enhanced ebooks

Go Read This | 5 E-Book Trends That Will Change the Future of Publishing

So many things wrong here. I’ll deal with them one by one.

1) Enhanced EBooks

Imagine video that shows how to fix a leaky faucet or solve complex math problems in statistics; audio that pronounces foreign language words as you read them, and assessment that lets you check what you remember and comprehend what you just read. These interactive features and more are being developed now and will be on the market in a matter of weeks, not months.

Websites that do this pretty much already exist. Howcast has had a version up since 2008, EHow since even earlier. Why would ANYONE buy an ebook version of the web, unless it was truly valuable and niche orientated? I’ve more sympathy with the testing features, but suspect that such a set of tools would be better delivered over a subscription website rather than an ebook.

2) Devices

Because most developers are developing e-reader software that will work on multiple other devices (Kindle also works on the iPad, iPhone, and computers, for example), consumers will care less about the device and more about the user experience of the e-reader software, portability of titles from one device to another, and access to a full catalog of titles.

My fear about this is that as devices go multi-media, reading faces great competition from other media, something I’m fairly sure is detrimental to the medium.

3) Price

This has caused confusion among many consumers who simply think every e-book should be $9.99 or less. But the majority of titles offered on Amazon are priced above $9.99, especially those with unique interactive features. For professional and technical publishers like McGraw-Hill, our e-books cannot stand the low, mass market pricing some consumers think should be applied to every e-book. Our costs are invested in extensive product and editorial development of sophisticated and technical content; the cost of paper, printing, and binding are a fraction of the real expense. And for some very specific and technical subject areas, our markets are much smaller. We simply couldn’t afford to publish the work if it must be priced at the everyday low, low price of $9.99.

This confuses a publishers business model with the market. The Market has changed radically and many people can now publish cheaply. This will impact on existing business models. Believing that because your costs are high the market should pay you more is a recipe for disaster.

4) Contextual Upsell

E-books allow publishers to interact with their customers in new ways. Imagine customers who are trying to learn statistics and get stuck on a particular formula. They ask friends but no one can explain it well. They’re stuck.

They click a help button, which points them to the publisher site where they can download relevant tutorials about specific formulas for $2.99.

I’ve some respect for this kind of thinking, especially if it is deployed properly. I fear many publishers will not get to grips with it though!

5) Publishers Importance

Despite the hype around self-publishing via the web, publishing houses will play an even greater role in an e-book world. Commodity content is everywhere (and largely free), so high-quality vetted, edited content — which takes a staff of experts — will be worth a premium.

The problem with this is that it DOESN’T require a staff of experts. It requires AN EXPERT with access to the web and MAYBE an editor. No publisher need interfere. And increasingly, they probably won’t.

via 5 E-Book Trends That Will Change the Future of Publishing.

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.