Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

11/25/2011

A Popular App Based on a Book Drives Sales of Both


B1SKY1

The Solar App

Could the reverse be true? Could a book based on an app produce the same results?

This is the premise in an article by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg in the Wall Street Journal … and it really caught my eye. The reason it grabbed the attention of this non-techie is simply this: I thought an app was nothing more than a computer language code that told software to do something … and I’m having trouble visualizing that into a book 🙂

Perhaps it’s a written code that translates the content of a printed book so it can go digital … But, if that is the case, isn’t that just an e-book and not an app? (Is an e-book itself an app?)

Maybe one of the more enlightened can educate me on this. I’m probably making this more complicated than it is. My mind suffers from tunnel vision sometimes. 

Jeffrey’s article follows:

Last year, Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers Inc. learned that a popular iPad application based on a book could drive sales of both. Now the publisher will see whether the reverse works: a book based on an iPad app.

Black Dog this month published the print book “Solar System: A Visual Exploration of the Planets, Moons, and Other Heavenly Bodies that Orbit Our Sun” by Marcus Chown. The 224-page book, priced at $29.95, is filled with space photos and graphics that track the planets as well as asteroids and comets.

It was originally published as an iPad app for Christmas 2010 as a joint venture between the U.K.’s Touch Press LLP and Faber & Faber Ltd. Priced at $13.99, the app has sold 75,000 copies globally, said Max Whitby, chief executive of Touch Press.

In addition to presenting an interactive experience with the solar system, it contains 30,000 words of text by Mr. Chown, a science writer. The partners subsequently licensed the U.S. and other print rights to Black Dog & Leventhal. The physical book is being published in the U.K. by Faber & Faber.

Black Dog will be watching to see whether the parallel effort does as well as Theodore Gray’s “The Elements,” published in 2009 originally as a physical book. Mr. Gray subsequently teamed up with Mr. Whitby to publish an app version of “The Elements” that went on sale in April 2010 at the same time that Apple Inc. launched its iPad. “We were in the app store on day one,” said Mr. Gray.

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11/04/2011

B&N’s Nook Tablet to Compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire


"Take That, iPad!"The Amazon and Barnes & Noble e-reader market is morphing into the tablet computer market … and bringing with it advances and features that should have Apple iPads shaking in their digital boots! … AND at a lighter weight and cost!

I just love it when the competitive intrigue goes exponential in a new industry market 🙂

This from Crain’s New York Business by Matthew Flamm

Barnes & Noble plays with Amazon’s Fire

The bookstore chain will introduce a new Nook tablet to compete with the e-tailer’s Kindle Fire. The new device will be available on Nov. 15.

The battle for the e-reader market isn’t over yet. Little more than a month after Amazon Inc. announced the launch of the Kindle Fire, its souped-up tablet that becomes available Nov. 15, archrival Barnes & Noble Inc. is getting set to roll out its new Nook.

The Nook Tablet, which will show movies in addition to displaying magazines, newspapers and books, will be introduced to the press on Monday morning at the Barnes & Noble Union Square store. It will be priced at $249, making it $50 more than the Fire, but will offer twice the memory of Amazon’s tablet, according to tech blog Engadget, which posted details about the new device and other updates to the Nook family of e-readers on its site Thursday evening.

In addition to its new tablet, Barnes & Noble has enhanced its Nook Color to include access to the subscription video hub Hulu Plus, and cut its price by $50 to $199. The touch-enabled Nook that launched last May with a price tag of $139 has been renamed the Nook Simple Touch and will be priced at $99. That makes it slightly more expensive than the $79 Kindle, but unlike Amazon’s device, the Nook won’t display ads.

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Related article on Amazon’s Kindle Fire

This blog is available on Kindlle :)))

 

09/26/2011

Amazon Jumps From Passive E-Readers To Active Tablet Computers With ‘Kindle Fire’


 

Throw Some KINDLE on that FIRE!

Amazon has decided to do battle with Apple in the tablet computing world … “A” vs “A” so to speak 🙂

In an effort to stay more relevant in the rapidly changing tech universe, and not to fall prey to obsolescence (as did AOL), Amazon is trying to go more 3-dimensional by stretching from the digital retailing/e-reader biz into the more active and multifaceted tablet computing arena.

David Streitfeld  in The New York Times:

Amazon Has High Hopes for Its iPad Competitor 

SAN FRANCISCO — One after another, like moths to a flame, technology companies have been seduced into entering the market for tablets. Apple made it look so irresistible, with 29 million eager and sometimes fanatical consumers snapping up an iPad in the device’s first 15 months.

But neither Samsung nor Motorola nor Acer could beg or borrow any of Apple’s magic. Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry, said it shipped only 200,000 of its PlayBooks in three months — about what Apple sells in three days. Hewlett-Packard, which flopped this summer with the TouchPad, was the latest to get burned.

Now comes a final competitor, the best-placed challenger of all: Amazon.com. The retailer is on the verge of introducing its own tablet, analysts predict, a souped-up color version of its Kindle e-reader that will undercut the iPad in price and aim to steal away a couple of million in unit sales by Christmas.

A competition between Amazon and Apple tablets will be a battle that pits the company that created the first popular e-reader (and set off a still-unfolding revolution in how books are consumed) against the company that created the first popular tablet (and set off a revolution in progress about how entertainment and other media are consumed).

Both companies are riding high, racking up record revenues and seeing their stock market valuations cruise to new peaks. Each has ample resources to enjoy a pitched struggle for people’s attention and their wallets.

Whichever company triumphs, said the Barclays analyst Anthony DiClemente, “the consumer is going to be the winner.”

“The fact that Amazon is making such a huge investment might make Apple come back into the market at a lower price point,” he suggested. “What’s to prevent them from slimming down the iPad?”

Most tech companies like to keep their cards close to their vests, but Amazon, like Apple, strives to render the whole deck invisible. It has, though, scheduled a news conference in Manhattan on Wednesday, and the speculation on technology blogs and among analysts is that the tablet will be unveiled.

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08/29/2011

Apple iPad vs Samsung Galaxy – Who’s Infringing Who? – More Intrigue


Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Growing intrigue in the tablet computer world! The two best tablets on the market are jostling for position and sales … with each throwing accusations at the other RE copyright infringement.

Apple, scared stiff of the more advanced Android based OS of the Galaxy, started firing infringement violations at Samsung and now Samsung is shooting back with counter copyright infringement lawsuits against Apple.

Neat. I am looking forward to the resulting best, cutting edge solution for the consumer.

Latest developments by Luke Hopewell for ZDNet:

Samsung fires back in Apple Oz Galaxy suit

Update In the latest developments in the ongoing patent saga between Samsung and Apple, Samsung today revealed a plan to countersue Apple for patent infringement within its flagship iPad tablet while pledging to push back its official launch date to the end of next month.

Legal representatives from both parties met for a directions hearing in the NSW Federal Court today, where barrister David Catterns, acting for Samsung, revealed to the court a plan to countersue Apple once the case made it to trial.

“Our cross claim will include a cross claim of infringement for a number of our patents that have been infringed by their [Apple’s] iPad,” Catterns told Justice Annabelle Bennett today, adding in a statement that its counter-claim would also encompass the Apple iPhone.

Apple Australia originally sued Samsung after it felt that the gadget maker was infringing on its patents in its upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Samsung contested the allegation, saying that Apple Australia was basing its claims on the US version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1. The two parties at the time agreed to an undertaking that would see Samsung hold its shipment of the Australian version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 until Apple had the chance to study three of the units, seven days before the proposed release of the device to market.

Apple Australia told the court that it had received the units last Thursday, and had until this Thursday to complete its investigation. Representatives acting for Apple Australia told the court that they had found two patents that Samsung had allegedly violated, in the investigation process, that support the Apple case. Apple Australia has also added another patent to the laundry list of existing alleged infringements.

The interlocutory relief originally agreed to in the legal stoush expires on Thursday, with the court hearing that unless Apple can acquire further relief in the case, Samsung could easily launch its tablet on Friday.

Catterns, acting for Samsung, told the court that the company had intended to release the device on the week of 12 September, most likely on the Thursday or Friday, but, due to uncertainty in the legal proceedings, Samsung agreed to push the release of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 until the week of 30 September to allow for legal action to proceed. Samsung also agreed that it would give Apple Australia 48 hours’ notice before releasing the device to market.

Catterns added that any further interlocutory relief in the form of an injunction would be inappropriate and biased against Samsung, adding that Apple has failed to submit any real evidence to the court support its case.

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06/09/2011

Publishers Gain More Flexibility in iPad & iPhone Subs


The iPad and iPhone have become popular tools among magazine and newspaper readers.

Finally! Apple iStore has realized that their dictatorial management style RE pricing of subscriptions through apps in the iStore for the iPad and iPhone was a road to nowheresville, disgruntled customers and loss revenues.

Please refer to these previous posts for more background on this issue.

The latest today is from Crain’s New York Business:

Apple eases rules on iPad, iPhone subs

“Publishers will have more flexibility with Apple’s new digital publishing rules. They will now be allowed to undercut Apple’s app prices for subscriptions on their own websites and elsewhere.”

Apple has made a change that could help newspaper and magazine publishers make more money when they sell subscriptions for the iPad and iPhone.

The looser rules make it easier for publishers to sell subscriptions on Apple Inc.’s hot-selling devices outside the company’s online store.

Apple’s original subscription policy dictated that publishers couldn’t undercut the prices offered within their iPad and iPhone applications. Apple said Thursday that rule will no longer apply.

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04/06/2011

Financial Times Still Nixing Apple’s Subscription Plan


Back to the intrigue of Apple’s greedy and asinine subscription plan for magazines and newspapers offered on its iPad and through its iTunes app store.

You are cordially invited to read my previous posts on this subject (all arranged at one convenient link) on my Writers Welcome Blog for more background on this issue.

Although the New York Times and a few others have signed up for the Apple subscription plan, the Financial Times and others have stayed away…saying ‘subscriber relationships are too important to give up in return for the convenience of in-app purchases.’

That last statement refers to Apple’s refusal to give subscriber demographics to the publishers who created them in the first place! This data is crucial to publishers for follow up customer service and special deal offerings among a host of other customer relations fulfillment issues.

This from Josh Lowensohn of CNET News

Financial Times not into Apple’s publishing rules

While some publishers like News Corp. and The New York Times Co. have jumped on board the digital subscription plan Apple unveiled in mid-February, others are bucking the trend, saying that subscriber relationships are too important to give up in return for the convenience of in-app purchases.

In an interview with Reuters yesterday, Rob Grimshaw, managing director of the Financial Times’ Web site, said the outlet was negotiating with Apple on a deal over its iPad subscription program. Grimshaw said that since having that user information and relationship was “at the core of our business model,” it wouldn’t make sense to give that up to Apple in return for a way to subscribe from within the app.

“If it turns out that one or another channel doesn’t mix with the way we want to do business, there’s a large number of other channels available to us,” Grimshaw told Reuters.

If a deal ends up being struck, it’s likely to send a message to other publishers that the stipulations within Apple’s new program are not set in stone.

Apple introduced its long-expected subscription program in February, offering publishers a chance to set both the price and length of subscriptions in return for Apple getting a 30 percent share. Publishers can get around the cut by bringing in existing or new subscribers from their own sites, though as part of the deal the publisher must maintain the same subscription terms and pricing elsewhere, which is problematic for publishers that want to offer special deals.

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04/04/2011

Exactly What is E-Book Distribution?


E-Book Distribution?

Many may already know the answer to this question…but, don’t realize they know the answer. So we are going to put things into focus with this post.

I was reading a piece about the coming launch of a new, and first, e-book distribution company in Brazil. Seems they are a few years behind us in this endeavor. Anyway, the news piece raised some questions in my mind as well as giving me an insight into how publishing companies think through establishing new formats and business models to keep up with the changing technology in publishing.  

Six big Brazilian publishers: Objetiva (partially owned by Santillana), Record, Sextante, Rocco, Planeta and L&PM — teamed up to launch an e-book distribution company called Distribuidora de Livros Digitais (DLD)…Which simply means Distributor of Digital Books in English.

The main question that flew into my mind while digesting this news was: ‘Hey, what the hell is involved in digital distribution?’ There’s no old- fashioned shipping and placing physical books in various, geographically separated bookstores and other outlets through contacts and contracts, etc…All that is involved is uploading your digital book for download to buyers, right?

Well, there is a little more involved, but not much. For instance, these e-book distributors must develop a platform to protect your e-book from piracy downloads, etc.

Go Publish Yourself gives a good initial definition of e-book distribution.

Now, just who are the e-book distributors in the good old U.S.A.? Anybody know off-hand? Again…many may already know the answer to this question…but, don’t realize they know the answer.

Author Wallace Wang, whose site’s mission is ‘meant to help potential authors understand how to self-publish, market, and ultimately profit from their books while avoiding traditional book publishers, stores, and distributors altogether’, has the answer…PLUS additional information and resources. 

Onward to the news article in Publishing Perspectives by Carlo Carrenho that churned all this in my mind (including an interview with Roberto Feith, Objetiva’s CEO and Chairman of DLD’s board):

Brazil’s DLD E-book Distribution Platform Opens For Business

A year after six Brazilian publishers launched the DLD e-book distribution platform, it opens for business today.
 
In March 2010, six Brazilian publishers –- Objetiva (partially owned by Santillana), Record, Sextante, Rocco, Planeta and L&PM — teamed up to launch an e-book distribution company called Distribuidora de Livros Digitais (DLD). The business model has several similarities with that of Libranda , in Spain –- though it’s a distinctly Brazilian enterprise. The company officially launched in August under the leadership of CEO Roberto Vaz Moreira. Since then the team has been working hard, albeit discretely, to launch the platform.

Still, it’s not uncommon in Brazilian publishing circles to hear the suggestion that DLD is little more than a good idea, one that is likely to remain vaporware…

In this exclusive interview, originally published in Portuguese at PublishNews, Roberto Feith, CEO of Objetiva and DLD’s chairman, openly reveals the actual plans, expectations and launch schedule of the new e-book distributor.

Please note that, at present, Brazil lags some three or four years behind the US in terms of digital development. Currently Xeriph is the only function e-book aggregator in Brazil, and Singular Digital is finding its way to becoming digital distribution hub for publishers. DLD, when it launches, will probably compete with both companies.

PublishNews Brazil: When will DLD launch its operation?

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03/10/2011

Hearst Magazines, iPad, Subscription Data Dispute–‘Bespoke’ Apps May Hold Key


The Hearst magazine empire, which includes more than 200 titles worldwide…including Cosmopolitan, Esquire, O ( The Oprah Magazine) among others in the U.S. …has held out offering subscriptions on the Apple iPad simply because Apple won’t release subscriber info to the publisher. I have posted on this issue before “Apple iPad Too Dictatorial to Publishers?“. Please visit for more background information on this issue.

Time Inc., Condé Nast and Meredith Corporation joined Hearst Corporation in boycotting the iPad for the exact same reason.

Anyway, it appears Hearst (and I assume the others if they haven’t already made other arrangements) may be approaching a work-around-solution to this problem that involves ‘bespoke‘ or custom-created publications for Apple instead of making their existing products available on the iPad.

(John’s Note: I did not know what bespoke meant before this research…AND, I’m still unsure just how the Hearst mags’ custom software for the Apple iPad will garner the subscriber info for Hearst…ANYONE have any ideas?) 

These details from Bloomberg.com by Brett Pulley 

Hearst Magazines ‘Optimistic’ About Resolving Dispute With Apple

David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines, said he’s “optimistic” that major publishers will be able reach an agreement with Apple Inc. (AAPL) about selling subscriptions for the computer maker’s iPad tablet.

Hearst Magazines, a unit of New York-based Hearst Corp. with more than 200 titles around the world, is among the big publishers trying to reach an agreement with Apple. Carey said he is concerned about getting access to information about people who subscribe to his company’s magazines on the iPad.

“I don’t think the publishing industry and Apple are on the same page relative to the data discussion,” said Carey at the Bloomberg Media Summit in New York. “We do not want to be disconnected from who the subscribers are. I’m going to be optimistic that the big publishers and Apple will find a way to work together.”

Hearst’s 14 U.S. titles include Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and O: The Oprah Magazine.

Apple last month started a subscription service for publishers of newspapers, magazines and other content applications. News Corp. (NWSA) is offering subscriptions to the Daily, its new digital-only news publication, through Apple.

Apple has refused to release some consumer information to publishers for customers who buy subscriptions directly through its App Store, which has been a sticking point for some publishers, including the closely held Hearst and Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s magazine group, Time Inc.

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02/24/2011

Publishers and Digital Content


Duncan Stewart, Director of Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT), Life Sciences and GreenTech for Deloitte Canada Research, has written an article for The Globe and Mail (a Canadian news site) titled Publishers of digital content face uphill battle; then proceeds to show the opposite in the body of the article!

At least he does so in this writers humble opinion.

Duncan begins by pointing out how the brick-and-mortar-ink-on-paper publishing industry has had a bad time due to digital innovation during the last few years (he is an ink-on-paper book fan)…Then, through relating his own very formidable reading habits while on a business trip for Deloitte in France, Belgium and Turkey, details how he reluctantly began reading much more accessable digital content.

Sounds like publishers of digital content just may be on the downhill side of any battle. He does touch on digital publishers’ dissatisfaction with some of the evolving digital distributors’ pricing models for subscriptions, etc…but, these kinks will all flush out with the oncoming deluge of more keen competition…Just growing pains.

The point is, digital publishing has arrived and is gobbling up market share.

Don’t get me wrong, I still feel that ink-on-paper books will always be with us…as will (mostly indy) bookstores…Just as one of many other players on the block and with totally revamped and more efficient distribution models (such as POD, more tech paper, etc).

Here then is Duncan Stewart’s fine piece, Publishers of digital content face uphill battle:    

The publishing industry has not been having fun in the last few years. Newspapers, magazines and books were hurt by competition from the Internet and the changes caused by consumers choosing digital content rather than traditional ink on paper. The industry has literally been decimated: roughly one in ten developed world publishers from 2006 isn’t even around any more.

With two of the world’s largest tech companies, Apple and Google, wooing them with new subscription pricing plans last week, one might think their business is about to get better.

One would be wrong, listening to the publishers’ comments in the press.

Before we get to that, let me share a story about my recent travels and reading habits. For the last two weeks I was giving a series of Predictions talks for Deloitte in France, Belgium and Turkey: trains, planes, and my suitcases were already close to 23 kilos! On only my third day, I finished the last book I had packed, and snagged the last Stieg Larsson book and David Mitchell’s latest, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet at Gagliani, a great English language bookstore in Paris.

By Turkey, I had finished those and English bookstores were not to be found. Although I am old fashioned and prefer paper books, my iPad was starting to look like the best, or at least the only, choice. In the mood for some trashy thrillers, I saw that Alistair Maclean’s entire oeuvre (if one can use that word about his novels) was available as eBooks.

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02/22/2011

The ‘New’ Apple iPad is Late to the Dance


I’ve heard that the new, updated Apple iPad’s actual shipping date has been moved back from April to June (production problems)…This will put it behind other new tablet version debuts (the Android OS market) by a couple of months.

So what, says I. I think Apple is playing catch up (with the anticipated upgrades in their new version) with some other tablets already on the market (Motorola’s Xoom, for example).  

But, you good people will decide if Apple will continue to be the main star in the tablet computer world. Their star is already dimmer due to the bungling of the Apple’s ‘publishers subscription plan’ for newspapers and magazines. This coupled with the new talent on the block will truly shape Apple’s place in the market.

This from Stefanie Botelho of FOLIO magazine:

The new iPad may be late to its own coming out party.

Yuanta Securities Co. reports iPad manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. is experiencing “production bottlenecks”. The shipment of the new version of the tablet might be pushed back from April to June.

Apple announced the launch of its subscription app last week, with magazines like Popular Science, Elle and Nylon signing on board.

The delay is cited to changes Apple made to the design of the second iPad in January. Vincent Chen, analyst at Yuanta, shares, “Our checks suggest new issues are being encountered with the new production and it is taking time to resolve them,” according to Bloomberg.com.

This may mean good news for the Android market. Chen observes, “As a number of Android 3.0 tablets are being launched in April and May, the delay in iPad 2 shipments may give the Android camp a brief window of opportunity.” As of last quarter, Apple’s corner 75 percent of the global tablet market, with Android tablets claiming 22 percent.

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