Global Publishing Boom
By Courtney Carroll
Each year, the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany becomes home to thousands of book publishers, small and large, and this year was no different. However, this is the first year that publishers from Afghanistan attended and was praised. The publishers broke ground for the first time at this event and will not stop there. The owner and publisher of Afghanistan’s largest publishing company, Mohammed Ibrahim Shariti hopes “to tap into the international network of more than 7,000 exhibitors from around 100 countries … to show his country is back on the publishing map.”
Personally, I could not be happier. I am a huge advocate for international relations and bringing a country that has been torn apart for decades by conflict back together with publishing is more than I could hope for. Afghanistan peaked through in the literary market in 2003 with “Kabul-born, US-based writer” Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and followed in 2007 by his A Thousand Splendid Suns.
This is just the beginning of Afghanistan’s wonderful budding relationship with the publishing industry. International publishing is important if we hope to keep the publishing industry alive and flourishing for several more decades and bringing together countries born of conflict is a great start.
Shariti also commented that “about a third of the population [in Afghanistan] still does not know how to read or right and the printing industry in Afghanistan is still problematic.” I think that international publishing companies can work together to bring literacy rates up in these Middle Eastern and third world countries. There are many other struggles that the publishing industry in Afghanistan is dealing with, but hopefully their presence at the Frankfurt Book Fair is the end to some hardships for the country.
Translating English-written Books for Spanish-speaking Readers
By Courtney Carroll
International publishing is dear to my heart. I have spent almost ten years learning Spanish in High School, College, and on my own. For decades, books have been translated into English for the majority of people to read, but for the first time, a publishing company will be translating English-written books into Spanish so people who speak the second most common language in the world can read books written in America.
Open Road Media will be teaming up with Barcelona Digital Editions to form Ciudad de Libros/Open Road Espanol. This will be Open Road Media’s “first venture into the foreign-language e-book market.”
Does everyone realize how exciting this is? I have been reading Spanish writers for years, but now, Spanish readers will be able to read English writers! Most of the books that will be available through this new company will release its debut list in “the first quarter of 2014” and its goal is “to do a few hundred titles in its first full year of operation,” according to Open Road CEO Jane Friedman.
My gut always told me that in order for me to be more useful and successful in the publishing industry, I needed to hunker down and learn Spanish or another language. I was right. This company is hiring bilingual staff for editing and marketing and I could not be happier. There will be titles in “popular fiction, literary fiction, and mysteries” that will be from authors that are Spanish, English, and more in coming years. Literacy rates are sure to take off in Latin America, also.
E-books as Promotional Material
By Barbara Dickson
My attention was caught by a brief release on GalleyCat announcing that Vintage Books would be releasing an excerpt from The Power of Passage, part of Robert Caro’s biography series about Lyndon Johnson. The excerpt costs $1.99 and is titled Dallas, November 22, 1963.
This ability to chunk content and use it as promotional material is brilliant. As a reader, I may not be interested in reading thousands of pages about Lyndon Johnson, but I am interested in the Kennedy assassination—and this perspective (from Johnson’s point of view) is different than what’s normally seen. I’m willing to drop a couple of dollars to read more about the events of November 22, 1963. And who knows? I may find that I really enjoy Caro’s writing style and wind up paying for the entire book.
I’ve noticed a similar strategy with romance novels. Many romance novelists write series of books that follow families, or residents of a certain town. I’ve started reading some of these series through purchasing novellas that only cost a dollar or two (or are free) that provide side stories related to the rest of the series. It’s a small financial commitment and a small time commitment to see whether I enjoy the author’s writing and the characters.
One of my favorite writers, Jennifer Weiner, has released nine full-length novels, plus a book of short stories. In addition, she has written short stories that she has released as eShort Stories that are available for purchase and download solely as e-books.
For these authors, using chunks of material and shorter stories provides both an additional revenue stream and a marketing opportunity. In the case of Caro’s book, he has already written the material, so it requires very little effort to provide exposure to an audience he may not have accessed before. For authors of fiction, writing these briefer works provides an additional artistic outlet and a low-risk way for readers to be introduced to their work. Sample chapters can be great for fiction, but as a reader, I appreciate being able to read how an author formulates an entire story.
And even if I hate it and never want to read anything by that author again, well…that’s still $1.99 out of my pocket and into Amazon’s/the publisher’s/the author’s.
When Is an E-book Necessary?
By Barbara Dickson
The responses of 1,400 members of the American Mathematical Society showed that across ages, mathematicians valued both print and electronic versions of their books. There seems to be an audience for both print and electronic versions of books, and the article “Bringing eBooks to Book” delves into the question of Why?
In publishing, e-books have become something of a buzzword. It’s the next thing in technology, so companies feel that it’s a world they have to rush into, without necessarily thinking about what they’re hoping to accomplish. There’s a fear that the company, if it doesn’t offer ebook versions of their titles, will be perceived as being behind the times. Consequently, even without looking at what the audience wants, companies might rush forward into producing a product that nobody actually wants.
This article goes into detail about what publishers should take into consideration when they move into the world of publishing e-books. Should it be outsourced? Should it just be an electronic version of the print product?
E-books can be so much more than just an electronic version of a print product; however, technology still has limitations on what we can do with electronic books. For the moment, it doesn’t seem that electronic books are the end to print—they can supplement and bolster the print products, but print isn’t dead.
And publishers need to examine their mission and business model before rushing into the world of e-Publishing. If you put the effort and time and money into producing an ebook and nobody buys it … is looking progressive enough of a justification?
Read the full article at http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2013/10/02/bringing-ebooks-to-book/.
Those DAM Yankees (and Digital Trends)
By Joel Dulin
The world is trending digital, so it seems. Digital asset management (DAM) companies, which seek to facilitate e-content production of materials produced in the heavily New York-world of publishing, are pressing their services to presses in light of the digital revolution. One such company, Yudu, is now even producing user-friendly workflow systems to assist less-than-tech-savvy press staff members in creating web-ready content1. Yudu stresses a reading future heavy in tablet technology produced by Microsoft, Google, and Apple2. But what does this company base their assumptions on that long-form e-content will proliferate? Publishers’ overall sales of digital items still pale in comparison to their physical ones, yet because it’s projected that digital will only become more popular, they’re investing zillions of dollars to perfect the perfect DRM-clad text file. But is the push toward digitalizing book content more hype than necessity? According to Ann Mack, it may be.
Mack works for JWT Intelligence, a company that specializes in spotting trends. As reported on EContent, she began following a trend in 2010 or 2011 that had to do with how millenials spend their time. What she discovered has profound implications for the publishing industry. Although millenials spend plenty of time online, there is a trend toward what she calls “de-teching.” Essentially, teens and young adults are purposefully spending time away from technology and engaging in the physical world. As Mack puts it, “As our dependency on technology rises, so too will our desire to dial it down, at least temporarily, so we can be present in the offline now and see people face to face and engage with them in reality rather than in virtual reality3.”
In terms of the publishing, this means people like to pick up books, not e-Readers. And it has more to do than just a generational preference in form.
Apparently, people seem to prefer, and are perhaps better at processing, short-form information in digital form rather than long-form information. ANCILE Solutions Inc. has taken this lesson to heart. The company trains its employees digitally and has found that it is better to provide them content in “snack-size’ bites3.” Christopher Sardone, who works with TeliApp, says that in a similar manner to ANCILE, “Short, time-sensitive content that holds little long-term value – like news articles – are better for tablets and e-Readers than lengthy content that will be used frequently and continuously over a long period of time3.”
Other sources back up these claims. Paige Lester in her article “5 Powerful Ways to Connect with Your App Audience: The Importance of Engaging Mobile Content,” notes that people tend to use digital in short snippets – particularly smart-phone users. It’s mainly in the evening that people sit down with their tablets.4 This means, of course, that people by and large aren’t reading anything long-form on their phones; they’re scanning headlines, throwing birds at stones and pigs (the Angry Bird game, for those who didn’t get the reference), and checking their email accounts. And as for their tablets – they aren’t necessarily reading. In fact, book sales in forms that will be read on tablets have been less than to e-Readers. Chances are, they’re playing with other apps, checking Facebook, watching Netflix, et cetera.
Now, this isn’t to say all this talk about digital book sales are boloney. I’d have to be quite ignorant of the industry to assert something like that. On the contrary, there is a huge future in digital sales, but the strength of digital books won’t simply come via the text being in electronic form. Their strength of sales is going to come from their enhancements. Certain publishers, considering the enhancements possible with digital technology, are developing apps that use book metadata to localize content, so words in a children’s book could read “ill” in Great Britain and “sick” in the United States5.
In light of the changes that digital has brought to publishing, it’s important for publishers not just to digitize their content but to understand how people interact with digital content and what type of works do best in digital form. Understanding these trends means that a publisher can better focus its time and money producing valuable digital content for profits greater than that they are currently gleaning.