Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

07/28/2011

A New Way to Reinvent Book Publishing?


Unbound Publishing, the Kickstarter for books

How about getting the public’s opinion on the viability of a book story … AND THEN get them to contribute to its funding, story input and advance? Pretty cool, huh?

Well this business model is being fine-tuned, tweaked and used by Unbound Publishing in the United Kingdom.

“…with Unbound the funding for the book–as well as the fan’s approval process, which is very public–happens up front, and much more swiftly…and the marketing happens by word of mouth.”

Details by Kit Eaton in FastCompany.com :

Unbound’s Crowd-Financed, Spine-Tingling Effort To Reinvent Book Publishing

Unbound publishing, the Kickstarter for books, just had its very first success: It reached its target so that it could produce and then publish a new book by none other than Terry Jones, of Monty Python fame. Why is the tech and publishing world so excited about a single book from a lone, unheard-of, pint-sized publisher? Because the whole principle behind Unbound is to take the ancient, leather-bound business model of book publishing, rip out its crumbling pages, and replace it with crowd-funding, social interaction, and tandem digital publications and real hardback books. 

Here’s the core of Unbound’s idea: It proposes a new book on its website, and people choose to “donate” a small amount of money to it, in the hope that the book gets produced. The more money you donate, the more likely the target will be reached, and the bigger “treats” you get–right up to dinner with the author. When the target is reached, writing begins and people who’ve funded the book get special access to a back room at Unbound’s website, where they can interact in limited form with the author as the book emerges. At the end, an e-text is published and distributed, but you can also choose to get a high-quality hardback edition, printed on good paper with cloth binding for people who like their books to be weighty, well-designed, and smell like traditional books.

Unbound (tagline: “Books Are Now In Your Hands”) is most similar to Kickstarter, the crowd-sourced funding body that’s been responsible for all sorts of interesting projects from iPod Nano wristwatches to a swimming pool. “We get a little bit of gyp from purists who say we’re not opening the platform out as wide as Kickstarter,” Unbound’s cofounder John Mitchinson explained to Fast Company, “Which at the moment is definitely true.”

Unbound promotes carefully selected books–from well-known names–to see if the crowd is keen to buy a final product, and that’s definitely no Kickstarter. “We’re managing the back end in a way that Kickstarter doesn’t,” says Mitchinson. “They’re a pure fundraising platform.” In comparison, Unbound takes on more of a traditional publisher role once the funding target is raised. “We’re printing and distributing and finding the market for the books,” says Mitchinson. 

Read and learn more

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07/21/2011

Paid Book Reviews – Credible or Expensive Trash?


Do Book Reviewers Actually Read the Material?

All the new indie publishing opportunities out there begs the question: Are book reviews functional or even necessary … especially in the digital sector where readers can just read the trailer or synopsis to find if the story may appeal to them enough to fork over $.99 to $1.99 (or a little higher).

I really don’t know. I’m a little conflicted on the whole concept of book reviews … especially paid book reviews.

Even in traditional publishing, book reviews RE fictional story telling, especially, were dubious to me at best. After all, reviews are just opinions … and you know what they say about opinions. Just because another author or other person of note says a story is good or bad, doesn’t mean another one million readers won’t disagree!

The only legitimate book reviews, I believe, probably exist in the science, math and technical areas when an expert in the field of the subject matter comments on its viability … But, this is something that can be politically motivated, so you have to be careful here, also! 

So, are book reviews necessary or good? I feel they might have a certain marketing value among those enamored with the reviewer … usually this applies to the adolescent, younger crowd.

Reviews will also be taken more seriously if the reviewing source has worked up a certain credibility (this seems very hard work) and track record amongst a particular niche. “I have enjoyed every single book that XYZ has reviewed and recommended! I will always read their reviews.”

If your e-book is good, it will get great word-of-mouth (or social media rush) and that is the best reviews you can receive … and they are free!

Here is a good insight and view on book reviews by indie author advocate Lynn Osterkamp, Ph.D. at http://pmibooks.com:

Are Paid Book Reviews Credible?

What if you could get 50 people to post positive reviews of your book on Amazon? For a reasonable fee?

I know the importance of having reviews of my books on Amazon. A mix of professional reviews and customer reviews is ideal. But for indie publishers and self-published authors, reviews–especially professional reviews–can be hard to get. Many professional reviewers still refuse to review books not published by mainstream publishers.

Sites that will review our books are increasingly charging a fee for what they term an expedited review or for posting the review they write on sites like Amazon and B&N. While most of these book review sites continue to offer free reviews, they warn that due to increasing numbers of submissions, a book submitted for a free review may take months to get reviewed or might not get reviewed at all.

So should you pay for a review?

Purists on author discussion groups and blogs continue to insist loudly that paying for a review with anything other than a free copy of the book, it is wrong. They say these reviews have little to no credibility and will ruin your reputation.

Read and learn more

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02/04/2011

Publishing Pother Makes No Dent in Professional Book Publishing


Professional book publishing; which includes the legal, medical, business, scientific and technical fields; has weathered the chaotic publishing field  transformation of late and has pretty much maintained a steady flow of publishing flurry…to the tune of approximately 13 billion in 2010!

New professional books have busily occupied actual shelf space in bookstores and libraries as well as staked out new real estate in the e-book and digital online world.

Simba Information, the leading authority for market intelligence in the media and publishing industry, spills some data from it’s “Global Professional Publishing 2009-2010” report that I picked up from a MarketWire press release:

Professional books, still a foundational reference source for most working professionals, grew 1.1% to $13.9 billion in 2010, an initial step toward a full recovery. Media and publishing forecast firm Simba Information’s latest report, “Global Professional Publishing 2009-2010,” details the resilience of professional books through the recession and the explosive adoption of electronic models.

After losing sales in 2009 due to contracted library budgets and decreased exports, professional book publishing, which includes the legal, medical, business, scientific and technical fields, has nearly regained its 2008 position. Although largely due to a recovering economy, new e-book strategies and products from large commercial publishers have helped libraries make the most of their budgets and shelf space. 

“Although publishers have dealt with electronic journals for years, producing electronic books as a viable publishing product is slowly taking hold,” said Dan Strempel, lead author of the report. “E-books are now gaining a prominent foothold within the professional and academic world at large.”

Historically vilified by the scholarly publishing world, search giants, such as Google and Yahoo!, have proven to be a boon to the industry, as added exposure has increased book sales. The report finds publishers are especially excited about Google Books, which allows users to browse sample pages before purchasing the full text or designated sections.

Read and learn more

01/19/2011

Interactive Digital Books-Making Reading an Experience


I first posted about video-enhanced books on my Writers Welcome Blog back in February, 2010. These new interactive  books are called

Vook

“vooks” and, along with the written content, offer video, enriched imagery and social sharing!

Vooks Inc. offers these digital, interactive books and the company is growing in popularity and investment funding…just wrapping up $5.25 million in Series A financing from investors including VantagePoint Venture Partners and Floodgate Fund.

Here is the latest poop from Ty McMahan of The Wall Street Journal:

Are “Vooks” the Future of Book Publishing?

You can find a Sherlock Holmes book in just about any bookstore. But when you buy an interactive digital book called a “vook,” you get the “Sherlock Holmes Experience.”

So says Vook Inc., which offers digital books that combine video, text, photos and social sharing. Its Sherlock Holmes vook, for instance, features two classic stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – “The Man with the Twisted Lip” and “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” – and enhances them with videos that delve into the history and legend surrounding the character of Holmes.

Vook founder and Chief Executive Brad Inman said he believes he has found the future of publishing. Some investors agree. The company told VentureWire it has closed $5.25 million in Series A financing from investors including VantagePoint Venture Partners and Floodgate Fund, a firm founded by angel investor Michael Maples. Vook plans to add to its sales team and continue to accelerate the technology platform.

Read and learn more

02/22/2010

Publishers Bet on "Enhanced" Textbooks for the Digital Future

Filed under: e-book,e-Reader,e-textbooks,publishing — gator1965 @ 6:12 pm

Sarah Weinman of Daily Finance has written an excellent article on what a significant player enhanced digital books will be in the future educational world. The increased visual and audio interaction coming in textbooks will be immediately wondrous and engrossing to students.

By Sarah Weinman:
The publishing industry is chockablock with jargon, but one word we’re going to hear a whole lot more of over the next few months and years is “enhanced.” After all, as the world increasingly goes digital, stand-alone texts may not be enough to justify pricey new gadgets, be they e-readers, smartphones or tablets like Apple’s (AAPL) iPad. That’s apparently the rationale behind the investment of $2.5 million in seed funding in Vook, a company specializing in multimedia-enhanced books, by a group of backers including Huffington Post Chairman Ken Lerer.

Enhanced books may provide a method for textbook companies to make money on new digital editions at a time when the rental-book market appears to be booming faster than the e-book one, as I reported on DailyFinance last week. So get ready for DynamicBooks, a subsidiary of Macmillan that promises a more interactive textbook experience.

As The New York Times reported Monday morning, DynamicBooks aims to deliver textbooks Wikipedia-style, allowing college instructors to edit, modify, add video and pictures to, and rewrite chapters or paragraphs of textbooks as they see fit — all without consulting the original authors. “Basically they will go online, log on to the authoring tool, have the content right there and make whatever changes they want,” Macmillan president Brian Napack told the newspaper. “And we don’t even look at it.”

Digital textbooks will be much cheaper than print editions — the e-book edition of Psychology will sell for $48.76, a far better deal than the list price of $134.29. And there’s some financial incentive for the instructors, too: According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, “for each customized copy that a student buys, the professor who contributed the material gets a dollar.” Changes made by professors would be clearly noted in the text.

But Will They Sign Up?

Macmillan’s partnership with Dynamic Books joins a number of other enhanced-textbook alliances, such as McGraw-Hill’s (MHP) Connect, WileyPlus from John Wiley & Sons (JW.A), Follett Higher Education Group’s CafeScribe, and Flat World Knowledge, which charges for print editions but gives away digital versions for free. In theory, where Dynamic Books will differ from its rivals is that it will allow other publishers to upload their own textbooks onto the service, so long as Macmillan gets an 18% markup.

In practice, that hasn’t happened yet, and it remains to be seen if other publishers will sign on to a competitor’s service when they’d have to pay extra for the privilege, and when the existing consortium, CourseSmart, may not be subject to the additional service fees.

Another unanswered issue is how instructor modifications will be regulated. The $1 cut each instructor could make for every DynamicBook bought was defended by the company’s general manager, who said that “only professors who make significant changes in a book will qualify for payment.” But that in turn raises larger questions of whether personal agendas or misinformation will make their way into the enhanced editions. As Neil Comins, co-author of the astronomy textbook Discovering the Universe, told The New York Times, if an accepted change contradicted basic scientific tenets — like putting a creationist slant on the universe’s origins — “I would absolutely, positively be livid.”

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