Saturday, February 27, 2010


When It Comes to Content, Amazon’s Kindle Won’t Be Undersold
On Jan. 27, Steven P. Jobs was still standing on a stage in San Francisco, presenting Apple’s new iPad, when the phones started ringing. Senior managers from were calling newspaper, magazine and book publishers trying to glean any information possible about the deals Apple was offering them to supply content for its new reading device. [...]
Since December, Amazon has been pushing publishers to sign a new round of legal agreements that would guarantee that the Kindle price for their content is always the same or lower than the price on other electronic reading devices, such as the iPad or the Sony Reader.
Source: New York Times

AP takes aim at consumers with new digital unit
The Associated Press is setting up a division to help the news cooperative, newspapers and broadcasters sell digital products directly to readers on the next wave of Internet-connected devices such as Apple's iPad. [...]
AP Gateway will focus on expanding such products as the AP Mobile news service for cell phones and the kinds of online platforms that the AP developed for the Winter Olympics and Copenhagen climate talks. Some services might be supported by advertising revenue, while others might require readers to pay subscriptions, Curley said.
Source: Associated Press

The fuss about ePub
But Pacheco conceded that he isn't crazy about how ePub files look on most e-readers. It's more like reading a blog through an RSS reader as opposed to reading the content on the originating Web site, he said.
That said, "I have a feeling that Apple will push the International Digital Publishing Forum to extend the capabilities of ePub over time and make it more visual and interactive," he said. "Apple and publishers together have an opportunity here to lead the evolution of a standard for rich, offline handheld content."
Source: News & Tech

Scribd Spreads the Words From PCs to Mobile Devices
Document-sharing site launched a new feature Wednesday allowing users to easily transfer many of the site's 10 million books, magazines and documents to mobile devices, including Amazon's (Nasdaq: AMZN) Kindle, the Nook e-reader and the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone.
It's part of the San Francisco-based tech company's effort to plant its hooks in the growing e-publishing business by making it especially easy for people who don't yet have e-readers -- which is to say most of us -- to behave as though we do.
Source: E Commerce Times

My Kid’s an Honor Student at iPad University: Apple on the Rebound in Edu
With Apple (AAPL) inking multiyear Mac contracts with a number of school districts, it’s growth in edu is on the rebound. And now, with the iPad and its promise of hand-held education just a few weeks from market, Apple could be poised to see significant growth in higher ed.
Source: Digital Daily

Mobile E-learning Publishing: iPad, iPhone, or Kindle – Which do iChoose?
While there are some who feel e-reading on mobile devices is not ready for mass adoption, Kindle’s popularity has laid that discussion to rest. Timothy Egan, a writer for the NY Times blog, iCountry, sees the acceleration of e-book reader adoption as a step towards preserving “book culture” and believes that a key part of ensuring this movement is equitable is to hold the gatekeepers accountable.
Source: Electronic Papyrus

My Notes from an Interview on Ebooks
Publishers are looking for better margins and retail prices from ebooks in general. While the agency model has been held up as a tool to enable better prices and margins, it's not clear that enabling publishers to set their own prices via the agency model is going to support prices and margins in the long run that much better than the retail/wholesale model.
Source: ContentBlogger

Friday, February 26, 2010


Scribd Launches Mobile Document Sharing App
Non-copyrighted documents can be sent from a PC to smartphones, Amazon's Kindle, Barnes & Noble's Nook, and the Sony Reader.
Also in March, Scribd plans to release mobile applications for Apple's iPhone, Resarch In Motion's BlackBerry, and smartphones runnning Google's Android operating system. The company also plans to make PDF documents on the site available in the EPUB format, an open document standard that gaining traction in the industry.
Source: InformationWeek

Publishing: The Revolutionary Future
The transition within the book publishing industry from physical inventory stored in a warehouse and trucked to retailers to digital files stored in cyberspace and delivered almost anywhere on earth as quickly and cheaply as e-mail is now underway and irreversible. This historic shift will radically transform worldwide book publishing, the cultures it affects and on which it depends. Meanwhile, for quite different reasons, the genteel book business that I joined more than a half-century ago is already on edge, suffering from a gambler's unbreakable addiction to risky, seasonal best sellers, many of which don't recoup their costs, and the simultaneous deterioration of backlist, the vital annuity on which book publishers had in better days relied for year-to-year stability through bad times and good.
Source: The New York Review of Books

IPad Apps Could Put Apple in Charge of the News
Publishers should think twice before worshipping the iPad as the future platform for magazines and newspapers. That is, if they value their independence from an often-capricious corporate gatekeeper.

The past week’s controversy swirling around Apple’s retroactive ban of sexy apps in the App Store seems trivial, but the implications of Apple’s arbitrariness should be disconcerting to members of the press and those who rely on the media for unbiased information.
Source: Wired

An expert view of unicorns and digital rights management
A video interview with Kirk Biglione, Oxford Media Works.
My impression of the iPad is that it's a magical unicorn that is going to save the world, all of the print industry's problems will be solved.
Source: O'Reilly Tools of Change Publishing

Leaked file might be the first promo list of iPad books
The authors include Stephen King, Timothy Ferris, Malcolm Gladwell, Dubner & Leavitt, Kennedy, Agassi, Palin and Beck. There's bestselling fiction (The Lovely Bones), fact (A History Of Modern Britain) and autobiography (Wishful Drinking). The prices range from $14.99 (for Too Big To Fail) all the way down to the magic of free (Heat Wave). It's an eclectic list... and it might be the first round of books to be highlighted on the iBooks app in a few weeks.
Source: The Unofficial Apple Weblog

No ordering yet

The rumor that Apple would start taking orders on the 25th for the iPad have proved false, but surely they will be doing it soon. The FTC Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule requires that when you advertise a product you must have an expectation of shipping it within 30 days, and if something happens to extend it, then you have to get the customers approval.

So we can understand why Apple didn't take orders on the day of announcement with over two months to go before release, but if they are going to start shipping by the end of March, it would be a good guess that they could start taking orders anytime after the 1st. Of course, they may be running a few days late...

Thursday, February 25, 2010


The eBook Format: Creating Content for the Smart Phone
On the iPhone, I use Amazon's Kindle App and the Stanza reader, which I downloaded when the App Store first appeared here. As the iPhone supports the .epub format, I examined some software that would help me make my own examples. If, as an ordinary user, I can do it, then others can, at little cost, highlighting content and not packaging.

None of the software I have will convert files to this e-book format: Apple should add this to Pages and Text Edit. Instead I looked at Open Source software, focusing on three applications: Sigil, Stanza Desktop and Calibre.
Source: eXtensions

B&N: Nook “Single Best-Selling Product”; CEO Rebuffs iPad Fears
Riggio said sales of Nook, which it described as “strong,” helped boost online sales for the company by 67% in the January ending fiscal Q3. Had the company had more units in stock, that 67% increase would have been higher, argued Riggio.

However, the Nook helped to drag down gross profit by 1 percentage point in the quarter.
Source: Barron's

Apple plans to expand iPhone OS to more platforms
Apple is planning to leverage its work in transforming Mac OS X to work on other devices
[Like that's a surprise -Ed]
Source: Arstechnica

Tools of Change Round-up Day 2
The second day of the Tools of Change conference left me with a notebook and a brain overflowing with ideas, information, and inspiration. It’s almost too much to digest in one day. I feel like a ZIP archive—compressed. And to top it off I went to the New York InDesign User Group meeting and watched Bob Levine and Gabriel Powell present on exporting from InDesign to Dreamweaver and EPUB, respectively. Good times.

iPad in Japan: The Ultimate Manga Distribution Platform?
Following on from my recent article iPad as iPad I thought I’d look again at the Japanese market. Since I published that article Apple have taken it upon themselves to become a lot more prudish in the way they maintain the app store and while I agree that heavy handed involvement in the app store has been a necessary part of the success of the iPhone, I wonder how this very American approach to freedom of speech will affect the iPad’s performance in Japan.
Source: Of Rice and Zen

iBooks or Apps? The publishers dilemma
Many publishers have started using the iPhone App Store as a channel to sell book content by packaging e-books as applications. There are currently 18,000 books in the App Store, and books are the fastest growing category of applications in the store.

With the launch of the iPad and the iBookstore Apple have given publishers another option for delivering content. In this post we analyse the pros and cons of both approaches.

Source: The Discovery Blog

Is the price right for e-books?
...after canvassing the views of people who have plunged into the age of electronic reading I've concluded, after an admittedly unscientific poll, that they're buying precious few e-books.
Now the book trade is going through another upheaval as it tries to work out what readers will pay for e-books. What seems clear at the moment is that prices are too high to persuade more than a dedicated few that digital reading is the way forward.
Source: dot.Rory

Three iPad Questions
Does the iPad have MS Exchange support?
Can I put my own EPUB documents on it?
Does book formatting matter to you?
Source: iPhone Nano

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The First [Adobe] Flash-to-Native-iPhone-App Conversion

Today, Adobe announces the availability of Connect Pro Mobile, an application for its enterprise Web conferencing solution Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro. Connect Pro Mobile was built using Flash Professional CS5 beta and published as a native iPhone application — the very first Adobe-authored application that uses the Packager for iPhone technology. With this release, Connect Pro Mobile offers users mobile access via an iPhone or iPod touch to rich communications including collaborative meetings, training sessions and Web seminars.

UPDATE - Gizmodo first posted this as the first Flash app, but it turns out there have been other Flash authored apps done by other companies. This is the first from Adobe.

Source: Gizmodo


E-Magazines and E-Newspapers Benefit Everyone
E-newspapers and E-magazines could actually save many of the print publications that are struggling through the digital age. This type of e-subscription service would be quite easy to implement with the current and upcoming slate and tablet devices like the Apple iPad tablet and the Amazon Kindle E-reader. This would allow for e-magazines and e-newspapers to be delivered in a more environmentally friendly way than the current paper publications.

Apple iPad demand exceeding pre-launch iPhone buzz?
A new survey has found that 13 percent of respondents are likely to buy Apple's forthcoming iPad, a number greater than the 9 percent who planned to purchase an iPhone before its launch in 2007.
I'm skeptical; simply going on the perceived buzz of people I know, I don't think that there's more interest in the iPad than there was in the iPhone.
Source: AppleInsider

Apple to sell iPad at Best Buy and other assisted locations
Apple said Tuesday that sales of its upcoming iPad device will follow a model similar to that of the iPhone during its onset, with availability limited to the company's direct sales channels and select other retail locations that receive Apple assistance.
"Initially it will be around places with really great assisted sales," Cook said. "Over time it will expand."
And yes, he also means Best Buy!
Source: AppleInsider

Apple iPad Applications for Digital Publications
Who Will Emerge as the Leading Developer of eReader Apps?
Apple's highly anticipated release of the iPad has brought on a surge of enthusiasm from within the print industry. Magazine and newspaper publishers are chomping at the bit for an opportunity to revive their struggling print publications through Apple's promising new digital media platform.

....And we're waiting to see if Apple will start taking pre-orders for the iPad tomorrow!!...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Nook vs. iPad
The following table compares Barnes & Noble’s nook with Apple’s iPad on several different metrics and measurements, such as screen size, weight, dimensions, and other features, but it is important to note that while the iPad can be an e-book reader, the nook cannot (yet) be a mobile media PC
Source: Nook*share

Should Apple TV Switch to the iPhone OS?
The set-top box market is nebulous at best, but Apple chose to engage it — much as it has the equally nebulous tablet market with the iPad, so we wonder if they wouldn’t do better engaging it on the same terms — with the iPhone OS and its 150,000 apps.
There would be problems to be sure. Right away the Apple TV’s 1280×720 screen resolution is much greater than the iPhone’s 480×320, and wider if shorter than the iPad’s 1024×768. Ideally, the Apple TV should go to 1920×1080 to match other, modern display resolutions as well. 
Yes! Or do something. Apple needs to do something to the AppleTV before it is completely lost and forgotten.

Alan Kay: With the Tablet, Apple Will Rule the World
“When the Mac first came out, Newsweek asked me what I [thought] of it. I said: Well, it’s the first personal computer worth criticizing. So at the end of the presentation, Steve came up to me and said: Is the iPhone worth criticizing? And I said: Make the screen five inches by eight inches, and you’ll rule the world.”
Kay practically invented modern computers; it's amazing to me he never patented anything. Particularly annoying when you see all the nuisance patents for ideas that really seem like small logical additions to what already exists rather than major steps forward.

Reports: 5,000 'overtly sexual' iPhone apps purged
Chillifresh claimed in a Saturday post that a discussion with Apple revealed that more than 5,000 apps have been affected by its new App Store content policy. Apple said the change was triggered by numerous customer complaints, according to Chillifresh. 
Makes you wonder what Apple will do in it's iBookstore. I don't understand why Apple hasn't figured out how to segment the content it's selling through the iTunes store. This is an issue that they are going to have to deal with more and more...

Macmillan intros editable e-textbooks, plans iPad versions
Macmillan today unveiled a new format for digital textbooks that it hopes will become the mainstream. DynamicBooks aim to give control over a textbook to college and university professors by giving them Wiki-style editing: they can shuffle the order of material as well as edit it themselves.
Macmillan adds that it will talk with Apple about producing iPad-sized versions to take advantage of its seemingly ideal screen. As the iBookstore only allows ePub books so far, however, the publisher will likely have to turn to a custom DynamicBooks app instead

Monday, February 22, 2010


Flash support missing because of "hover" lack
In a touch screen world most people won’t care or even understand how to interact with flash banners that were designed with cursors and hovering in mind. In a perfect world devoid of snipes and verbal sparring, Apple and Adobe could work together to make existing flash sites and banners appear on an iPad. Completely possible! But it would suck.
Hmmm....I'm not sure I buy it. For Apple not to include Flash support because a certain class of Flash authored material won't exactly work right? It just doesn't make sense to me.
Source: Gizmodo

The Real Agenda Behind Apple’s Decision on iPad Flash Support

Technologies like Flash and Silverlight allow developers to create rich content that can be delivered via a web browser. There is no gatekeeper regarding who may run such content as long as the user has a web browser that supports the plug in technology. This open access model directly threatens Apple’s obsession with retaining tight control over what applications are allowed to run on the iPad.
I'd buy this more than the hover theory; except that the App store is still "protected"; you can't distribute Flash "apps" other than through the store (unless they are simple things that run on the web.
Source: The Rational Walk

College Newspaper Warms Up Its Digital iPad Press
The student newspaper at Abilene Christian University isn't waiting for iPads to hit the shelves before taking up the opportunity the device holds for print publications. The Optimist has developed its own app for the new platform. "We can't wait until [the iPad] is adopted by a critical mass of people," Professor Kenneth Pybus said. "We want to be up and running and there when they're ready for us."
Source: TechNewsWorld

The iPad to go on presale this week?
According to a reliable source of ours familiar with the matter, Apple will be starting the presale of the iPad as soon as February 25th.
Source: appadvice

Friday, February 19, 2010


CBS: We’ll Cut iTunes Prices for Some Shows
CBS CEO Les Moonves says the broadcaster will mark down the price on some of its shows from $1.99 to 99 cents.
“There are certain shows that will be sold on Apple for 99 cents,” Moonves said today, adding, however, that details have not been worked out.

Source: MediaMemo

iPad SDK hints at new widget, URL, and dictionary features
The idea that the iPad will undoubtedly present additional features at its actual launch date should come as no surprise, as Apple has similarly certain reserved features for other products it has announced months ahead of their actual launch, including Apple TV and the iPhone.
Source: AppleInsider

Adobe's DRM vexes e-book owners
But users say ADEPT fails to live up to Adobe’s promise of interoperability between e-readers and e-book stores. For instance, e-books bought from Barnes & Noble, for now, work only on the nook e-reader—not other popular e-readers such as the Sony Reader, even though both use Adobe’s DRM.
Source: Macworld/Computerworld

Apple and e-book DRM: Will they? Should they?
DRM has always been a double-edged sword: there’s good intentions behind making sure that those responsible for creating a song, movie, or book are rewarded for their time and work, but any creative effort is only meaningful if it’s consumed by an audience. What good is a book nobody ever reads or a movie nobody ever sees?
Source: Macworld

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kindle app for BlackBerry has released a Kindle application for BlackBerry phones. The BlackBerry devices supported are: the Bold 9000 and 9700, the Curve 8520 and 8900, the Storm 9530 and 9550, and the Tour 9630.
Amazon: Kindle for BlackBerry


Last words? Google Books to get final hearing
Representatives from Google, groups representing authors and publishers, privacy advocates, and competitors will appear before Judge Denny Chin on Thursday in New York to argue--for possibly the last time--over whether Chin should approve Google's class action settlement with the authors and publishers over Google Book Search. If approved, the settlement would allow Google to display books with varying degrees of access, sell books directly from its site, and launch an institution subscription to its library of over 12 million books.

PC Makers Ready iPad Rivals
In the next few weeks, executives from Hewlett-Packard Co. will meet in the U.S. and Taiwan to tweak prices and features on an upcoming keyboardless computer dubbed the Slate, said two people familiar with the matter.
H-P has discussed selling a version of the Slate—similar to the iPad in size and features, and including a cellular connection—for a price below the $629 Apple charges for an equivalent iPad.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Open-source .epub vs. Adobe .pdf
According to Mark Coker’s file-format data covering the past year on Smashwords, Adobe’s proprietary .pdf file format was the most-used format at 35%, followed by the open-source .epub format at 22%. Mark also noted that this was a change from the previous year, when .epub beat .pdf handily.
Source: Ditchwalk

Less Expensive, Bite-Sized, Available for Take-Out: The Book of the Future
When authors start having to roll up their sleeves and get under the hood of translation software, learning the ins and outs of formatting, you know we are still in a hobbyist phase.

Amazon E-Book Market Share to Fall as Industry Grows Inc. will likely see its market share of e-book sales slip to 72 percent this year from 90 percent in 2009 as competition intensifies from Apple Inc.’s iPad and Google Inc., Credit Suisse Group AG analysts said.
Source: Bloomberg

Why I Just Bought A Dell
Even with all the iPad hysteria in yonder interwebs, there is one fact that differentiates the iPad from a true, bad-to-the-bone laptop: the need to sync. This above all else cripples the iPad (at least when one considers it against the backdrop of the average laptop hardware spec).
I think he misses the point - it's a bit like arguing "I just bought a Dell instead of a Kindle." the iPad (and the Kindle) aren't supposed to be laptops.
Source: KindleDigest

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Creating an eBook with InDesign

Here's a video podcast that shows how to produce an ePub using Adobe Indesign: (Click the Watch the Episode icon at the end of the text!)

News: February 17

How to succeed at marketing the iPad
"This is one of these products that bumps up against the most important issue in new technology: compatibility," according to Rashi Glazer, tech marketing expert at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business. "Is it compatible with what people currently do...will people be willing to change their behavior?"

Norway halts Apple iPad pre-orders
Even though Apple US is not taking orders (and only has a "Notify" button in their shop) it seems resellers overseas are taking pre-orders.
"It's been a crazy interest and demand for Apple's latest creation, iPad," reads the website of Eplehuset (Apple House), a "premium reseller" with stores in Norway and Denmark. "Price and delivery for Europe will be ready in a short time, but in the meantime, we have chosen not to receive more pre-orders for now."
Source: Brainstorm Tech

iPad, EPUB, Apps and Comics, oh My!
How do you get a comic into EPUB format? It's so easy you're going to freak out. Ready? Here goes:
First, get your pages together and in order. Compress them into a .zip file. Change the .zip to .cbz. Get Calibre. Use Calibre to convert the .cbz to EPUB. Done. The conversion literally took me about 2 minutes to run - it even has a setting for converting comic books (not kidding!). No app. No special processing. No nothing. DONE! Calibre even has specific output settings for different devices (Nook, Sony, Kindle, etc, etc). It's a great program and exceptionally easy to use.


Decrypting Adobe Digital Editions 1.7.2 eBooks on Windows
Adobe Digital Editions 1.7.2 tosses a monkey wrench into the procedure for decrypting Adobe eBooks that I described in iPhone: Reading Adobe/EPUB eBooks. Using that procedure as originally described can produce
Error: problem decrypting session key
instead of decrypting an eBook.
First I'll give the remedy, then I'll explain...
Source: Viva eBooks!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Wired Tablet App

Wired has developed an electronic version of their magazine using Adobe AIR, and you can see a video about it (along with a bit of a demonstration) at their site.

The content was created in Adobe InDesign, and though it's published in AIR, they expect to be able to "easily convert it for major tablet and mobile platforms."

They expect to do a full release sometime this summer.
..we also think it's an opportunity to reset the economics; for the first time people may value this experience so much that they'll pay for it.

Chris Anderson - Editor in Chief, WIRED

News: February 16

Apple to wrap digital books in FairPlay copy protection
Apple will be dusting off [FairPlay] for books, according to sources in the publishing industry.
...the majority of publishers are expected to embrace FairPlay, along with other copy protection software such as Adobe's Content Server 4, as a means to squelch incipient book piracy as the e-book market begins to take off.
Source: Los Angeles Times

iPad deals with publishers face hurdles
Apple’s practice of sharing with its partners little consumer data beyond sales volume is a problem. “Is it a dealbreaker? It’s pretty damn close,” said one senior media executive of a US metropolitan daily newspaper.
Source: Financial

Monday, February 15, 2010

News: February 15

Former CNET and Fox Co-Founder Wants To Fund Your iPad App
"Depending on the complexity of each deal, the pair of execs plans to provide anywhere from $5,000 to $500,000 towards the development and marketing of iPad and tablet device applications – a market they believe will “revolutionize entertainment, games, content, and communications."
Source: Search-InternetMarketing

North Carolina State U. Gives Students Free Access to Physics Textbook Online
North Carolina State University Libraries paid about $1,500 to purchase the site license for the textbook, published by Physics Curriculum & Instruction. Greg Raschke, who managed the physics project for the libraries, said the libraries would like to make more textbooks available online for students.
Source: The Chronicle of Higher Eduction

Australian Publishers get a year to make good on e-books
Innovation minister Kim Carr said the Government would establish a new book industry strategy group "to help Australia's $1.5 billion book industry meet the challenges of increased online book sales and grasp the opportunities presented by the emerging e-book market."
Source: itNews Australia

Don't Put Up With a 50% Price Hike
Apple's new pricing, though, is a dagger to dedicated e-book readers. Publishers will make sure that its digital reads are priced identically across platforms, and that means that it will be harder for Amazon, Sony, and Barnes & Noble to market their gadgets.
Source: The Motley Fool

E-books need a common language
As of last month, that widespread support for EPUB and Adobe's DRM left Amazon, which uses its own proprietary file format and copy protection technology, as the only major holdout. That's a big deal because of the popularity of the Kindle, but there was a chance that market pressure for a standard might eventually force Amazon to acquiesce.

But thanks to the iPad and iBooks, the pressure on Amazon just got a lot lighter.

Source: MercuryNews

The Beginning of the End... of Paper Books
Despite the title, this article is mainly a discussion of the pros and cons of the Agency model that Apple has adopted and publishers are forcing Amazon (Kindle) to move to.
Source: The Huffington Post

Friday, February 12, 2010

Eye Strain?

One of the (many) complaints about the iPad I heard was that e Ink was easier on the eyes for long periods of reading. While e Ink may be better in bright light situations, it looks like LCDs aren't going to damage your eyes, and may be better in low light situations. This from an article in today's New York Times.
“Right now E Ink is great in sunlight, but in certain situations, a piece of paper can be a better display than E Ink, and in dim light, an LCD display can be better than all of these technologies.”

Thursday, February 11, 2010

iBooks must be downloaded?

John Gruber has pointed out that the iBooks app is not bundled with the iPad, but must be downloaded. This makes sense when you remember that Apple already made it clear that the iBookStore won't be available in Australia (amongst other places.)

Office for the iPad?

Microsoft's Mike Tedesco, wSenior Product Manager for WindowsBU was asked if Microsoft had thought about bringing Office to the iPad. His answer:
Yeah, it's something that we're looking at. Obviously the announcement (of the iPad) is really fresh and there's nothing to announce or nothing that I can talk to you about today.


BNC Technology Forum, March 25th, Toronto

If you're going to be in Toronto on March 25th, you might want to check on the BNC Technology Forum: Calculated Risk: Adventures in Book Publishing. At least one of the sessions looks particularly interesting:

Open Source ePub: Digital Books
Liza Daly, Threepress Consulting
One of the many challenges in digital publishing is a loss of control over the layout and design of ebooks. The proliferation of ereading systems -- on computers, smartphones and hybrids like tablets or netbooks -- means that readers are experiencing books in ways that publishers can't predict. This presentation will focus on the formatting options available in ePub, how open standards like CSS are implemented in the real world, and identify those features of eBooks which can be controlled, and those that are just part of the new publishing reality. We'll also look ahead to what's coming in eBook technology and how to prepare for it.

Interesting ePub lectures from ePub Boot Camp 2009

Presented by the Association of Canadian Publishers and BookNet Canada, the ePub Boot Camp included a number of interesting sessions, and while it's not exactly like being there, you can review the PowerPoint presentations here.

Taking Your Books to EPUB – What’s Under the Hood?
Laura Dawson, Publishing Industry Consultant

Best Practices for Creating EPUB Files
Laura Dawson, Publishing Industry Consultant

EPUB on Devices: Tweaks and Tricks
Keith Fahlgren, O’Reilly Media

Taking EPUB to the Reader: Making Use of Content Flexibility
Dan Galperin & Robert Beghian, Shortcovers

Preparing for the Future: The Big Picture
Michael Smith, International Digital Publishing Foundation

PDF to ePub Converter v2

Josessoft has released v2 of the utility PDF to ePub converter. This tool converts PDF files to ePub files, and can also convert HTML, XML, TEXT, Gif, JPEG files into an ePub file for reading with the iPhone, Sony Reader, Kindle and other eBook Readers. It costs $39.95.


Bill gates thinks the iPad should have a keyboard
"You know, I’m a big believer in touch and digital reading, but I still think that some mixture of voice, the pen and a real keyboard – in other words a netbook – will be the mainstream on that"

Apple may have TV shows for $1 when iPad rolls out
Wednesday, the Financial Times reported that Apple may begin selling some US television shows over iTunes for $1.

Hulu on the iPad
That's what TechCrunch thinks.

Prices go up: sales go down
The record companies forced Apple to alter their pricing structure on singles, so they could jack the price up on certain songs to $1.29. Strangely enough, Warner found that sales went down afterwards; though the little recession thing might have been a factor too.
For myself, I've avoided $1.29 songs on iTunes on purpose a couple of times. One time I founs the same songs on Amazon for $.99, the other time, I just didn't buy it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Publishers not so hot about Google's eBook plans

Google is planning it's own eBook market which would pay 63% to publishers and allow printing and cut and paste.

The publishers are getting 70% from Apple, can set their own prices, and they don't like printing, and cut and paste.  What happens next?

Monday, February 8, 2010

It's all in how you read the numbers...

Retrevo Blog has a big post up where they proclaim Apple iPad Hoopla Fails to Convince Buyers. As proof, they site their survey on “consumer interest” in the iPad, where they found that in answer to the Question: “Have you heard about the Apple iPad” the answer “Yes, but I’m not interested in buying one” had gone from 26% to 52% after the announcement.

An impressive number, and I know I’m a fanboy, and so my complaints will be met with skepticism (as they should be, and as should the results of any survey), but I want to point out a couple of things that are overlooked, or ignored, in the presentation of the results. Things that could easily be used to write a very different headline:

Firstly: The “Yes, I think I will buy one” category has gone from 3% to 9%. Also, the “I’m interested, but need more info” went up from 19 to 21%. Taken together, that could be interpreted as an increase in interest in the device, which went from 22% to 30% (a 36% increase!)

Secondly: The total number of people who answered “No, and I’m not interested” and “Yes, But I’m not interested” only went up from 61% to 70%, which is a 14% increase, not a 50% one. A not insignificant number, but not nearly as startling.

Thirdly: Who are these people who - the week of Jan 16th, the week before the announcement - hadn’t heard that Apple was going to announce a tablet. More importantly, what rock are they hiding under?! Is anyone surprised that these people end up trending away from being interested in the device?

My point is this; these numbers could be interpreted to mean almost anything, but I don’t think they point to a blanket statement: that the iPad failed to impress buyers.We'll have to wait until it's out in the wild and actually in the hands of customers to really get an answer to that question.

Today's column is brought to you by:

Comparing the iPad to the Kindle and Nook

It isn't even out, but the Laptop-Computer already has an article comparing the iPad to it's two biggest eBook competitors.
In the end, it all boils down to your need and your wallet. If you want a dedicated e-book reading device or looking for something at a cheaper price, then go for Amazon Kindle 2 or Nook. The e-book readers are smaller and ultra-portable and run longer than the iPad.
The Apple iPad, on the other hand, is a multi-functional device which can do many things including reading books and magazine.

US magazine circulation falls 9 pct

Single-copy sales of magazines at newsstands fell 9 percent in the second half of 2009. Overall circulation fell 2.2 percent and paid subscriptions fell by 1.1 percent.
It is difficult to say how much of the decline is the result of consumers abandoning an old medium for the Web and how much results from the recession hitting people's budgets.

Another factor is that publishers have been cutting back on heavily discounted circulation. As the cost of mailing magazines climbs, publishers figure it isn't worth the cost of printing extra copies.
AP US magazine circulation falls 9 pct at newsstands

Friday, February 5, 2010

Adobe Creative Suite 4 and 3D screening of Avatar.....really?

If you're in Washington D.C., there's another Adobe Government Event (though it appears to be open to the general public) this Wednesday Feb 10th, which will be a seminar to discover the latest tips and tricks with Creative Suite 4 and Acrobat 9, followed be a 3D screening of the new film, Avatar.

The seminar will evidently: Explore how Adobe tools were used in the production of this revolutionary cinema event, and how you can leverage the same toolsets to produce exciting, accessible cross-media content for print, web, video and mobile devices

Adobe Acrobat 9 and Creative Suite 4 Tips & Flicks Seminar

Here & There

How will the iPad feel?
Interesting article in Gizmodo (and more detailed at Uxmag) about the Apple interface guidelines for the iPad. As good as the Mac OS might have been, I always felt it was the consistency of the UI guidelines which really set the Mac experience apart from Windows in the early days.

DOJ and Goggle Tango
The U.S. Justice Dept is still unsure about Google's Book Search: "it still could give the company anticompetitive advantages in the digital book marketplace."

Samsung unveils another eReader
The E61 is similar in size to the Kindle, with a 6 inch black and white screen.

Comicbooks with Panelfly
Another article at Gizmodo about Panelfly, makers of a comic book iPhone app who are working on an update for the iPad.

Steve Jobs does show and tell for The New York Times
There's practically nothing you can learn from this article at Gawker, other than the fact that he went and spoke to the Times and Wall Street Journal.
If Apple doesn't do it, someone will bring comics to the iPad.

Hachett Book Group to go to Agency Model
Translation: raised prices on eBooks.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Off Topic: iPhone developer creating app live over one week

MacWorld reports that developer Sahil Lavingia is planning to build a brand new iPhone app, from the ground up, in full public view, in a week. Starting on February 7th.

Could be interesting for those that want to get "closer to the metal" than ePub.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Adobe Digital Editions 1.7.2

There's an update to Adobe Digital Editions available. This update fixes a number of bugs, adds support for Windows 7 (32 and 64 bit) and for Mac OSX 10.6 (32 and 64 bit), but also removes support for Content Server 3. Read the Release Notes (PDF)

Note that on Windows, when I ran the older version, a dialog came up asking if I wanted to update. What I didn't realize (at first) is that clicking yes simply loaded up the Adobe Digital Editions website in a browser window, from where you must explicitly choose to download the update.

Also, for Mac users, there's a warning that the installer does not remove the previous version; you have to do that manually.

More thoughts on margins

Yesterday I grumbled about the margins in a document created in Sigil.

I remember going to a talk by Dave Eggers where he said that he quite likes to write in Quark Xpress – a page layout program – because he likes to see “how it will look.”

By "it" he meant the final piece.

I can really appreciate that. For example, I often write these blog posts in Bloggers's editor (though sometimes I do write drafts in Microsoft Word first.) Blogger provides an HTML editor (HTML, Courier font) as well as a more WYSIWYG Compose editor, and a Preview window (in which you can’t edit.) All three present a document in very different ways, and none looks like the document as it appears when it’s published on the blog.

Apart from the fact that blockquotes and lists space out very differently from one to another, and the fonts are different in all three, I frequently find myself reading pieces again after they are "published", and making additional changes and corrections. There’s something about the final layout which causes me to make more changes.

I don't know what it is. I should be able to find spelling mistakes and other problems when editing in any "text" format; should the presentation really make a difference? Or is it just that the change in presentation arouses my interest in some way?

Editing in Blogger; Compose mode (top) Preview mode (bottom left)
and actual blog (bottom right)

Stunning Infographics and Data Visualization

I've always been fascinated by infographics. This post at collects together some really interesting ones.

InDesign for the Web: Best Practices

Adobe has an upcoming eSeminar that will surely be eNgaging and cover the following:
  • Best practices when using InDesign CS4 to export HTML/CSS for websites
  • InDesign's ability to create Flash-based buttons, menus, navigation, and effects
  • A sneak peek into Adobe's future plans for helping print designers embrace the web
Sounds interesting. It will be held Tuesday, February 9th at 2:00pm EST, and is open to everyone in the US and Canada. You have to register to attend.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Wheels and Deals

Murdoch says Macmillan is renegotiating with Amazon now over electronic book pricing.
We don’t like the Amazon model of selling everything at $9.99. They don’t pay us that. They pay us the full wholesale price of $14 or whatever we charge. We think it really devalues books and it hurts all the retailers of the hard cover books.

Major textbook publishers ink iPad deal
Kaplan, Pearson Education, Houghton Mifflin and others have signed a deal with ScollMotion to develop textbook apps and test prep / study guide apps for the iPad.

Apple forces removal of USB sharing from Stanza iPhone app

Robin Wauters has an interesting article at TechCrunch about how Apple forced the makers of Stanza - an eBook reader app for the iPod Touch and iPhone - to remove the USB sharing capability.

No one knows why Apple forced them to do this, and Lexcycle (developers of Stanza) aren't saying.

Creating my first ePub: The details are in the margins

Prior to the launch of the iPad, I knew nothing about ePub. And now, almost a week later, I don’t know a whole heck of a lot more; other than it’s an HTML-like document format that’s best for novel-like publications.

I’ve never been a big fan of HTML

Still, out of curiosity - and while I wait to hear how Apple expects us to supply content for the iPad – I did some experimenting. I downloaded Adobe’s Digital Editions, an eBook reader that works with ePub and is available for both Mac and Windows. It's free.

When you open the application, it provides a sort of library interface, and then you “Add Item to Library” to open an ePub document and add it to the reader.

Once that was set up, I downloaded the trial version of iStudio Publisher, a Mac only application for word processing that can export to ePub. It’s actually the only thing that turns up on Apple’s site at the moment if you do a search for ePub.

iStudioPublisher and Adobe Digital Editions document

After installing the 30-day trial version, I did a very simple experiment of putting some text in a document, and exporting it to ePub. The first test went well; I opened the text file in Digital Editions, and it was pretty much as expected. I then tried adding a graphic, and discovered that as soon as I added an image to the file, iStudio Publisher would no longer allow me to export the document to ePub. Even if I removed the graphic.

In reading materials on their site, it appears that iStudio Publisher does not support graphics, just "text flows" to ePub. I also couldn't figure out how to create a TOC.

The next tool I tried was Sigil. This is a free application for both Mac and Windows. It’s much simpler in interface than iStudio Publisher, but then it’s only mission is to edit ePub documents.
Adobe Digital Editions and Sigil document

It doesn’t have a whole lot of features, but even so, creating chapter breaks and TOC items confused me for a while. It turns out that adding a chapter doesn’t automatically add a chapter item to the TOC. Instead, you have to set something to a Heading 1 style, and then it appears in the TOC (this was discovered by accident, as I couldn’t find any documentation with the product.)

Exporting went fine into Digital Editions, though I was a little troubled that the exported document lacked margins, with the text flush to the window. It lacks margins in Sigil as well, but that’s beside the point. Sigil does let you indent things, so I guess that’s the solution (though it doesn’t put a margin on the right side, just the left.) Clearly, I need to puzzle this out a bit more.

The program supports it's own file format (.sgf) as well as the ePub format, and you can use Save As to switch. I had a crash early on when I created a .sig file, then used Save As to create an ePub document, and then continued editing the document and tried to save it. The program was stable after that, editing both types of documents, though I haven't spent a lot of time with the program and can't really attest to how solid it is.

One good thing about Sigil is that it does support graphics. I added a cover and exported the file and was able to open and view it in Digital Editions. Digital Editions even created a thumbnail from that first graphic, though the thumbnail was a slightly scaled and heavily cropped version of the cover graphic.

After reading a posting on the Digital Editions forum, I tried rescaling the cover to 567x819 as suggested, but that still didn’t work. In the end, I ended up scaling down to a size of 390 x 563, which Digital Editions seemed to be happy with.

As an editor, there’s not much to Sigil, but then there’s not a whole lot to ePub either. I wish it did a slightly nicer job of presenting the document for editing; at the moment I think I’ll write in something else and just use Sigil to format the final output. It is free, so I can’t really complain about the value.

Monday, February 1, 2010 Kindle Killer

Laura Miller has written a great article looking at the brouhaha between Amazon and Macmillan over ebook pricing, and what it might all mean.

I don't think anyone knows what the iPad is going to do to the Kindle and ebooks in general, but I think this article makes a strong case that things don't look good for the Kindle.

Another meaning to A4?

It probably didn't occur to many people here in the U.S., but how many noticed that the name of the Apple chip used in the iPad, matches the name of the international paper size?

It only just occurred to me; but then I'm here in the US and hardly ever encounter A4 paper.

Can it just be a fortuitous coincidence?!

Steve Jobs bio

If you do a search for iBookstore on Apple's site right now, you get three results: one of them for Steve Jobs bio. The funny thing about the bio is:

a) it says it was last updated 1/10, yet it includes information about the iPad that was released on 1/27.

b) the sentence that references the iPad has a rather awkward construction:
Apple recently introduced the iPad, a breakthrough Internet and digital media device, plus the iBookstore, alongside iTunes and the App Store.

Sure, these details are hardly earth shattering or of great import; it's just the little things you come across while waiting for Apple to post some real information about the iBookstore.


A friend passed along a link to Inkling, which appears to be a start-up producing a publishing platform that runs on the iPhone and iPad. Details are a bit sparse at the moment, particularly about how the publishing actually works.

There's a lot of general boilerplate about what they are doing, but no real specific details about how it will be accomplished. It's impossible to know where they are in the development process.

Inkling makes it easy to bring rich, interactive learning content to tablet devices like iPad. Inkling engages students and provides authors and publishers with an exciting new way to bring content to market. It’s more than just the best digital textbook experience ever. It’s the best learning experience ever.
Mitch Kapor is one of the investors in the company.