Tag Archives: publishing

Digital Supplement from ALA

ALA Digital Supplement – Check out the document to read more on eBooks in libraries, statistics, info and more… Good read, it’s a start for understanding challenges and seeing where things are at…

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Demand for better eBook Services

So over at the Digital Shift you can read the full article, I won’t bother to go through the whole thing. I think the whole idea is and will be a failure causing nothing more than larger rifts and a greater escalation of animosity between pubs and libs. Argue against if you want, but trust me, anyone who says they are both playing nice and really striving hasn’t heard of the cat and mouse approach to things.

What I want to do is look at the 4 demands the libraries are making, because some of them are just plain wonky, I’ll explain why.

Demands:

1. Search and browse a single comprehensive catalog with all of a library’s offerings at once, including all e-books, physical collections, programs, blogs, and donor opportunities. Currently, content providers often only allow searches within the products they sell, depriving users of the comprehensive library experience.

  • To be honest a large chunk of this is the libraries responsibilities, not the pubs. If you own content in your library, your search portal should handle the searching across your collections and content you own, not the pub. If the pub wants to provide an api to allow for access into their catalog to find more content, great, but can your lib system handle it? Have you heard of patron drive acquisition, this same thing is accomplished somewhat with that. A large dump of records, users don’t know if you own them or not, but they are discoverable. Seems to be a mix of what a library is suppose to do and what a publisher does and what a vendor of services does.
 2. Place holds, check-out items, view availability, manage fines and receive communications within individual library catalogs or in the venue the library believes will serve them best, without having to visit separate websites (libraries, not distributors, should be enabled to manage all interactions with users).
  • This makes no sense in some respects this demands list is going back and forth with pubs and distributors. Some of these services are provided by ILS systems, some by distributors, but not all by one. There is a reason vendors of products focus on specific offerings and services, it’s what they do best and why get involved in everything, not a good business plan. 
 3. Seamlessly enjoy a variety of e-content. To do this, libraries must be able to choose content, devices and apps from any provider or from multiple providers, without bundling that limits a library’s ability to serve content they purchase on platforms of their choice.
  • This is more of a making sure the content is in either epub or mobi for kindles. Plus it brings up a whole issue of what is an eBook? Is it the pdf documents, is it website content that isn’t a database. You need to define these before you can say support this, we need it when you don’t really know what you need or want. PDF is horrible on small devices, so then does the vendor need to offer it in epub or mobi as well, if so, how does that figure into cost and backend systems and do they want to support a format not ideal for smaller mobile devices. Saying we want this is great, but does it make sense?
 4. Download e-books that are compatible with all readers, from the Kindle to the Nook to the iPad and so on.
  • This is really wonky and makes me think whomever wrote it didn’t bother to really think about it. If the eBook is in epub, it works on all readers, just to varying degrees depending on the device, app, etc. Kindle mobi files can be read on the ipad in the kindle app,plus kindle isn’t only the device but the platform, so a parameter needs to be set by what is meant. Therefore with the iPad alone, you would be covered for reading any formats. For the nook or fire to support different formats, well that’s the device manufacturers discretion, not something the pub forces or has a hand in. Plus all readers, seriously, know how many apps and devices that are out there, a pub nor vendor of eBooks will be able to supply a file that looks and acts exactly the same on each device, too much crap out there. 
The biggest problem I have with the overall demands aspect is that it is a gimme gimme gimme and no matter what side you fall on, we all know that it means failure. I’ve said it before, will say it again, both pub and libraries and vendors need to talk about what really matters and give up some and take some, no 100% satisfaction will bubble up, just not possible.
The other part of this is something I have thought about and come back to, the “we need to do x like we did with print.” To fully achieve eBooks in libraries, here’s what needs to be done, scrap every thought and model you have, especially for trade, academic and research is actually pretty good, then start over… Yep, DUMP IT ALL. The reason for this is simple, eBooks are not print, print titles are not eBooks, eBooks should, can and will be more then print. So the minute I hear eBooks are great, but with print…. I stop listening, Why? Because it doesn’t matter. Print is print and eBooks are eBooks, they are not the same and when we stop trying to stick things from print in eBooks we’ll be better off. Content wise, yes, let’s add or enhance in eBooks, Inter-library loans were meant for print, not eBooks, let it go. I don’t care the argument, they served a purpose in the print world and still do, but for eBooks, they make no sense.
Libraries want eBooks in the most widely used or offered format and that works well so they don’t have to deal with complaints or tech issues, makes sense, then demand that ePub and mobi are used for the eBook format, not pdf. How do you change this with pubs, stop buying the content. Realize that whatever you do, is for the patrons, not because of some cause or petition or something else, you are using taxpayer money for a lot of this, no matter how you slice it, somewhere, somehow tax money pays for it all, unless you have a wealthy benefactor. What this means is that boycotting because of usage, isn’t the answer. Yes, I said to not buy if not in the format, because that limits accessibility, etc. The usage models are something that need to be scrapped, we all know that, but at least people are trying with them.
There are vendors that will promise you the world, especially with trade titles, ed titles etc. Many of them don’t have a clue, they are simply a sell through for the pubs content and have no idea, there readers are skinned adobe digital editions and most don’t understand what an eBook is, does, how it is created or how it is used. I’ve worked with libraries for about 15 years, maybe longer in a variety of ways. Collection development, acquisitions, workflows, explaining what an eBook is when they hit in libraries and people started working with them. I can tell you that there are just as many pubs and distributors and vendors that have no clue as their are librarians. It’s not a slam, not by any chance, what it is is a reflection of poor information, or jumping on a bandwagon. ALA is no embraced with knowledge on eBooks then some of the average people on the street. Having worked with a variety of the vendors out there and many larger universities, public libraries, k12 systems, curriculum people, I can honestly say that many are still feeling around. It’s not a bad thing, admitting you don’t know is fine, better then just following the crowd when it doesn’t make sense.
These demands though, stating they must be followed to achieve such and such is ridiculous. If they do happen, it’ll only be to appease libraries for a short time while the next change in the eBook world takes place and we’ll be back to square one. I said this once before, to achieve anything of eBooks and libraries, they both need to come to the table, not ALA, but other librarians and people that actually know what they are talking about and bring your list of wants. Don’t call them must haves, or needs or any of that junk, say this is what we want, how do we get there? Then the pub has their same list of wants and then you both knock 50% off your lists and realize from that 50% remaining on each list, you’ll probably only get 50% of that, so 25% from each side…. It’s better then nothing and achieves more then ultimatums and demands…

Library Report on E-Book Lending: Publishers and Libraries Don’t Understand Each Other | Digital Book World

Library Report on E-Book Lending: Publishers and Libraries Don’t Understand Each Other | Digital Book World.

 

The discussion between libraries and publishers about eBooks is one that will always be ongoing. Now we all know that the disconnect has been there for some time, not surprising, at least if you have been paying attention for the last decade or more. This isn’t a blame game, it’s no one entities fault, it’s actually everyones fault. Nobody wanted to admit it, at least not in the open. They kept pushing policies, trying things out, complaining about each other, but nobody has really said, “Hey, we don’t have a clue.” Now this isn’t one sided, this is all sides.

Having worked with libraries all over the U.S., on all levels, all types for well over a decade, I can honestly say this isn’t a surprise the disconnect exists. I’m also not siding on anyones side… not because I don’t surport anyone, but because in all honesty, it’s both sides fault. Now neither will admit that, neither will step up and say, “Yes, we know were disconnected from the reality that exists, how do we fix it?” That day happens, someone call me, I’ll buy a round for the first one to do so at a conference some time. The problem is easy, everyone finds it easier to complain or pass the blame around. Nobody wants to say they screwed up or give in, that sign of weakness thing. They’d rather take their ball home and not play with anyone.

I’ve said this for quite a few years, in order for libraries and publishers to get on the same page for eBooks and other areas, they need to remove themselves from the equation. Neither can be agnostic about the view, they don’t want to budge and they have the wrong people having the conversation. CEOs or others at pubs and head of ALA aren’t in the trenches every day, not a slam, just a point of fact. When I started selling eBooks to libraries many asked the same question, how do I use this with my kindle? Know why they asked that, that’s all they knew, kindle, amazon, it was ridiculous, who wants to read a textbook on a kindle e-ink? You know who, NOBODY, zero, zilch, nada, not a single student. That’s not me saying it, it was every librarian who asked me that question who I went back to and discussed it with afterwards.

What many people don’t think about is that a one size fits all approach to eBooks for libraries doesn’t exist, can’t exist. Simple reason being that we have such a variety of library types, that a single model shouldn’t exist. Also, were dealing with multitudes of content; fiction, research, articles, reference, study aides, the list goes on. You cannot say this will work for all, when you think this way you ultimately lose sight of the purpose of the library and the patrons using it, no matter the type of library you are.

Sure we know part of the issue is license or access to the content. We also have DRM,restricting usage. Some of the fears I can understand, I said understand, not that I support them. Pubs are worried libraries will take a digital copy and just let it go like wildfire. Rightfully so, I know many that would do that. Libraries think that they should only have to buy 1 of the digital copy, which is extremely odd to me, when multiple copies of a print edition is bought, why not with digital? Even if you pay more, but get unlimited access and say buy 50 copies of the eBook that is still cheaper then 50 print, why no do it? I think it’s because we have become a society where we want it cheap and we want it fast, easy and no strings attached, which is wrong. Sure some eBooks are cheaper to produce, some aren’t and their still is a return on investment that pubs want with digital. It comes quicker, but it’s still there, think of enhanced eBooks.
Possible Outcomes
What I see happening is that some eBooks may not be available as eBooks themselves. Publishers may pull them back and create an app for an entity of titles, maybe by the same author or content that is the same. They do that, you’ll be buying apps instead.

Or the boycotts continue, which lets admit is a knee jerk reaction and one that won’t really solve anything. Not to mention, you have now taken content from your users, the same users that pay the taxes for you to buy the content. They are not being served, they have now lost access. Pubs need to pay attention to this and get things back on track, but everything is pretty much going to get ugly, just wait for ALA, it’ll be an interesting conference this year.

In the end what’s going to help, honest conversations, none of this we want and they want. It needs to be here’s a list from both of needs, wants, etc. Then be prepared to scrap about 50% of it and give in on that much, because there is no way that one is going to walk away with the larger percentage of their list intact, just can’t happen.


DBW11:

So after missing last year’s DBW (Digital Book World) I was able to attend this years. I didn’t make it to all the sessions, ended up in a lot of meetings and connecting with people from twitter, linkedin and other places that I have had conversations about publishing. Overall it was great, I was able to meet many in the publishing industry I either talk with on a regular basis via social media or follow via their blog, websites, tweets or some other way.  I was really impressed by the attitude of those there, it was energetic, fast paced and people were quite positive in regards to the state of publishing and it’s future. I think this is great, it’s exactly what is needed, passionate people involved in what they love.

Obviously not everything is rainbows and sunshine in the industry nor was it at the conference. It wasn’t the conference itself I had issues with it was the texas two steps some of these heads of publishing did around questions. Specifically about eBooks and libraries, the messages were great spins on basically them saying we have no clue but we aren’t going to ask you or anyone with knowledge about how to implement it in the best way.  Now I understand, you are the head of a publisher, your expected to know everything, but you know what, you don’t and you never will. You need to realize that there are people smarter then you out there that know what they are talking about. You want to work with eBooks and libraries? You want to understand how best to get your content in front of those eyes at public libraries, k12 schools and the list goes on? Simple, hire me… No seriously, get a hold of me and I help you implement, my fees are reasonable. 🙂 Now normally I don’t pimp myself out this way but I’ve sat and watched, listened and commented many times on eBooks and libraries, I even have a group on linkedin – eBooks in Libraries devoted to digital and libraries. Why, because I still believe they hold a place in the digital world and I’ve seen what many libraries throughout the U.S. spend on eBooks, it’s crazy. You know why, because patrons want them.  I understand it’s about profit, ROI, where to take a chance, all of that, but pushing it further and further out will only do one thing.. backfire on you and lose sales, no ROI and the list goes on.

Now that I got that out of my system, I feel much better. I’m a passionate person by nature and even more so when it comes to literature, publishing, eBooks and education.  I’ve worked with all of these areas well over a 15 years, which is saying something since I consider myself still pretty you, mid 30’s. I met many other people passionate at DBW, I mean, why not, that’s the point of the conference in my opinion, bringing together passionate people that want to change the course of the industry. Lead it, develop it and being on the edge of thinking within the industry… that excites the hell out of me honestly. The people I met, such as Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Laura Dawson (although only briefly, my fault), Scott Walker, Babette Ross, Dan Wallek (lerner publishing), Liza Daly, Susan Neuhaus, Tina Henderson, Joshua Tallent, Colleen Cunningham, Andy Weissberg and the list goes on. These are people who want to understand better, form relationships and most of all, they want to do it right. They don’t cut corners and they are some of the most passionate people who are vocal about things. They get involved and they help others, which isn’t something you see in many industries, usually everyone is trying to take everyone else down, I think were all above that and realize that we can’t do it alone and we need each other, helps drive us all to do better and innovate.

Now this list isn’t extensive, I could go on and on and there are so many more I would have loved to connect with, need a day just for that. At the end though I was more excited and felt like I wasn’t the only one out there with these crazy ideas that publishing will still survive and that it isn’t dead.. some parts maybe, but I believe those needed to be changed years ago and were just now admitting it. 2011 is a year that I think will really reflect and affect the publishing industry like no other, because people aren’t sitting back and letting publishing decide the course, were pushing the course and guiding the industry and in some respects that hasn’t been done in many many years. There are innovators out there that are not happy with the status quo, I’m one of them, I don’t like stagnant and I don’t like no or having things put in a box, it shouldn’t be done any more in publishing. You need to be diverse, flexible and a hell of a risk taker; think that’s why I started another company and have a business partner and looking to challenge what is perceived as the way to do things. I think that is why many people have done the same way, they aren’t seeing it done some where else and figure if it needs to be done, then we do it ourselves. We build the stage and become our own starts so to speak,  write our own stories, be our characters…. have I thrown in enough cliches yet for your liking?

In the end publishing will still be here, being led by the innovators and those out of the box thinkers some call crazy, I call them my colleagues and some friends. Who wants to go rock publishing’s world?

 

 


Why publishing will march on…

Publishing is a business like any other, it has its ups and downs, sometimes more so than others. However, I wholeheartedly believe that it will succeed and not only succeed but I see a change coming in the very near future. Now this isn’t merely a post to appease to publishers, far from it… they’ve done some stupid things in the past and probably will again, that’s the way things work.  Yet, I can’t help but be optimistic about its future and what is coming.  For a little background I’ve been in publishing in a variety of roles, majority of it sales, for almost 15 years now both in the retail area and in the education market working with every library imaginable.  I’ve seen a lot, both good and bad, but who doesn’t in any industry?

The reasons I see publishing succeeding is that we have a variety of passionate people out there that are trying to make a change whether the publishers want it or not. That’s awesome, we need those people, I’d lump myself into that category… although I don’t have a lot of pull, I’m still passionate about it, because of what publishing means, can mean and why we need it, to keep stories, history, knowledge around. I like the internet as much as anyone else, but we all have to admit, the info is only as good as the source and a lot of times, it’s pretty crappy.  When I said there are passionate and vocal people out there in publishing, I’m not kidding.  In fact, here’s a list, now it’s not extensive and if you feel I left someone out, tell me and I’ll add them… I didn’t compile a list simply for the fact that it could be a post within itself. The industry needs to see who is busting their ass to save it and keep it going and make sure that it changes directions when it needs to.  The biggest fail that any publisher can do is to not hire passionate people who love books, the printed word, the digital word and those that think so far out of the box it scares the hell out of you.  Publishers need to do this, they need to find these people, hire them, pay them well.. this is key, you get what you pay for, pay lower and those with the high talent either won’t want to work with you or will not be as great at their job as they could be.  What’s the problem with that, pay someone well and show them you believe in their worth and what they do, its common sense really.

I’d love to do a list of everyone but it might be easier to say follow the people who are on twitter #DBW hastag, or #ePrdctn or #ISBNhour.  Follow these conversations and many more like them and you’ll see who they are that have a passion for the publishing industry. Follow me on twitter and you’ll find many of these innovators and optimists, I follow them, you might want to as well.

Now the reasons that publishing will survive thrive are tied to these people or those like them.  People that want to turn the tanker of publishing around and are trying to find ways to do it that aren’t just to make a quick buck but that build sustainability and allow for growth year over year which is necessary.  Publishers need to take chances and let those that have the unique views run with ideas and concepts, you never know what might happen.  Too many times, the bean counters are running pub houses; which influences editing, acquiring materials and so on, it shouldn’t be that way, you need people who say I love publishing in all of its facets and let’s shake things up.  Granted that big tanker of publishing is slow-moving, but you have to start somewhere and realize that if you are afraid to try it, then you should try it… because sitting by and doing the same old thing time after time and not having any results, that’s just crazy people, not the good kind of crazy, the other kind. eBooks are one way out, we also have apps now and transmedia, an ever developing model and the list goes on. There are options, we don’t need to say only this way or that way, why not try them all or experiment with them and see what works for your company or project.  Let the innovators do their thing…innovate and come up with ideas, no matter how batty they may sound, ingenuity and creativity more than ever now needs to be at the forefront and publishers, customers and everyone involved needs to have a voice.  All of these items I mention are what will keep publishing going, keep it creating and make it successful.

What are your thoughts though? Digital Book World has asked this many times, where do you see publishing going? What are you afraid of? What excites you? Who excites you in publishing? Find these ideas, concepts, people, companies and talk to them, listen, watch and take away an idea.  Publishing isn’t dead, it’s in a fun house of mirrors trying to find its way out, so why not crack a few mirrors and maybe help show the way. If you don’t agree, tell me what you think are the reasons it will fail if you believe so or what do you see it needs to do to thrive and keep going.


eBooks, eBooks, eBooks

More & more discussion is being had on twitter, websites, blogs, and pretty much any place talking about eBooks and ISBNs.  You know ISBNs, the numbers on the back of the book, now on the inside of an eBook in the front matter; or whatever you call the area you place it.  The biggest question comes as; How many isbns does a book need?  Good question, answer, who the hell knows anymore.  The problem or proverbial monkey wrench in the eBook and isbn discussion comes in the form of distributors. Continue reading


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