ebook

Nearly Three Years Old, Still True!

Quite a bit in this article could do with revision, but the  central point remains completely valid:

But the industry, despite notable and impressive exceptions, is still avoiding the inevitable accommodation and embrace of the Internet AS THE PLATFORM. As a body, we are ignoring the implications of digital change and seeking short and medium-term patches at the expense of long-term success.

via E-books are a Cul-de-sac: Why Publishing Needs to Rethink Its Digital Strategy | Publishing Perspectives.

Go Read This | Publishing in verticals | The Bookseller

Great piece by Rebecca Smart in The Bookseller on niche:

The migration to online purchasing of print books, and then to e-books, means that the buying of books is now about processes of search and recommendation, rather than browse and display, and this leads to a focus on specific interest areas and trusted authorities. If you publish for a wide range of interests, promotion of each individual book is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive.

via Publishing in verticals | The Bookseller.

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.

Go Read This | Ebooks Don’t Cannibalize Print, People Do « Black Plastic Glasses

I disagree with some of this, in fact with a lot of it, though it does seem that when Evan describes the mechanics of those who have moved to digital reading, he is on the money!

While I see the logic behind this understanding – I posit a slightly more nuanced definition of what is happening: Ebooks aren’t cannibalizing print books — consumers with ebook reading devices are, as a rule, no longer buying print books. Subtle? Yes, but from a commercial publishing point of view this is a crucial difference between seeing a direct correlation between ebooks and print books and understanding what happens to a customer when they make the switch to reading devices.

via Ebooks Don’t Cannibalize Print, People Do « Black Plastic Glasses.

Go Read This |The Best Things in Books Aren’t Free | Bait ‘n’ Beer

Don’s not wrong here, which is why I expect the majors will dominate those spaces where enhanced ebooks see success and lose out in the space where smaller players and self publishers can actually play the game.

And that means one of two things: (1) Either you need a sure-fire blockbuster title with a built in audience or (2) you need to be able to charge a pretty high price to make the P&L have a chance of working. I know…freaking bean-counters always in the way of doing cool things. So, yes, education can work (scale will deliver enough units), technical, children’s and some DIY can work (the enhancements add enough demonstrable value to carry a premium price), but fiction and most trade non-fiction? Without a brand (I’m thinking Star Wars and things of that ilk), it’s tough for me to see how the unit sales numbers will work, even if the costs of creating and producing the title decline, as they likely will. And I’m not one to believe that readers will consistently pay premiums for enhanced content that’s in the ‘nice to have’ but not ‘must have’ category.

via The Best Things in Books Aren’t Free | Bait ‘n’ Beer.

Google’s ebook program

Eoin Purcell

Google to launch an ebook service in late 2009
Or Motoko Rich writing in the so the NYT’s would have us believe that Google are:

now committed the company to going live with the project by the end of 2009. In a presentation at BookExpo, Tom Turvey, director of strategic partnerships at Google, added the phrase: “This time we mean it.”

The Bookseller has a brief piece on this story here. The Kindle 2 Review blog has some thoughts on this, basically saying that letting book publishers set prices (as Google seem to be proposing) is a bad call.

My thinking on this is that letting publishers set the price is a goo way to steal a march back from Kindle and Amazon. For one thing it will give them a greater sense of control and allow them to do the experimenting with price, a very valuable tool considering how tight Amazon is being with info and data about Kindle sales. Michael Cairns has a short but chilling post on this.

Secondly if one platform allows pricing and another doesn’t and the publishers can make sales through the Google platform anyway, then the Kindle might well wither and die as publishers pull their titles. last but not least, if Google look to retain a lower percentage of revenue (Say 30-40%) than Amazon currently do, the prices may well shift lower naturally as publishers seek to attract sales.

Right now I can only think of this as a positive move for the industry, the more competition to provide a solid e-book platform the better.

Other benefits
As a reader there are some really attractive features to Google as a platform that I don’t think have been considered. If as the NYT make clear the service will be cross device:

Mr. Turvey said Google’s program would allow consumers to read books on any device with Internet access, including mobile phones, rather than being limited to dedicated reading devices like the Amazon Kindle. “We don’t believe that having a silo or a proprietary system is the way that e-books will go,” he said.

Then the offering would seem to be going hand in hand with the rather useful discovery tools that Google offers for books through Google Books already.

I wonder is there room for a link to the Google Reader which I use for my RSS feeds? Perhaps a tab for purchased ebooks, allowing me to read them on screen on or offline at my leisure? Seems a sensible way forward.

Enjoying the bank holiday!
Eoin