Amazon: The Big, Bad Wolf

We all know the story of the big bad wolf, whether from Little Red Riding Hood, or The Three Little Pigs. It is a trope in morality tales going back farther than all of our lifetimes. The big, bad wolf is a deceitful, predatory, sneaky, and viciously intelligent creature that eats grandma and blows the house down. In recent years, the big bad wolf for the publishing industry is Amazon.

Amazon, the reason bookstores are closing, the reason publishers go broke. Capitalism in the form of a big, bad wolf, slowly destroying publishers big and small (huffing and puffing) and putting bookstores everywhere out of business (eating Red Riding Hood’s grandma for breakfast). It is an apt metaphor, and I would argue that publishers, or perhaps better to say the publishing industry, are those three little pigs, still living in straw houses, who need to find some bricks and build houses that that big, bad wolf cannot huff, and puff and blow down.

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The Future of Scholarly Monographs in a Rapidly-Changing Publishing Landscape


Over the past few decades, the world of publishing has witnessed many remarkable revolutions, transforming the face of the entire book industry today. The widespread developments include not only changes in the nature of the production, packaging and distribution of text, but also new policies and tools promoting free, instant access to knowledge and information.These developments present both opportunities and challenges for certain book genres and their producers, especially those within the scholarly community. One branch of scholarly publishing whose future seems to have been rendered uncertain in the midst of these shifts is the monograph, with a number of scholars and market analysts (Steele, 2008; Anderson, 2013; Kwan, 2013; Todd, 2014) predicting a bleak future for the monograph, owing to the rise and growth of other forms of scholarship (such as journals) and digital publishing technologies (such as e-book publishing, open access), amid changes in reading culture as well as soaring production cost of monographs.

But do these emergent trends really spell doom for monographs as many predict? If yes, why and how? If no, how are players in the field currently adjusting to these shifts, and what hurdles and possibilities exist for saving and enhancing the future of the monograph in the new publishing landscape? These are some of the pertinent questions I will be addressing in this paper, which seeks to analyse the impact and implications of emerging paradigms in publishing and communication for the monograph.    Continue reading “The Future of Scholarly Monographs in a Rapidly-Changing Publishing Landscape” 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, 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


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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