Friday, December 3, 2010

Developing The Future of Books 12:30-1:30 P.M. New Work City

Developing The Future of Books 12:30-1:30 P.M. New Work City

It was very easy getting to New Work City. The office space is very close to the N and Q subway lines.
There was enough seating for the presentation. New Work City  served pizza, water, and soft drinks. The pizza was quite good.  The staff was helpful and pleasant.

As always, I include what catches my interest and seems relevant. I also like to throw in my own comments and thoughts.

This was a Roundtable discussion by Pearson Education in combination with Penguin Books. The presenters were sponsors of the New Work City space. Pearson is a massive publishing company. The talk focused on the development and entrepreneurial side of the ebook business.

The presentation was quite fascinating. Many of the people in the crowd owned Kindles or Ipads and some owned both. There were still people like myself who took notes in the old fashioned way; in a notebook with a pen.

Most of the audience used Amazon to purchase their books on Kindle or Ipad. This is kind of interesting to me because in the library space, Nooks and Sony are the two main platforms which are used to download books from Overdrive which is the largest provider of ebooks to libraries. If you want to read books from Overdrive or Epub books;  Bluefire is an application which allows people to read Epub on Ipad, or Iphone

I learned we are at the beginning of the real takeoff of ebooks. in 2010, 10% of books are now purchased as ebooks.

The presenters showed us a variety of new applications, many of which are experimental.  They were from very popular authors.  There were two children s book applications: Topsy and Tim which included puzzles and games for the Iphone and Ipad , and Spot the Dog by Eric Hill for Ipad

The application that caught my attention was a book application of The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. This included three hours of video, music, art, and images. I found it surprising that the publisher would add in a television series to a book.   This reminds me of Vook which combines videos with books

There was also some discussion about an app which was also a book called Paul Kelly How to Make Gravy which combined music with autobiography  Paul Kelly is from Australia.  Paul Kelly was compared to Bob Dylan. I have seen that some of the books which we get in about musicians are including cds of music with their biographies.

The app for the Paris Travel Guide by Dorling Kindersley.  reminded me of Frommer's Travel Unlimited  which is being sold as a database of travel books.

The presenters told us that paper is still the best technology for coffee table books and photography books. A few people suggested that it is still not possible to get a signed book via a computer. Many people still like reading books in paper. I learned that that paper is only 10% of the cost of a book  I think paper books will still be around for a long time, especially with print on demand.

There were some statistics about readership which were interesting. Ipads and Kindles are driving up the amount of material people read. People who have an Ipad or Kindle are likely to read 3x as many books. It is like digital music where people are listening all the time.The statistics reminded me of the NEA study which shows that reading is on the rise especially in electronic formats.

Another idea that caught my attention was that there are essentially three types of ebooks; apps, ebooks, and enhanced ebooks. There are other things which I have seen which are quite experimental. There is also something called the "Visual Novel" which combines games with novels. It is basically a mix of simple games, choose your own adventure, and manga style graphics. Hanako Games makes visual novels in the United States.

An audience member commented that there may be a new kind of agent coming into being with digital books.

The question about being able to make notes inside books was asked. I learned that there is a competitor to The Copia  called Bookglutton  which allows social annotation of books. People share notes inside books.

The talk was very technology oriented. It touched on topics like virtual book clubs, cookbook apps, Amazon's policy that the ebooks they sell are leased, and the experimental nature of ebook apps.

Many audience members were interested in being able to purchase the physical book bundled with an ebook online. This is already happening with some technical books. Although it was not discussed, many authors make their books available online as creative commons to help drive their print sales.

Subscription models for ebooks was touched on. O'Reilly books has a subscription model for its technical books which is affordable called Safari Books.

I was surprised to hear that there was very little piracy of ebooks. Less than 1% of piracy comes from epub.

There was not a lot of talk about blogs. There was a little bit about bloggers becoming authors, but nothing on blogging communities like Bookblogs on Ning.

The talk was very well presented and enjoyable to hear. It was a very different crowd than librarians, writers, editors, or publishers. There was a very wide variety of people there. There were thirty people at the talk.

At the end of the talk, we did a little bit of networking. I met Travis Alber, President of Bookglutton there. I also got a chance to get a better sense of how New Work City worked. It is shaping up to be quite congenial.

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