Readk.it to the rescue—throwing publishers an ebook buoy

On November 19, 2007, Jeff Bezos and his behemoth of an online bookstore launched the first generation Amazon Kindle in the United States and ultimately announced the future of electronic readers . Despite the fact that other ebook readers—Rocket eBook Reader, Gemstar, Everybook, SoftBook, Librius Millennium Reader, Sony Reader—had previously flopped (Pogue), the Kindle sold out within hours and remained out of stock for several months. The device’s popularity, success, and criticisms inspired the release of subsequent ereaders—such as the second generation Kindle, the Kindle Deluxe (DX) and the Barnes & Noble Nook—in 2009, and, in 2010, Apple raised the stakes with the introduction of the iPad and its iBooks reading app (“E-book”).

As successful as these ereaders and their respective companies have been, from the first moment of the 2007 Kindle launch until the present, book publishers have been struggling to play a game of ‘catch up’ with these titan tech companies. They have been producing ebooks as quickly as possible—adhering to the technology and guidelines dictated to them—and trying as they might to stay afloat in an unfamiliar ocean, constantly inundated with waves of new ebook formats, ereading devices, and public demands. All of which have made it difficult for publishers to create ebooks that are anything more than just digital copies of their print books, something to fill a gap in the marketplace. But with the launch of Readk.it, a digital reading system that requires no allegiance to one specific ereader or company, publishers might actually have a fighting chance to reclaim ebooks as their own.

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Nosy Crow: Lessons Learned From Children’s Book Apps

Nosy Crow has some of the best book apps on the Apple App Store today and they have continued to improve upon their past successes. They have successfully translated some of their picture books into apps. They have also published a line of books exclusively for the iPad that won a multitude of awards for their interactivity and innovative apps. Their Little Red Riding Hood by Nosy Crow app alone has won App Store’s Best Apps of 2013, Parents’ Choice Gold Award, Children’s Technology Review Editor’s Choice Award, and was on The Observer’s 50 Best Apps of 2013 list. But what can other publishers, even non-children’s publishers, learn from this company’s success with book apps? Electronic books are a new and evolving form of reading. Their final form is still unknown. Book apps offer a freedom for creativity and innovation that many of the other electronic book platforms do not allow. Apps allow for room to explore the content with added features to enhance the reading while remaining in a format that is widely available to and trusted by buyers. All publishers can learn from book app creators like Nosy Crow to innovate and test the boundaries of digital books.

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You’re so vain: debunking the self-publishing stigma

Justin Bieber. When a talent scout discovered his homemade videos on YouTube, no one thought, “you’re so vain.” In fact, if imitation is the finest form of flattery, then wanna-be musicians, who began sharing their singing selfies with the world, actually thought him enterprising.

“Long derided as evidence of a self-obsessed generation prone to oversharing, selfies are now being celebrated as a marketing strategy and creative business card.”(Boettcher) This truth is evident in most facets of the cultural industry – with the exception of book publishing. In much the same “vain” as the Biebs, authors are capitalizing on digital technologies that make self-publishing possible; however, while selfies have become perfectly acceptable forms of self-promotion for most artists, authors cannot seem to rid the stigma of vanity that comes with pushing their own work into the public, particularly if they’re paying for it.

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Data Journalism: Adoption at its Slowest

Preamble

I’m having a hell of a time explaining to my friends and family what exactly I’ll be doing at my upcoming internship at Penguin Random House. First, I shout in jubilation, “I’ll be merging the databases of Penguin and Random House!” But then they look at me funny so I say, “I’ll be working on their new website.” Sometimes the light bulb in their head starts to flicker like they get it, but most of the time they just smile and nod. The moral of the story is: nobody marvels at all the different types of lego available; they just want to see what you build from it.

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Why Assign Fictional Characters an ISNI

When the International Organization for Standards (ISO) published the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) in March of 2012, the idea was that it would be used to identify “the millions of contributors to creative works and those active in their distribution, including writers, artists, creators, performers, researchers, producers, publishers, aggregators, and more. … ISNI can be assigned to all parties that create, produce, manage, distribute or feature in creative content including natural, legal, or fictional parties, and is essential to those working in the creative industries for quick, accurate and easy identification.” (ISNI International Agency) Continue reading “Why Assign Fictional Characters an ISNI”

Next Big Thing?: Next Issue and the Future of Magazines

Over 83% of Canada’s population is active online. According to Maclean’s Magazine, along with this, as of November 2013 a strong majority of Canadians use the internet for more than just browsing Facebook or checking the weather—they use it to spend money.

Even though huge amounts of money are being poured into the online marketplace, publishers are still struggling with how to monetize their content online. There does not yet seem to be a best practice for this, thus there is an opening for innovation as publishers struggle to keep up with changing technologies and declining subscription and revenue.

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Video Games as Title Generators – Chronicling the History of Azeroth and More

Amanda Peters

Impressive, eh?

Title generation: the bane of publishers throughout the ages. When you can’t just take anything, what do you take? There are only so many Harry Potters and Lords of the Rings in the world today, and there’s never a guarantee that even the most epic of stories will ever take off, but sometimes all it takes is the ability to make use of something that’s already got a following — something someone else has already taken a risk on, and found to be popular.

Cue video game culture. With series like World of WarcraftAssassin’s CreedStarcraft and Gears of War using their content to generate novelizations of their worlds, histories and lore, publishing has moved into an era where captive audiences can be capitalized on to a degree that consumers hadn’t necessarily anticipated: you’ve played the game, now read the novel–instead of the other way around. Gaming culture isn’t only making the most of literature, but it’s helping us save and garner interest in the novels and authors that stand to continue inspiring people into the future.

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Prototyping is Good for User Experience

By Summer Zhang

Prototype may aptly be defined as an original and working model of a new object and it can also be a new form of the existing product. It is designed such that it may serve as a standard to be referred later. Prototype can take a number of different forms such as it can be a very initial form of a brainstormed idea or it may be a full-scale model of the final product. Additionally, in  both the cases, the purpose of developing a prototype are same, which is to have a firm understanding about the product and also to weight different alternatives about it (Curtis & Vertelney, 1990).  Continue reading “Prototyping is Good for User Experience”

Reader at the Helm: The Active Engagement of Online Reading

Publishers have long struggled with translating print content onto the web. The perception that digital platforms should be consistent with that of the passive print format has been a persistent obstacle to gaining and keeping online readers’ attention. Token attempts to incorporate digital functions have missed the true scale of the web’s potential for content. What the web can offer, and what is seen through a few enterprising websites, is a more integrated effort to build an online community through engagement with readers in a structure designed to embrace the openness of the online world, rather than one shaped by the limiting capacity of print. Publishers need to think beyond the scope of a typical print container, and consider how their content can  best utilize the various options offered by digital technology (O’Leary, 2014). Continue reading “Reader at the Helm: The Active Engagement of Online Reading”

It’s a Metaphor Fool: How mimicry and nostalgia in design have hindered user experience

 

Users are obsessed with mimicry and nostalgic for the past. You can buy a cellphone case that look like a nintendo controller, or a wine glass that looks like a pint glass—but in the end you still have an iPhone and you are still drinking wine.

When it comes to technology we will do everything in our power to maintain some sort of connection to the tangible world. A screen is a window; deleted files go into a trash can; documents look like notebooks on a desk; and saving happens on a floppy disk.

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Unnatural Selection: How Social Curation Weeds Out The Wallflowers

Like most of my fellow “echo boomers”, I grew up listening to The Cure. I spent most of my high school years plotting my escape with their poignant lyrics and heart-rending melodies playing in the background. Less than a handful of songwriters can elicit that overwhelming sense of listlessness, diffidence, and romanticism better than Robert Smith, in my humble opinion. My favourite track has always been “Pictures of You” – where Smith paints the image of a long lost love that breathes new life through his remaining collection of photographs. Coincidentally, one of the first films that I remember seeing as a child was Mannequin, starring 80s heartthrob Andrew McCarthy. The ludicrous plot involves a struggling artist who takes a job as a window-dresser for a department store in Philadelphia. He becomes engrossed with his mannequin (played by Kim Cattrall) – the star and inspiration for his crowd-pleasing displays. His inanimate muse comes to life only for him, and they fall madly in love.

As bizarre as it sounds, these references came to mind when I started to think about the extensive amount of personal and social curation that we employ through web interfaces and interactions. Carefully crafted lists of our photographs, playlists, books, belongings on sale and employment history define our online personas. But have these web entities become a more dominant representation of our actual selves? Have they become our default personality? Are we most alive when we’re online? Worse yet, are our virtual lives  more attractive and exciting than our real ones? Gasp.
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Eye Strain, You Strain, We All Strain for iStrain

A sea of MPub students were hidden behind their laptop screens before the start of class when Senior Lecturer Roberto Dosil asked, “How long do you all spend on your computers?” I peeked my head out and smiled guiltily, not able to think of a time when I was not in front of my computer. Some students were able to say that they made sure to shut it down a couple of hours before bed, or other random times in their day. But for me, the bus, lunch time, and even relaxing before sleep meant a screen. Continue reading “Eye Strain, You Strain, We All Strain for iStrain”