The Continual EBook Challenge

As still a relatively young technology, publishers face a steep hill of challenges when it comes to being profitable in producing ebooks. Nieman reports on how the industry is adjusting strategy and one of the more interesting points is that most ebooks are read via mobile devices instead of on actual e-readers.

This is brought into context with the recent announcement that Oyster, an ebook subscription service, will no longer be in operation within the next few months. Fortunately for them, Google hired many employees and the author speculates that they are after Oyster’s digital reading experience. However, the deal did not include any of the contracts that Oyster had with publishers. Subscription services for ebooks are a good idea in theory, but more difficult to sustain in practice. Not surprisingly, Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited seems to have a better business model to survive. Authors who are included are only able to print with Amazon, while Oyster was just one way that publishers were getting their content out.

The next few years will be telling. Will ebooks go the way of newspapers with digital access accounts? Will authors get paid more based on page views (like Amazon) or by selling ad-space? Will digital publishing of fiction books become extinct? We will have to wait and see.

The Re-Marketing of Harry Potter

The Harry Potter series is one that will never really go away. The stories will be fun and interesting and relevant to audiences of children and adults for many years to come. But for publishers, this poses an issue because there are many questions on how to continue to profit. Will newer parents read their kids the books that they themselves read as children? Will children have their own e-readers to use themselves? How can a continually profitable series keep making substantial profits?

To get ahead of this issue, new versions were released last week. Readers can now buy an enhanced version of each of the seven books in the series via Apple Books. According to the Huffington Post, these enhancements include new illustrations, more details on characters via pop-ups and interactive features. The “new” written features from author J.K. Rowling come from the essays she has previously published on Pottermore, but combining the books with these essays is a smart way to promote each format.

It will be interesting to see what kind of profits these updates bring. As a true Harry fan, who has read the books an embarrassing number of times and treasures the hard copies my grandmother gave me as a kid, I will certainly be purchasing these new editions.

Organizing Your Bookshelf? There’s an App for That

Some readers have a problem: bookshelves packed full of titles that they can’t bear to part with, but can’t take anywhere and can’t buy more. What happens when you want to buy a new book but don’t want to get rid of something you bought, held, wrote in. Plus, what if you want to read it again? Or need when you aren’t at home?

Insert Shelfie, a new (and free) app that readers can use to find and buy ebook versions of printed books they already own at a discounted price. You just have to take a photo of your bookshelf, aka a shelfie, and find deals that publishers will offer to help clear your clutter.

Techly reports on this new app and writes that Shelfie is creating a new road for readers by getting ebook versions with their prints. This could be a huge shift in the publishing world and truly impact budgets, profits and promotions and should be watched closely.

Digital Revenue Without the Ads

While digital publishing has revolutionized the publishing world, it still comes with some setbacks and challenges. Digital platforms decrease production costs but can sometimes negatively impact the bottom line of any business. Many sites can help appease them, but the balance lies in not overwhelming users with ads everywhere they click.

Insert HelloToken, which is trying to solve this problem. Beta Boston reports that the company is asking users to answer quick questions to continue reading content. These questions are a way to conduct research at a much cheaper cost and get more effective information than traditional web ads do. It will compete with Google Consumer Surveys, but the company maintains this system is easier to install and manage.

Each time a question is answered, it will generate six cents. Three of them will go to the website.

The start up has already raised a significant amount of money and will pilot next month.