatever you want it to be — Tech News and Analysis

In case you missed it, stop thinking book or ebook and think, content and the many ways to sell it:

This kind of “format shifting,” in which a newspaper or magazine takes content that has already been published and reformats it for the Kindle or some other device, makes a lot of sense. That content can theoretically reach readers who might never have picked up the newspaper or magazine, or who missed it when it was first printed, or who want to read it in book form while sitting on their couch or at the beach rather than on a computer. And if the cost is low enough, they will be willing to pay for that convenience.

via What’s a book? It’s whatever you want it to be — Tech News and Analysis.

Making Things Happen: The Irish Story’s Apps

It’s been an incredibly busy few months for me in lots of ways. But I’ve also managed to get a few things shipped as Seth Godin might put it. So I thought I’d write a few posts about them.

One of the things I’ve managed to get done is submitting all five of The Irish Story‘s first set of ebooks into the iTunes App store. Some of them (Rebellion, Famine and Easter Rising) are already live and available. The final two (Civil War and Independence) will go live soon.

Since I finished at Mercier Press and decided to create The Irish Story, Apps and ebooks were always my focus, the ebooks were the easier part to create, the Apps took a little longer so I’m very glad we are there with them now.

It has been a great experience, which I mostly put down to the talent and commitment of our wonderful co-publisher, Mike Hyman at Collca. I first came across Collca in late October when I found the wonderful History in An Hour Series, which I discovered Collca co-published.

That find sparked an e-mail, a phone call and a contract agreement within a fortnight and now a five app publishing schedule in the space of six weeks. Things can truly move rapidly in the digital publishing space can’t they?

I’ve written before that I don’t believe that Apps are the future and that ebooks are a distraction. Oddly enough I don’t see the fact that I publish ebooks and apps as a contradiction of those writings. Rather I believe a publisher should be ensuring that all their material gets out on the market in as many ways as possible.

So rather than one edition or one format, books should appear online, as ebooks, apps, printed editions or whatever else they can reasonable be packaged as. Brian O’Leary who writes cogently and well about issues in publishing calls this agile content widely deployed.

I like to think that The Irish Story Apps are just one example of that!

Some App Love: Osprey’s Military History Quiz

I downloaded the free version of Osprey’s The Military History Quiz App last week and I just wanted to give it a quick word of praise*.

Simply put, it’s excellent. It combines some excellent design with great questions and a very clever in-App purchase set of options.

First the design which is smooth and consistent and looks good throughout the app. It has a sufficiently martial theme to keep the military-history nerd in me happy.

The questions are tough enough, even in the free section, to challenge both the novice and the knowledgeable history buff. As they progress though they sure do get harder!

And it’s that progression that makes the in-App buying options so smart. For only €0.79 you can upgrade the levels to reach 1 Star General status. After that it’s €2.39 a level OR you can choose to pay €5.99 for every level in one go (the levels go to 4 Star General) including the first one.

I have to admit, the App punctured many of my illusions about my knowledge base when it comes to military history, but I guess that’s a small downside when you learn so much along the way!

It’s a fine piece of work, it works smoothly and I hope it generates huge sales for Osprey who have a real can-do, will-do, try-anything spirit that’s hard not to admire in the modern publishing environment.

I’m sure they are working on the Sci-Fi & Fantasy version of the quiz too (Osprey also owns Angry Robot, a relatively new Sci-Fi & Fantasy imprint).

Eoin

*It’s probably fair to note that I know one or two of the folks that work at Osprey well enough to have a chat at the odd Book Fair or over Twitter, but I’ve never worked for the company. I’ve written about them before a few times though.