Wednesday, 25 January 2012

“Publishers love affair with apps is over” – Forrester Research.

QUOTES: news from Digital Book World conference.

“Publishers need to look to how self-published authors price their e-books, improve the quality of their digital texts, and can no longer avoid selling direct to the consumer”
“it is becoming harder and harder for publishers to avoid direct sales: customers are “the coin of the realm”

Forrester Reasearch: “Currently 25 million people in the US own an e-reader; 34 million have a tablet; and at least eight million homes have two tablets.  (me - 9 million more own a tablet than own an e-reader!!)

Yet McQuivey (Forrester above) pointed out that publishers' “love affair with apps is over": 51% surveyed said that the cost is too high and just 15% believe that apps represent a significant revenue opportunity.”

And from Guardian: “In record sales across nearly all product categories, Apple sold a record 15.43m iPads over the quarter, more than double a year ago. It sold 5.2m Macs during the quarter, a 26% unit increase.”

What do I take from this?

1. (Obviously) Vertical marketing more and more important. Building a direct publisher /reader feedback and participation interface (community of interest).

2. More tablets in US than e-readers – Apple’s growth phenomenal – others will follow this to compete (wide spectrum tablet devices rather than hard-core flat text e-readers, though these have a definite place for the hard-core reading community – pensioners!). Net-books are collapsing in the face of tablets.

3. Apple’s new textbook drive sold 350,00 in three days. [Suggestion. A special interest publisher (ie. weapons/war) who had a product ready right now might latch onto that feeding frenzy and find a whole new market for their not-strictly educational but fact-based product exploiting the curiosity of the young adult component of that buying group (ie. male students here) if the price is set at mouth-watering level. Who knows?]

4. (Carrying on from McQuivey’s second point, above) Publishers who, only seeing what is in front of their noses, give up on APPS as too expensive, are shutting eyes to the obvious – that others will devise open-source direct-to-market multi-media reading ‘pseudo-apps’ (based on ePub3 etc.) designed for easy access by publishers to compile without having to pay for high cost unique-to-device Apps (even Apple are here ahead of the game in tempting authors with the easy-enhancement-but-binding-to-Apple iAuthor). That the dedicated iPAD APP is only the start of the game. And yet they seem to be dismissing the whole phenomenon, leaving themselves wide open to tech-savvy games- film- and multi-media- enterprises to pull the rug from under them.

5. Reminds me (in a joking loose analogy) of a bunch of sheep (small publishers) in a field with a herd of cows (large publishers) looking across a road to a field of lush grass, saying “We professional cud-munchers are the experts in our field (curating grass).  All we gotta do (sheep) is sneak through this hedge which we can do because we’re small and nimble (we reassure each other) and can take advantage of small gaps opening up in the hedge, unlike our bovine brethren, and cross that there grey stuff and we’re made.” Off they go, catching a momentary flashing glimpse of light in the corners of their eyes as a combine harvester (novel industry) comes thundering down that road, pulverising them on its way into their field to cut their precious grass and process into novel products they never dreamed of.
(OK. Sheep not perfect, since they and cows get eaten, but if you take the wool-bearing and milk-producing aspect…)

See DBW article here…

See Guardian on Apple piece here…

That said, I’m not actually disagreeing with what this article says:

Since I am, above, making the (perhaps mistaken) assumption that most have not yet differentiated between the App (device-specific) and pseudo-app (open – ie Epub3 and beyond) multi-media modifications to the reading experience.
I am not taking aim at the adult fiction market in its present guise, trundling along quite nicely into simple epub.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Trending YA book news – after vampires… beasts of war.

Following the thundering successes of Warhorse (film) and Soldier Dog (book), it is reported publishers are to fight a three-corner battle for rights to the first in a bilogy of tales based on true stories of animals at war.

Cher Ami, the fast moving story of the plucky carrier-pigeon, in the only untold tale of the ‘Lost Battalion’, who won the Croix deGuerre with Palm. In October 1918, 194 American soldiers were trapped by Germans in the forest of Argonne, cut off behind the lines without a radio. Refusing to surrender, the trapped men fastened their co-ordinates to Cher Ami, who flew 25 miles in 25 minutes to American headquarters, despite being shot in the chest. The Americans launched a rescue mission and the soldiers were saved.

Second in this series of tales of animals in war is War Boar, the heartbreaking tale of a young Greek swineherd, Thura, and his boar, Kapros, who saved his city from certain destruction during the siege of Megara by Antigonus II Gonatas in 266BC.
Growing up together on the plains of the Isthmus of Corinth, Thura formed a unique bond with Kapros, the the one-eyed boar he saved from slaughter as a piglet. Retreating to the city as the siege got under way, Thura had his pet boar and herd of sows snatched by a group of desperate soldiers who poured pitch on them and set alight to them as they drove them out of the city gates towards the massed elephants of Antigonas’ army. The squealing of the flaming pigs terrified the elephants who ran amok, creating havoc among the troops and breaking up the siege, saving the city.

(Editor’s note: before readers write to complain they have a right to complain, it should be noted both stories are essentially true.)