Monday, October 14, 2013

MediaWeek (V7, N41): Frankfurt Sessions, Libraries and Offsite Storage, State of Publishing from New Republic + More

Publisher's Weekly round-up of some of the early educational sessions at Frankfurt last week including mine on responsive web design. (PW)
Uncertainty is one big obstacle holding publishers back from outsourcing their distribution, observes CEO Gareth Cuddy of ePubDirect. “As the marketplace shifts, margins are squeezed on print, and industry reports showing e-book prices for bestsellers continue to average between $2.99 and $7.99, publishers are cautious about entering the e-book market. But distribution services such as ePubDirect not only share the digital publishing expertise but also allow publishers to access new markets, grow sales internationally and ultimately sell more books.”

And publishers do have a much stronger appetite to sell content directly to consumers nowadays, says executive director of publishing services Walter Walker of code-Mantra, attributing it “to either the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision on e-book price-fixing or simply the astonishing level of activities in the e-book retail business. But the XML-first mandate is one that many publishers find intimidating, and our goal is to use highly efficient plug-ins and templates at the prepress stage without disrupting the traditional Word-to-InDesign authoring environment.”
From the ALPSP blog an excellent set of notes from my session (thanks!)
It's complicated. Apple iOS has 6 different size/resolution combinations. HTC has 12. Even within these platforms there is significant deviation. And it is getting more complicated with the introduction of Microsoft and Asus tablets.
Cairn's advice on how to do RWD right starts with understanding your users and how they access and use your content. Prioritise your content based on the above, then build a site architecture that answers to these priorities. Design a site that provides content for users across device-types and contexts, with grids and typography and images that adapt.
What is responsive web design? It is where you maintain one website that services all devices and screen sizes. It provides complete support for all web pages and features, regardless of the device or screen size. And it enables you to implement changes across all devices.
And this one from the Frankfurt Bookfair blog:
As Bruce Lee said, “when you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle.” So should be your online strategy…or so Michael Cairns, COO, Online Division at Publishing Technology, says.

In the “Pixel Imperfect: Serving an Online Audience with Responsive Content” presentation at CONTEC Frankfurt today, Cairns and Michael Kowalski, Founder, Contentment, discussed the need for publishers (both book and magazine) to create mobile-enabled content for the rising mobile reader. As one of those readers who is reading increasingly on my phone and less on my computer, tablet, or ereader, I appreciated that someone was trying to figure out something to fix all of those books, sites, and magazines I so love so I can read them on the go and not fumble through poorly-converted web-focused content.
From Eoin Purcell on the fair itself: (Blog)
If I was to put my finger on one key root cause though, I think that what’s going on is that publishers have, as an industry, come to terms with the fact that they are in the midst of a great disruption, one that they cannot individually predict the long term outcome of (and Michael Bhaskar spoke eloquently on this on Wednesday). There is general acceptance too that while individual companies retain huge power over their own destinies, the technology giants who have moved heavily into the content and media space, the rise of self-publishing and the general shift of digital distribution means that publishers are no longer the only forces in publishing and that increasingly they accept that they are not even the preeminent force in publishing.
From the Chronicle of Higher Education, as people return from summer vacation perhaps they are finding their libraries significantly changed. This is not a new story:
Talk of digital revolutions and bookless libraries notwithstanding, academic libraries around the country are feeling the squeeze as legacy collections outgrow shelves, and shelves give way to learning commons and shared study areas. Those twin pressure points—too many print books plus new demands on library real estate—have spurred academic libraries to try a set of state and regional experiments to free up library space to suit modern learning styles and still make sure that somebody, somewhere, hangs onto books that make up part of the intellectual record, even if those books haven't circulated in years.

For such experiments to succeed, librarians say, they should build off existing relationships among libraries, and they should draw on solid data—on persuasive and detailed analyses of what's in a collection and how it's used and whether those books are available somewhere else. The streamlining of collections has to be handled in a way that doesn't enrage faculty members who still cherish access to physical books. Many disciplines, especially the sciences, favor electronic resources, but print still holds powerful appeal for a lot of scholars
(No mention of NY public library)

Books Don’t Want to Be Free How publishing escaped the cruel fate of other culture industries from the New Republic.
Step back and look at books in a wider context, though, and the picture changes. If you’re in the business of selling journalism, moving images, or music, you have seen your work stripped of value by the digital revolution. Translate anything into ones and zeroes, and it gets easier to steal and harder to sell at a sustainable price. Yet people remain willing to fork over a decent sum for books, whether in print or in electronic form. “I can buy songs for 99 cents, I can read most newspapers for free, I can rent a $100 million movie tonight for $2.99,” Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s vice president of Kindle content, told me in January. “Paying $9.99 for a best-selling book—paying $10 for bits?—is in many respects a very strong accomplishment for the business.” At the individual level, everyone in the trade—whether executive, editor, agent, author, or bookseller—faces threats to his or her livelihood: self-publishing, mergers and “efficiencies,” and, yes, the suspicious motives of Amazon executives. But the book itself is hanging on and even thriving.
From Twitter
Frankfurt Session on "What is a publisher" (#pubnow)
Book market gains new momentum
Frankfurt Contec twitter feed (#contec13)

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