Indesign Secrets Events
Tools of Change Round-up Day 3
I started my last day at TOC with a session called Outside the Book Publishing Box by Albert Kurniadi and Ken Huang (MagMe Media Inc.) MagMe is an integrated digital publishing and advertising platform on which you will be able to read a variety of magazines and other publications. MagMe will offer iPhone and iPad applications via Adobe AIR. MagMe isn’t available yet, but you can sign up for the public beta. MagMe’s functions include integrated video, audio, shopping links, smart bookmarks, offline mode, and social features like commenting and sharing. The idea is that you can do everything within the one app, not have to use your browser or various apps from several different publishers to read all your favorite stuff.
PubFactory is online publishing platform in which you can select any content in a database, and quickly create a customized ePub document & downloaded to your ePub reader of choice.
Poem Flow is poem-of-the day application for iPhones and iPods that offers two distinct reading modes. If you hold the device in Portrait view, you get regular scrollable text. But if you turn the device to Landscape, the poem flows in a gently animated “reading movie.” I admit I haven’t read much poetry since college, but I downloaded Poem Flow to my iPod, and enjoyed it as a calm shelter from the endless datalanche of Mail, Facebook, Tweetdeck, etc. The other interesting thing about Poem Flow is that everyone receives the same poem on the same day and the app tells you the location of the last person to download the poem. It also has an About This Poem screen to give you some background info plus sharing functions for Facebook, Twitter, and email.
EverPub is a service that creates search engine optimized book microsites for authors and publishers. The idea is that with good SEO, your landing page will come out on top of Amazon and B&N when people search for your book, and you can keep them there with all the info they want and the buying opportunity in one place.
In Integrating an Ebook with the Internet D.C. Denison (The Boston Globe) described his experiences creating and selling the ebook E-Publishers to Watch: 2010. This is an ongoing project, as the book isn’t finished yet, and D.C. is tinkering and experimenting with different ideas as he goes through the process of constructing a website as he writes the book.
Next up was Book Meets Tablet: 10 Ways to Enhance Your iPad Books by Peter Meyers (A New Kind of Book). This session offered lots of “outside the box” ideas for extending the meaning of a “book. ” Since ebooks don’t have many of the limitations of a static bound pile of paper, you should really let your imagination run free and create entirely new structures, tools, and genres to enhance the reading experience. And the iPad with it’s big color screen and Apple slickness will be a fertile place for the fruits of your imagination to take root. The overarching theme was to create new features that no one has seen before to engage readers and keep them engaged in the attention-deficit world. Some ideas were fairly simple and practical, like ubiquitous character notes in fiction. So you could always click on a character’s name and get a mini-bio in case you forgot who they were. Other ideas included a neat rethinking of notes and commenting features, and some weird and wonderful reimaginings of tables of contents, including one where a table of contents was like a side-scrolling video game with locales where people could enter different parts of the book. There were plenty of other things that you’d have to see to believe, like 3D spinning “mood cubes” of content, screencasting short fiction, chat novels, and renegade content (in which animated sidebars literally fly into the main column and break apart the text to subvert it). I got the feeling that once the iPad has been around for a while, reading will be weirder than we can imagine at this point.
My last session was Agile Publishing Model by Dave Thomas (Pragmatic Programmers, LLC), Andrew Hunt (Pragmatic Programmers, LLC). These guys boast they can “run our entire business anywhere there’s a network connection and a decent pot of coffee,” and I believe them. They have no office, no servers, and almost no fixed costs. Everything is in the Cloud. Dave and Andrew have created an almost entirely automated publishing system, that showcases the power of an XML workflow. This efficiency allows them to pay the highest royalties in the industry, and remain profitable. They don’t sell through Amazon or the Apple App store because they don’t want to give away that customer relationship to “Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs.” Their authors write in XML, and the structured text can be instantly output to any kind of ebook or PDF for print. Dave said that watching an earlier demo at TOC of how many manual steps were required to get ebook code out of InDesign made him weep. To be sure, the success of this automated system relies in part on the fact that their authors can reliably produce manuscript in valid XML, and their book designs are structured and predictable. Most other publishers aren’t quite so lucky to find themselves at the nexus of Awesome and Automation. But props to these guys for fully exploiting their workflow advantages.
I also loved Pragmatic Programmers use of “social DRM.” All their books are DRM-free, but they do things like put the purchaser’s name at the bottom of every page, as a gentle reminder of who is entitled to be reading the book. They also sell “beta books”, i.e. unfinished manuscript. So if you really can’t wait for a book to be finished, you can buy it before it’s done and follow along with the author’s progress toward a complete product.
That was it for me at TOC. I had a bus to catch and missed out on the afternoon sessions. However, I still have more TOC content to share. I conducted a few interviews which I hope to share soon. I’ll post the links to the publicly available videos, and other material I’ve gathered via Twitter. And I have more notes and ideas for future posts on the cutting edge of publishing tech. But for now, it’s TOC-ya later.
- Date: 05/25/2013