Enhancing the eBook: Opening Keynote for Tools Of Change 2010

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Peter Collingridge, co-founder of Enhanced Editions, delivered the opening Keynote at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change for Publishing conference in New York. …

Peter Collingridge, co-founder of Enhanced Editions, delivered the opening Keynote at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change for Publishing conference in New York.

Peter was speaking in his capacity as co-founder of Enhanced Editions, but also touched on some recent work Apt Studio has created.

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  • 1. Enhancing the ebook Peter Collingridge Enhanced Editions LtdGood Morning, Im Peter Collingridge, co-founder of Enhanced Editions.Enhanced Editions was set up about 18 months ago, with the singular vision of bringing the iPhone the readingexperience it deserves, with a well-selected list of titles tailor-made for the device.
  • 2. 1 2 3 Background Setup ChallengesThis morning I am going to talk about three things. [Slide]Some background our team, and the skills we call upon to publish digital books;Secondly some stories about how we started up, and the decisions we made along the way;And thirdly some of the challenges, past present and future, that we have overcome or anticipate, which I hope willprovide insight and value to those of you considering your digital strategies.
  • 3. 1Background
  • 4. Canongate Screenbase Apt 1997 – 2001 2001 – 2005 2005 –So, to our background. Personally, I have worked in and around UK trade publishing for 12 years, having begun mycareer in 1997 at a small, innovative house called Canongate. I worked in every department there before moving to aweb and film production company in 2001.At this company I had the role of producer, and was responsible for some 30 publishing projects before setting up"Apt" in 2005.Apt is (and remains) a digital consultancy, specifically focused on encouraging publishers to do better business byembracing good technology. Apt creates websites, films, and strategies - and loves books and the web.Some of the work we have produced recently includes:
  • 5. James Frey: Author rehab www.james-frey.comA community site for James Frey to address head-on the debate around the veracity of A Million Little Pieces, wherecomments from fans, both positive and negative, were encouraged alongside the text;
  • 6. Bookseer: Recommendation engine www.bookseer.comBookseer - a very simple book recommendation site where you plug in a book, and it just tells you ten titles to readnext (this has been very popular);
  • 7. 25th Estate: This is where we live www.25thestate.comAnd, at the other end of the scale, a three minute, stop-frame animation built entirely in camera and out of books,celebrating HarperCollins imprint 4th Estates 25th anniversary.We hope that we bring originality, wit, and intelligence to all of the work that we do, and that includes EnhancedEditions.
  • 8. 10 05 01 97 20 20 20 19 Book value Impact of digital How can digital innovation provide premium reading experiences?In the 12 years I have been in the publishing industry, I can make two observations. The first is that the price (andperceived value) of the book has been greatly diminished, primarily by the retailers using price promotion to competefor market share.The second is that it is only very recently that interest in digital has gone from disengaged to engaged.One of the founding principles of Enhanced Editions was that we would explore this point here, where value anddigital collide. The question we ask ourselves is, "How can we inject value back into the book through digitalinnovation?"
  • 9. Jim Rhys Strategy Product EE Peter PublishingEnhanced Editions was conceived and formed in the space of a few phone calls between me and my cofounders in thesummer of 2008. Those co-founders were Rhys Cazenove, and Jim Bonner.Rhys is a highly experienced and creative developer from the web shop I worked at prior to Apt. He has a computerscience and artificial intelligence background, and has been here in New York running Comedy Centrals very busycommunity and user generated sites (South Park, Colbert Nation, Daily Show) for the past couple of years.Jim is a corporate strategy guy who is an expert on change management, and has been working with banks on how torestructure in the face of dramatic changes in their business models. He has also consulted with me at Apt on anumber of publishing industry projects, and spent four years as a journalist and editor at Bloomberg in Tokyo.
  • 10. Skills Planning Production Design Editing Digital marketing SEO Community managementSo, Enhanced Editions is a digital publishing house, making multimedia books that add depth to the readersenjoyment and engagement of the text. And these books draw directly upon our skills and experience.
  • 11. Consultancy Developer Marketer Digital publisherFor me, one of the most exciting things about Enhanced Editions is simultaneously the diverse and complimentaryskills we have as a team, yet that the shape and skills we have look nothing like those of a traditional publishinghouse.Instead, we are a media-literate hybrid that sits between a consultancy and a development shop, a web marketingteam and a vertical publisher.As it turns out these hybrid skills have been perfectly suited to riding out the challenges and making the strategicdecisions we have faced since we set up the company.
  • 12. 2 SetupWhy we set up EnhancedEditions?
  • 13. “ We are publishing houses, not software houses UK publishing, 2008 ”In the summer of 2008, when the app store came out, I blogged about how it was going to be the most exciting newdistribution platform for publishers. Yet I was shocked by how disengaged publishers were from it, hearing proteststhat "we are publishing houses, not software houses" as a reason for not entering the market.
  • 14. “ It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is – the fact is that people don’t read anymore. Steve Jobs (Jan 2008) ”At the same time, Steve Jobs made it clear Apple wasnt in the game.If Apple didnt share our vision that books were as important as music and films, we decided that Enhanced Editionswould create the reading experiences that Apple themselves should make. We set about thinking different about thebook.
  • 15. We were also frustrated at how the future of the book was shaping up creatively: we just didnt find e-ink devicescompelling - they simply rendered text on a page.
  • 16. Multimedia Monomedia Multitasking vs. Monotasking Converged MonochromeFor us, living in a world used to multimedia, multi-tasking and converged devices, they looked distinctly "monomedia"and "mono-tasking" and monochromatic to us.
  • 17. “ The best way to predict the future is to invent it. Alan Kay, Apple ”In short, we were hungry and impatient to see what the future of the book looked like, couldnt see it around us, sodecided to make it ourselves.
  • 18. Key Decison: Premium3. Strategic decisions / Brand valuesThe key first choice was that we wanted to create a “premium” experience, one that took advantage or thepossibilities of digital, but would also differentiate us from the many rivals that were emerging both large (amazonand google) and small (stanza and scrollmotion).Being premium was both a strategic necessity – to avoid getting crushed – but was also something that took mostadvantage of our available skillset.
  • 19. “ How do we use a device that has eyes, ears, and a mouth, knows where it is and which way up it is pointing? Andrew Savikas ”How do we do that? Well, looking back I think it is inevitable that our background in multimedia, web and social mediaproduction meant that we instinctively created a hybridised book for a hybrid device.
  • 20. “ Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. Antoine de Saint-Exupery ”The devices feature set alone could have lead to a deluge of flashy features from us, but we also knew from years ofweb development that what we left out would be as important as what we left in.
  • 21. “ Good design is invisible Dieter Rams ”It would also have to look the part: Our experience with books meant that we understood that this meant a lightnessof touch was fundamental to design. Good design is invisible: you dont notice the interface of a book when you readit: its just words on a page. Similarly a digital book interface fails if you dont know how to use it. It has to just work.
  • 22. How to bring How to get books to the vs. books on the iPhone iPhoneAs a result of these decisions, we saw development primarily as an editorial challenge: that we were publisherssolving a publishing problem [how to bring books to the iphone], whilst our competitors tended to be technologistssolving a subtly different technology problem [how to get books on the iphone].With these decisions in place, we began writing out user stories for the features of the app.
  • 23. Feature 1.1 Load and parse an ePub file for later use4. Development processThe first user story was clear: the app, and the workflow systems for the apps, needed to be based around ePub. ePubwasnt yet the "industry standard", but it had the benefit of being based on HTML, allowing deep integration withWebKit, the core text rendering engine of the iPhone.
  • 24. Feature 5.3 Synchronise audio to textThe next big decision was stunningly simple, and at first brain-hurtingly hard to implement. We wanted to synchroniseaudio and text, allowing you to either listen, or read, or do both at the same time, and swap from one to the otherwithout losing your place.We felt that this was an awesome feature, but little did we know how highly users would rate it as a benefit ofelectronic reading - or how popular a feature in the app it would turn out to be.
  • 25. With these user stories agreed, development evolved into sketching wireframes for the stories, iterating out designs,and paring back on some of the features.
  • 26. (I wouldn’t say this was easy. This bit took us about a year.)Id love to say that development was a quick, painless process, but it took us about a year to go from having the idea,to having our first application submitted to Apple.
  • 27. 5. Publishing decisionsThe feature set was planned before we knew what our list was going to look like, and we began looking for partners. Iapproached the house where I began my career in 1997 , Canongate, which is now known as the UKs most innovativepublisher.Like any great publishing story, we pitched the idea to Canongate MD Jamie Byng, over guinness and oysters in thispub. Jamie got it immediately, and I left the meeting having shaken hands on apps for rock star Nick Cave, Wirescreenwriter David Simon, neuroscientist David Eagleman, Booker Prize winner Yann Martel and Barack Obama.The vision we pitched to Jamie on that day, is exactly the same as the vision we launched four months later, which weturned into a short film that Id like to show you now.
  • 28. The evolution of the bookwww.enhanced-editions.com
  • 29. Users Awards Media “Sets the gold MediaGuardian “The moment standard for future Innovation award digital publishing literary apps.” came of age” iTunes & Observer The Bookseller apps of the year “Worth every cent. “crisper and sexier No actually worth eConsultancy than the Kindle” a lot more!” Innovation Award Daily Mail Wolff Olins “Future” awardThe app has received some great attention and accolades, from users, media and awards bodies, of which we are veryproud.
  • 30. 3 ChallengesAt this point Id like to shift focus a bit and start a conversation about how the next few years of publishing could panout if our experience is anything to go by.
  • 31. Change.No-one in this room doubts that these next few years will be difficult and challenging for the publishing industry, andextremely fast-moving, and that there will be both winners and losers. I think its now clear that the change we aregoing to see will be unprecedented and irreversible.How we react to this change is what is going to define our industry in the same way it has that of music, and filmbefore us.
  • 32. “ We’ve learned from the mistakes of the music industry. ”Im not yet convinced that, for all of the reassuring statements that our industry has collectively "learned from themistakes of the music industry" that this is exactly true: I guess time will tell.One thing we do know is that Enhanced Editions is a tiny company, young and hungry, and admittedly a littleambitious. Were not pretending to have all of the answers. But we do know that along with everyone else here, ourpassions, sensibilities, and revenues lie with publishers and publishing.
  • 33. “ The book business is a tiny industry perched atop a massive hobby. Richard Nash ”We want, and need publishing to survive and indeed thrive. Its just that we think publishing needs to change shapeto do that. And perhaps a little disruption is what is called for.Disruption is certainly the game we got into when we launched. I sometimes feel that Enhanced Editions could nothave done a better job of grasping ALL of the publishing nettles in one hand at the same time.Scoping, designing, building and testing the app and its supporting infrastructure was really good fun. Hard work, butsecond nature to us.I think that most of our challenges and indeed frustrations have come from where we tried to fit into the currentstructures of the publishing industry.
  • 34. Challenges Structural Institutional Territorial Rights Price DRM Shift to digital DisintermediationThese challenges were manifold: structural, such as the makeup of the value chain; or institutional; rights orterritorial, and included red hot topics such as pricing and partnerships. Not to say part of the bigger "digital"question.
  • 35. Author Agent Publisher Retailer ReaderLooking at the current value chain for publishing its easy to see how eink devices got industry traction. Publishing isa very linear process, and the eink value chain reflects this.In the same way that vanilla ebooks mimic the printed experience, the value chain for creating and selling themremains broadly the same. Its still linear and book-shaped.
  • 36. On the other hand we created something that looks decidedly un-book-shaped. We didnt even know what to call it.An ebook? An app? An enhanced ebook? An enhanced audiobook? We still dont know.
  • 37. Author AgentPublisherReader NetworkWhat we did know was that we had blurred the traditional boundaries between all of the above. Between product,media, edition, format and indeed network or community.Our new direction also blurred the roles in the chain: Readers had to engage in a new way with an enhanced edition;authors had to contribute more than a manuscript, and the "publisher" had to create content in multiple media.
  • 38. Publishing Enhanced Industry EditionsYou could say that the industry was going in one direction, one that felt relatively easy to get their heads around. Andwe went in another, that, frankly, is quite hard to get your head around.Even if you dont agree with where we have taken the book - perhaps you think that enhanced books are the new CD-Rom - the idea of rendered text on eink screens is no longer as compelling a view of the future as it was before. Andwe have just made a tiny, first step of where we want to go with enhanced editions. But if you do agree with our vision,then our value chain looks really quite radically different.
  • 39. Sales Editorial Design Title Rights MarketingFor a start, it is no longer a linear process. It is not exactly cyclical but it is certainly iterative. It contains the potentialfor communication and feedback between author and reader; reader and publisher, reader and retailer and collectsvaluable insight about how books are read and consumed.Something about what we did also captured the imagination. Of consumers, of authors, of publishers, the media. Ofagents.
  • 40. Disruptive technology?So, I guess you could say that we accidentally created a disruptive technology.And, doubtless, this disruptive technology brings a load of complicated issues that are, frankly, easier to not thinkabout as a publisher in the middle of the perfect storm that is publishing in 2010.Our non-book-shaped book means rethinking a lot of firmly entrenched ideas in publishing.
  • 41. Rethinking: Rights Territories Royalties Editing Marketing Retail Roles ResponsibilitiesOne example is rights: the traditional model of publishing has the agent maximising sales of the individual rights to asmany parties in as many territories as possible. Conversely, our model requires a global market to make sense, andalso depends on aggregating as many rights as possible into one, hybrid, deal. Our model requires a rethinking of theroles, responsibilities and indeed royalties that are dominant today.
  • 42. Skills Planning Production Design Editing Digital marketing SEO Community managementAnother example is the editorial skillset. When we "publish" an Enhanced Edition, we draw upon all of ourexperiences of translating books into websites, films, and games. There is a creative synergy that comes from beingable to visualise and edit in multiple media at the same time, and I think traditional editors should be encouraged todevelop these skills.But we also needed skills to bring the apps to market: an understanding of digital marketing and PR, of search engineoptimisation, social media. Web analytics, paid for search, beta testing, and the electronic retail environment all cameinto play.These are not hard or expensive skills to acquire, but they may have to be found outside of publishings existing talentbase, which doesnt instinctively nurture them. We happen to think that they are exactly the skills that publishersneed to develop right now in order to thrive.The opposite is also true. We realised that as a bunch of young digital upstarts we would do well to be tempered bythe wisdom and experience of a publishing veteran. When David Graham, my former boss at Canongate approached uslast summer, we knew his experience, outlook and reputation would help us to refine our offer to the publishers wepartner with, as well as growing the company. Im delighted that David is here with me today.So. The publishing industry needs to innovate fast in order to justify the place it holds in the value chain, and to avoidbeing disintermediated by other players in the game.And disintermediation is happening.
  • 43. The Jamie Oliver cooking app is a fantastic example of a disruptive technology Three years ago, this would have been acookbook associated to a TV series. Now, there is no publisher in the equation.
  • 44. In the past few weeks, we have heard of Ian McEwans agent selling his backlist to Rosetta;
  • 45. Janklow & Nesbit contracting direct with Vook; and
  • 46. Amazon contracting direct with a former Bloomsbury author.My sense is not that these are exceptions, but the first waves of a potential flood of authors and agents lookingbeyond the usual suspects as the right partners to bring their clients to market.They are looking for partners who understand how to create products that consumers will find relevant in an ever-changing media landscape.Were not saying you need to blow up your business and start over as a converged digital house to survive this period.But there are definitely a number of other people like us doing digital things faster (and better) than publishers arecurrently.These new players are getting attention of stakeholders frustrated with the slow pace of change in publishing. Forexample, here is what Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials and a forthcoming Enhanced Edition, has to sayabout what it feels to be an author right now.
  • 47. The author’s perspective Philip PullmanI think it’s clear that change is being imposed on the publishing industry and its current value chain and businessmodels.However I also think it’s clear that there is space for different types of business models and value chains in the newworld.
  • 48. 1 2 3 What will your What skills do What do you value chain look you need to need to do like in 2013? manage that today? value chain?Given what we’ve said, the value chain that we created and the changes that are being imposed on the currentpublishing business model, I think there are number of questions our experiences imply for the industry: 1. What will your value chain look like in three years time? 2. What new skills do you need to manage that value chain and what skills will you no longer require? 3. Given this, what do you need to do tomorrow?
  • 49. “ What matters most is how well you walk through the fire. Charles Bukowski ”We set up Enhanced Editions out of frustration that neither our clients, nor our heroes, were "thinking different"about the book.Instead they were coming out with more of the same: Sony reader, Kindle, even iBooks. These technologies allreplicate the current experiences, structures and roles of publishing.With Enhanced Editions, we provided a peek towards a new direction for publishing, a new direction that we arepursuing aggressively, but experimentally.That coincided with a sea change in the industry, and it captured imaginations - I hope because it was almostshockingly simple in its vision and execution.For the first time ever publishing is suddenly moving incredibly fast, to the point where it is almost turning into aspectator sport. There are lots of new entrants offering their own threats, and opportunities, all jockeying for position.Who knows where it will be in 3-4 years? Doubtless, parts of the business will disintegrate, others will integrate.Publishers, it is all down to how we act collectively. Personally, I relish the opportunity to collaborate with the industryto find out which models and businesses will thrive. To experiment together.What Id like to leave you with is a quotation from a poet that I now interpret as a call to arms for how publishingsurvives this period of change. A fire has been lit underfoot publishing. And the next five years could not be bettercharacterised for publishers than through this quotation from Charles Bukowski.
  • 50. Thank you. peter@enhanced-editions.com"What matters most is how well you walk through the fire."Thank you.