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Posts Tagged ‘iPhone’

We must apologize for the absence of new posts over the last few months. As you may know if you’re a NetGalley member, your Digital Concierge (me, Lindsey) went on maternity leave earlier than expected in late November, and this blog went on leave right along with me! Luckily we found great help in Sarah, who served as your Digital Concierge while I was out. Now I’ve returned to my post at NetGalley and we’re ready to give you an update.

Here’s what NetGalley’s been up to over the past few months:

  • Finding new ways for you to read digital galleys. Thanks to the Aldiko Book Reader app, Android users can now read NetGalley files on their devices. Have questions about using your iPad, iPhone, Kobo, Literati, Nook, Sony Reader, or other device with NetGalley? There’s a page for that!
  • Telling you about new titles. Currently we have more than 940 titles listed in NetGalley’s public catalog, and new galleys are added all the time. We send out periodic updates about our new titles, so make sure you’re signed up to receive our newsletters for your favorite genres. Plus, you can now view past and forthcoming newsletters on our NetGalley Features page. We’ll soon be announcing the Most Requested titles, so check back to see if it’s your favorite!
  • Helping your requests get approved. We asked publishers what criteria they use to determine whether to approve or decline galley requests. Wondering what publishers are looking for? Check out this new page BEFORE you request to better your chances of getting the galleys you want.
  • Getting to know you — our members. We closed out 2010 with 15,353 registered members of NetGalley (today, just three months later, we’ve surpassed 20,000 members!), and we took some time to look at what that number means:
    • Reviewers – including bloggers – make up almost half of our members (49%). Another 16.5% are librarians, and 11% are part of the media. Booksellers make up an additional 11% of our member community, while educators accounted for 9.7%.
    • When new members join NetGalley, we ask them to indicate which genres they’re interested in. Literature & Fiction is the most popular, but only by a little bit – Teens & YA is close behind. Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction & Fantasy, and Romance are next, followed by Nonfiction.
    • NetGalley members made 80,945 requests to view galleys in 2010. It’s probably not too much of a surprise to say that reviewers made most of those requests – 63.9% of them, to be precise.
    • Our members downloaded 45,422 galleys last year. Almost half (46.9%) were DRM-protected files downloaded with Adobe Digital Editions. 29.1% were sent directly to members’ Kindles, and 11.2% were DRM-free files.
    • And the result of all of those readers, requests, and downloads was a mountain of reviews sent to publishers via NetGalley: 7972, to be precise. That’s a 17.6% return on approved galley requests.

So that’s the latest from the NetGalley world. I look forward to connecting with you!

Happy Reading,
Lindsey

Digital Concierge
NetGalley

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One of the biggest challenges for publishers is tapping into the web’s inexpensive viral marketing while preventing the loss of sales and content due to theft. Oh, is that word too harsh? Theft? I bring that up because on one side of the coin, publishers don’t want to make their valued readers feel like potential criminals. But, on the other side of the coin, publishers are entrusted with authors’ content and don’t want it to lose potential profits either while sending out ARCs for review.

Let’s look at airport security for a second. It’s analogous. Airlines’ passengers, the very people who they rely on for business are treated much like criminals when poked and prodded through airport security.

Readers, who publishers rely on for reviews and buzz, may feel just as hassled and put out as airline passengers when they receive digitally rights managed (DRM) galleys. First, they have to figure out the type of DRM galley they’ve been sent. Maybe they have a Sony Reader but the DRM galley they received only works on Kindles. Or, they’re sick of reading things on their computer but the DRM galley can only be read on their computer and is not downloadable to their Kindle.

One way to avoid this is to survey your readers. Know your audience, right? Their reading habits have changed with the times. Find out if the majority of your readers use a Sony Reader, Kindle, Nook, iPhone, or other reader then offer those reading options. If you don’t already have a survey service, http://surveymonkey.com/  is great for a quick, free survey.  And, if you use NetGalley, then work with our Digital Concierge, Lindsey Rudnickas, to make sure your titles have the appropriate reading options available for your readers.

Another route to go, if you’d like to offer DRM-free, or open ARCs, so that they can be more easily passed from one person to the next, is to provide just the index and a few chapters of a galley, to get the benefit of generating buzz without all the risk. Digital galleys, unlike traditional printed ARCs, which are passed around as well, give publishers more control over how much of the content readers can view.

Let’s not forget our friends the excerpt. HTML excerpts are another way to give readers a taste of what a book has to offer without throwing the content to the wind. Just remember to use it as you would all marketing material with a call to action at the end. What would you like interested readers to do? If you’re a member of NetGalley you could provide a link to your title and suggest that interested readers request the galley now, or email the excerpt to a friend.

If you’re thinking, that’s fine, but a tad dull, add some video and or author audio clips to the DRM-free PDF you send to readers.  No matter how you dress up an ARC, it’s hard to include video and audio as easily and inexpensively as you can with a PDF (http://www.totalwebvideo.com/pdfmedia/pdfmedia.html). The benefit of digital galleys is that they can plug into so much more than their analog counterparts. 

With a little creative thinking publishers can use digital galleys to generate more buzz more easily and inexpensively than with printed galleys, without feeling like they’re giving away content for free.

 Additional Resources

E-Reader Matrix and supported formats: http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/E-book_Reader_Matrix

Adobe Content Server (ACS4) can provide DRM galleys for a number of devices including the nook and Sony readers. To see a complete list: http://www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions/devices/

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pretty book

Paper?

Is it just me, or have you noticed that there are some bookish types who like to pit electronic against paper as if it’s an either/or proposition? And have you also noticed that more often than not, discussions about utilizing new publishing technologies, quickly become polarizing arguments where one must supposedly choose: paper or plastic? Consider, for example, the Green Apple Bookstore videos poking fun at the Kindle — funny? Yes. silly? Yes. But, many a truth is said in jest, and a lot of people seem to think digital means the demise of the paper book.

I just want to say, for the record that: e- does not stand for “evil.”

Nor does it stand for “enemy.”

For anyone intent on finding enemies of the book, they need look no further than the traditional publishing model which goes something like this: Over-saturate market with hundreds of thousands of titles printed in paper, a few of which will be blockbusters, the rest of which will be returned to publishers. Repeat (until the money runs out).

You know that place where there are lots and lots of unsold, unread paper books, and lots and lots of out-of-work book industry folks? We’re so there.

ereader

or Plastic?

So, why demonize digital when digital appears to be a really viable part of the solution? And why suggest that any one format will ever be the solution? The way I see it, the only real solution is to have many solutions all working simultaneously to make available a diversity of content, a diversity of distribution alternatives, a diversity of formats and pricing, and even a diversity of features. Oh, and paper books are a part of this many-solution solution.

This same many-solution solution is a solution where publishers print POD if conditions call for it; gigantic print runs should that make sense; and lovely gorgeous full color hardbound books with gilded edges if that’s what the market demands — Yup, all of these options are part of the solution.

Paper is fabulous. Lots of people love it. Some swear by it. Heck, some of my best friends even sell paper (@permanentpaper).

Other readers love reading on plastic, and will have it no other way. Though, even they can not agree with one another on the best format or delivery mechanism for their electronic literature.

Many of us like to read different ways at different times. Sometimes we find it most pleasurable to read paper books– all manner of paper books: board books, pop-up books, mass market, hard cover, picture books, trade paper, (why, I’ve been known to read cereal boxes and I don’t see those going e- any time soon) — and sometimes we like to read ebooks – we will read them in a car, we will read them at the bar. We will read them on a Kindle, on a nook, on our computers, on our iphones, on our Play Stations — no doubt someone somewhere right this second is reading an ebook on their television.

And that’s okay. You see, one need not eschew the hand bound letter press book in order to enjoy a digitally delivered novella via their iphone. Theoretically, we can have it all.

Consider Follow the Reader’s sponsor, NetGalley. NetGalley allows professional readers and industry folks to read the book in digital form, prior to its paper debut, thus saving the costs – both financial and envirornmental, that would otherwise be spent on printed ARCs, galleys, and BLADs. For those reviewers who prefer the printed version of an ARC, publishers can offer that via NetGalley,  as well. In this case, the e-option can work beautifully alongside the printed paper book. Everyone goes home a winner. And that’s just one example where a digital version of a book is not necessarily a substitute for a finished paper book, but offers an alternative solution for the reader’s specific needs or preferences.

So, stop worrying about the death of paper books. Digital doesn’t mean the end of paper. It just means more opportunities for more readers to read “books” in the ways that are best suited to them.  And, by the way, I know I’m far from alone in believing the form of a book should fit its purpose and/or a reader’s preferences, and that there’s room for all kinds of books to live together peacefully.

Because, a book by any other name is just as sweet.

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OK, sounds dramatic, but trust me, mark down October 19, 2009 as a day to remember.

ia logo

Rarely, in my career have I been “blown away” by a demonstration.  Tonight, “blown away” doesn’t even begin to describe it.  I should have seen it coming, but, I didn’t.  I was completely blindsided.  I was blindsided by the vision of Brewster Kahle, the raw brilliance of his team, and the entire group of individuals and companies who played a role in Brewster’s “convocation”.

Brewster Kahle

Brewster Kahle

What I saw, was many of the dreams and visions of e-book aficionados everywhere becoming a demonstrable reality tonight.  I say ‘demonstrable’, because by Brewster’s own admission, it’s not ready for prime time, but the demonstration was enough to make my head spin with the possibilities.  But you don’t really want to know that, so let me do my best to just report what I saw.

Let’s start from the beginning…

Tonight, Brewster Kahle, Internet Archive Founder and Chief Librarian, introduced what he calls his “BookServer” project.  BookServer is a framework of tools and activities. It is an open-architectured set of tools that allow for the discoverability, distribution, and delivery of electronic books by retailers, librarians, and aggregators, all in a way that makes for a very easy and satisfying experience for the reader, on whatever device they want.

Now that may sound fairly innocuous, but let me try to walk through what was announced, and demonstrated  (Please forgive me if some names or sequences are wrong, I’m trying to do this all from memory):

  • Brewster announced that the number of books scanned at libraries all over the world has increased over the past year from 1 million books to 1.6 million books.
  • He then announced that all of these 1.6 million books were available in the ePub format, making them accessible via Stanza on the iPhone, on Sony Readers, and many other reading devices in a way that allows the text to re-flow if the font has been changed.
  • Next he announced that not only were these files available in ePub form, but that they were available in the “Daisy” format as well.  Daisy is the format used to create Braille and Text to Speech software interpretations of the work.
  • There were other statistics he cited related to other mediums such as 100,000 hours of TV recordings, 400,000 music recordings, and 15 billion (yes it’s a ‘b’) web pages that have been archived.
  • He then choreographed a series of demonstrations.  Raj Kumar from Internet Archive demonstrated how the BookServer technology can deliver books  to the OLPC (One Laptop per Child) XO laptop, wirelessly.  There are 1 million of these machines in the hands of underprivileged children around the world, and today they just got access to 1.6 million new books.
  • Michael Ang of IA then demonstrated how a title in the Internet Archive which was available in the MOBI format could be downloaded to a Kindle – from outside the Kindle store – and then read on the Kindle.  Because many of these titles were in the Mobi format as well, Kindle readers everywhere also have access to IA’s vast database.
  • Next up, Mike McCabe of IA, came up and demonstrated how files in the Daisy format could be downloaded to a PC then downloaded to a device from Humana, specifically designed for the reading impaired.  The device used Text-to-speech technology to deliver the content, but what was most amazing about this device was the unprecedented ease at which a sight impaired person could navigate around a book, moving from chapter to chapter, or to specific pages in the text.
  • Brewster took a break from the demonstrations  to elaborate a couple of facts, the most significant of which was the fact the books in the worlds libraries fall into 3 categories. The first category is public domain, which accounts for 20% of the total titles out there – these are the titles being scanned by IA.  The second category is books that are in print and still commercially viable, these account for 10% of the volumes in the world’s libraries.  The last category are books that are “out of print” but still in copyright.  These account for 70% of the titles, and Brewster called this massive amount of information the “dead zone” of publishing.  Many of these are the orphan titles that we’ve heard so much about related to the Google Book Settlement – where no one even knows how to contact the copyright holder.  (To all of my friends in publishing, if you let these statistics sink in for a minute, your head will start to spin).
  • Brewster went on to talk about how for any digital ecosystem to thrive, it must support not just the free availability of information, but also the ability for a consumer to purchase, or borrow books as well.
  • At this point, Michael came back out and demonstrated – using the bookserver technology – the purchase of a title from O’Reilly on the Stanza reader on the iPhone – direct from O’Reilly – not from Stanza.  If you are a reader, you may think that there is nothing too staggering about that, but if you are a publisher, this is pretty amazing stuff.  Stanza is supporting the bookserver technology, and supporting the purchase of products direct from publishers or any other retailer using their technology as a delivery platform.  (Again, friends in publishing, give that one a minute to sink in.)
  • The last demonstration was not a new one to me, but Raj came back on and he and Brewster demonstrated how using the Adobe ACS4 server technology, digital books can be borrowed, and protected from being over borrowed from libraries everywhere.  First Brewster demonstrated the borrowing process, and then Raj tried to borrow the same book but found he couldn’t because it was already checked out.  In a tip of the hat to Sony, Brewster then downloaded his borrowed text to his Sony Reader.  This model protects the practice of libraries buying copies of books from publishers, and only loaning out what they have to loan. (Contrary to many publishers fears that it’s too easy to “loan” unlimited copies of e-Books from libraries).
  • In the last piece of the night’s presentation, Brewster asked many of the people involved in this project to come up and say a few words about why they were here, and what motivated them to be part of the project.  The sheer number of folks that came out were as impressive as the different constituencies they represented.  By the end of this the stage was full of people, including some I know, like Liza Daly (Three Press), Mike Tamblyn (Shortcovers), and Andrew Savikas (O’Reilly).  Others, I didn’t know included Hadrien Gradeur (Feedbooks), the woman who invented the original screen for the OLPC, a published author, a librarian from the University of Toronto, Cartwright Reed from Ingram, and a representative from Adobe.

After the night was over, I walked all the way back to the Marina district where I was staying.  The opportunities and implications of the night just absolutely made my head spin.  I am completely humbled to be asked to be here and to witness this event.

In one fell swoop, the Internet Archive expanded the availability of books to millions of people who never had access before, bringing knowledge to places that had never had it.  Who knows what new markets that will create, or more importantly what new minds will contribute to our collective wisdom as a result of that access.  In the same motion, Brewster demonstrated a world where free can coexist with the library borrowing model, and with the commercial marketplace.  Protecting the interests of both of those important constituencies in this ecosystem.  He also, in the smoothest of ways, portrayed every ‘closed system’ including our big retail friends and search engine giants, as small potatoes.

I will have to post again about the implications of all this, but people smarter than me – many of whom I was able to meet today, will be far more articulate about what just happened.  I’m still too blown away.  I know this, it was a ‘game changer’ day.  It may take a couple of years to come to full fruition, but we will be able to pinpoint the spot in history when it was all shown to be possible.  I need to thank Peter Brantley for inviting (or should I say tempting) me to be there. Wow.

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Addendum to original post:

Matt Supko contacted me today and offered a note of clarification regarding the ABA/Indiebound’s plans for an IB iPhone app eBook purchasing option:

At no point has ABA been in direct partnership with Lexcycle.  We had been planning to use a publicly documented protocol which any developer may use ( http://www.lexcycle.com/booksellers ) to send ebooks to Stanza for reading.  Those plans are now under review. Otherwise, our ebook strategy remains unaffected.

Again, we’ll be in touch when we have something exciting to announce!

- Matt Supko, Web Content Coordinator, American Booksellers Association

Book curation is much on my mind lately. And it’s also on the minds of some of my favorite people.

Thanks to #AmazonFail, we now know that we can’t believe everything we find in search is everything there is to find. Automated lists based on alogrithms and key words work quite well to a point, and have their place in the world. But, when it comes to something as specialized as finding a book that will fit my interests and tastes and changing whims — I’d prefer to trust that kind of search to a human being who has made a professional career of matching books to people.

Unfortunately, at the same time that more and more books are finding their way into the world, more and more of the people who help us find our way through the stacks are finding themselves out of work. Ironic? Well, maybe. Depressing? Definitely. And, as not to be all gloom and doom on a Monday, I’m holding the sad stories for Part II of this 2-part post.

Today is all about the hope and happiness — and you can’t beat the ABA iPhone App for happy!

IndieBound on Call!

IndieBound on Call!

The awesome IndieBound for iPhone app announced early last week is my new best friend. It’s like having my favorite indie bookseller at my beck and call, ‘cuz with it I can:

  • Browse indie bookseller recommendation lists (The Indie Next List, The Kids Indie Next List) and bestseller lists (The Indie Bestseller Lists)
  • Search for books from a comprehensive database of in-print titles
  • Review detailed book information
  • Buy books online from indie bookstores
  • Find local, indie bookstores nearby, or across the United States
  • Find other independently-owned businesses, like coffee shops, movie theaters, and bicycle stores

After downloading and trying it out, I simply had to talk with Matt Supko, Web Content Coordinator for the American Booksellers Association and the guy behind this very cool app, and find out how it came to be:

KM: When did the idea for the IndieBound iphone app first originate, and how long did it take from start to finish to get it created/approved by Apple/and officially launched?

MS: Probably the first mention of an IB for iPhone app goes all the way back to last summer, but we didn’t decide to really jump on it until early December. I worked on it in my spare time from December through March (I do a lot of other stuff for ABA, too!). The backend, web service stuff was easy to do, but to make the app itself I had to teach myself Objective-C–that took a while! Then we had a beta test with some booksellers and some publishers and everybody in the office with iPhones frantically trying to break it. It went to Apple early this month; came out on Monday.

KM: What has reaction been among IndieBound bookseller members; iphone owners; and tech trade pundits/reviewers of new apps?

MS: Booksellers have basically said: “Thank you.” They’re excited, whether they have iPhones or not, because they recognize how large a market this is and what the future potential for independent booksellers is in the mobile marketplace. I think it caught a lot of people by surprise, even though Avin let it slip in his address back at Winter Institute. My goal was to make an app that was fast and fun to use, and everyone I’ve seen who has actually *used* the app has agreed that it came out well. We’ve had very positive reviews in the App Store so far, and I’m pleased that most people seem to immediately get what the app is all about.

KM: Rumor has it you will be adding ebook purchasing capability/access — can you elaborate, or is it still being worked out?

MS: Sure. ABA’s E-Commerce Solution is working feverishly right now on ebook functionality for members’ websites. This will be a complete, robust ebook solution with availability in multiple formats–notably Palm (eReader) and ePub–etc. Concurrently with this, we’ll release an updated version of the iPhone app that adds ebook search functionality and an “also available as an ebook” feature to relevant titles on the book lists. Users will also have access through the IB app to ebooks they have purchased on any ABA E-Commerce Website. Ebooks will download directly into Lexcycle’s popular Stanza app for reading.

I can’t give you an ETA, but it’ll be ready sooner than you think. I think it’s worth pointing out that, with the exception of Stanza, most other ebook solutions for iPhone (Fictionwise’s eReader, Amazon’s Kindle app) also currently require you to purchase on your computer, then sync to the phone. Further down the road, we’re planning to integrate ebook purchasing directly into the app as well, avoiding the hop to Safari.

KM: Philosophically, what is the ultimate goal of the IndieBound App, and does IndieBound have other such innovations in the pipeline?

MS: The goal of the IndieBound app is the same as the goal of the whole IndieBound movement: to raise awareness of the importance of shopping local, and to call attention to the vast curating expertise of independent booksellers. That’s really where I feel our niche is in the App Store right now. There are plenty of apps that will let you search for books, but if you don’t know what you’re looking for, they’re not going to be much help. Our app does both: it includes a search, and carefully-curated book recommendations. And that’s what we’ll continue to focus on even as we add additional functionality to the app. Do we have other innovations in the pipeline? Of course!

***

I, for one, am incredibly impressed. No, it’s not the same thing as shopping/browsing AT an indie bookstore, and you can’t get that sense of community via an app, but it’s a really great way to take some of the expertise housed in our wonderful bookstores and make it more widely available.  Check out the IndieBound app for yourself - but be warned — it can lead to major book shopping!

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