The digital publishing of ebooks and apps is still very much in its infancy, as is the provision of software to make this easier. Yet there is a major problem already obvious, the costing models for production software.
Publishers are used to a buy and use model for the software we use. We are very used to buying the Adobe Creative Suite or Quark Xpress and then, once we have bought it, the only cost is when we want to upgrade to the latest model. Nobody pays a fee per print magazine published or per book published. And frankly I doubt if any publisher would do so. Software is like office furniture; you buy it once and then keep using it.
But too many of the producers of software for digital publishing, whether it is Adobe, Quark or one of the myriad smaller companies, have a different model in mind. They want to either charge you per book design or magazine issue, per issue or book sold or a combination of both. For them it makes great sense – they create an on-going revenue stream. But for a publisher this is a disaster. It means that the production costs of a title may no longer be fixed, it may continue to grow as long as it is available for purchase. This could make publishing a back catalogue of titles that may sell little but, if you have enough of them out there, might provide a reasonable revenue stream. Not so if there is a yearly cost of continuing to offer each title. Now of course they’ll probably justify this in terms of the provision of server space for things like in-app purchase, or such like. But we all know that server space is now ludicrously cheap, or even free. When two to seven gigabytes of online file sharing storage is available for nothing from many sources it becomes very hard to justify on-going fees. And in many situations there is no need to providing hosting since they are hosted by the Apple Store or Amazon.
Until the developers of these tools realise that there is going to be on-going resistance from publishers to anything other than an outright buy the software and use it as you will model there will be continued resistance to these tools. Sure iBooks Author only outputs to the Apple Store, but it is free. Let’s hope Amazon provide something similar for interactive books on the Kindle Fire. We can hope that some enlightened company will produce something that is cross platform and can just be bought outright, and used at will.
No sensible person minds paying for upgrades, any sensible businessman resists bringing in a silent partner who requires paying all the time.
Blurb has today announced that they will be providing a publishing option to iPad.
In the first iteration photographers who have used Blurb’s Bookify and BookSmart software will be able to publish in a way that maintains the formatting of the print version.
Emails go out next month with the details and support for photographers who upload a PDF rather than using the Blurb software will come later. It is unclear at the moment about whether this creates something sold through the iBookstore or whether Blurb will have their own app reader. Since they do say that such books will also be for sale through Blurb’s own store, I suspect they are going to be ePubs sold through the iBookstore.
More great news for photographers from the digital revolution in publishing.
An eBook about eBooks seems an oxymoron, but isn’t, at least in this case. For this is an eBook about the whys and wherefores of producing eBooks, and given the rate at which things are changing in this field an eBook makes more sense as it is much easier to update. In fact eBooks like this should really have a version number, like software.
Anyway, to the eBook. Mike is a great bloke (guy, for those who don’t read Australian) and very knowledgeable, and both come across well in this book. In a field where I though I knew a fair bit, I learned things from this book.
The Ebook Ebook is a well written, intelligent and deep coverage of what an eBook is, why you might want to publish one and how to go about doing it. I did disagree slightly with the organisation of a few places, but this is caused by Mike’s conversational style causing him to get ahead of himself in a couple of places. Organisation in a book is highly personal and it obviously works for Mike. It does not distract from the book in any way.
Organised in eleven chapters, the book covers:
What an ebook is
The advantages it offers for writers, publishers and readers
Preparation of an ebook
History of the ebook
Formats and DRM
Marketing of ebooks
The content is up to date, accurate and intelligently presented. I do disagree with Mike about the suitability of the iPad for book reading. Perhaps because I am not one for sitting in the sun anyway (think pasty, overweight nerd 🙂 I find the iPad perfect for all sorts of reading and now choose to take all my magazines and books for the iPad when available for it. It does help to turn the screen brightness down sometimes for comfort.
I can happily recommend this book as an effective and pretty damn well complete eBook on the production of eBooks. I do hope Mike does a 2.0 version as things continue to change, though his supporting websites do a great job of extending the book. Very highly recommended.