Stanza - A Lifetime of Reading in Your Pocket: Lessons Learned from Stanza, the iPhone eReader - Neelan Choksi


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BNC Tech Forum 09 - Neelan Choksi will highlight the lessons learned after launching Stanza, Lexcycle’s flagship electronic book reader for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Choksi will cover a variety of topics including the value of marketing, the effectiveness of different publisher strategies, the importance of standards and user perspectives.

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  • Talk about Lexcycle – “Revolutions in Reading”Company behind Stanza, most popular e-book reader application for the iPhoneFounded in 2007
  • The other important thing driving adoption that shows significant promise is the creation of a standard format.Full disclosure – Stanza iPhone supports EPUBFull disclosure – Lexcycle is a member of the IDPF and I am running for a IDPF board seat.Like offensive lineman, the only time you notice a format is when there is something going wrong. Need enforcement of a consistent standard.ePUB compliance needs to mean something.
  • I want to spend a little time talking about the characteristics of the iPhone that really distinguishes it as an eReader
  • 5500 survey respondents on
  • Lots of credit to Sara Lloyd and MichaelBhaskar for noticing us right when the App Store launched
  • We’ve learned a lot about price sensitivity around e-books from iPhone: TMM app. Since we launched on December 20, initially we were sending reports to Andrew on a daily basis – he was nice enough to not ask for a report on Christmas
  • We’ve learned a lot about price sensitivity around e-books from iPhone: TMM app. Since we launched on December 20, initially we were sending reports to Andrew on a daily basis – he was nice enough to not ask for a report on Christmas
  • If I have you take away one thing, this would be it.
  • Maybe something like Air Canada and Air Canada Jazz
  • Lexcycle is the company behind Stanza.If Kate Bosworth was actually on the MIT Blackjack Team, I might still be a professional gambler.Here comes some Johnny come lately smart ass telling me how to run my business…What does this guy know about publishing or about any of this…Hell, why is this guy even here
  • What does this all mean?This time it is different.After 20 years, the reality of e-books is finally matching the hype.It already is. Barnes & Noble returning to the ebook world after a famously exiting it in 2003 is significant.The numbers are saying that this is real…
  • 2008 - $111.6 billion print : $1.3 billion e-books⌘worldwide2012 - $123 billion print: $6.8 billion e-books⌘⌘ Source: PWC Global Entertainment and Outlook 2008 – 2012Why do I believe that after decades 2008 is finally going to be the year where e-books hit an inflection point? 1) I have to rationalize that given that I gave up a pretty sweet job to join Lexcycle
  • Can not under-estimate the effect of OprahThat said, keep in mind that this is not the first time Oprah has pitched an ebook reader… Rocket eBook back in the day was on of Oprah’s favorite things.
  • Amazon, Sony, Google… its not just about folks you’ve never heard of before like us.Competition is a great thing for consumers and for publishersThere has been some technological advances…
  • Doesn’t it feel like there is a new dedicated reader announced every month
  • 10 years ago – larger devices – people are not going to give up twitter, mobile browising, reading attachmentsOlder devices were not same level of distinctionEvery manufacture is moving towards consumer oriented large screen iphonesEmphasis on miniaturization smart phones (PDA switched to smaller devices and that caused a false start).Why is this not a fad? Everyone is following it? Not a one-shot situation. Repreeentative of an overall trendA lot of folks thought that mobile was going to be it 5 - 7 years ago for readingWhat ended up happening was the drive to miniaturization with PDAs and the net result was that the smaller devices weren’t great for reading.The reason why this is different is because this isn’t a 1 hit wonder – other vendors have been following Apple’s lead with …
  • Stanza - A Lifetime of Reading in Your Pocket: Lessons Learned from Stanza, the iPhone eReader - Neelan Choksi

    1. 1. Brave New World Reading Electronically 2009 O’Reilly TOC Conference Book Net Canada Technology Forum 2009 Neelan Choksi March 12, 2009 COO, Lexcycle twitter: stanza_reader
    2. 2. Who Am I? • COO, Lexcycle • Former COO, SpringSource – open source • President and Co-Founder of SolarMetric (acquired by BEA Systems in 2005) • Previous Employers – Exxon, Andersen Consulting, TechTrader, MIT Blackjack Team • External Board Seats – SpringSource, Tasktop • BS from MIT, MS from Stevens Institute of
    3. 3. Last 30 Days in e-books • Feb 5 – Google Book Search for iPhone • Feb 6 – Amazon hints at mobile device solution • Feb 9 – Amazon Kindle 2 Launch • Feb 16 – Adobe Reader Mobile SDK 9 • Feb 25 – Indigo Shortcovers launched • March 4 – Amazon Kindle for iPhone Launch • March 5 – B&N acquires Fictionwise
    4. 4. e-books – Inflection Point • $52 million Wholesale e-book sales in last 4 quarters * Source: IDPF US Trade Wholesale Electronic Book Sales
    5. 5. The Drivers of the Opportunity
    6. 6. Mainstreaming of e- • Oprah Effect books
    7. 7. Big Name Vendors
    8. 8. New Hardware • Netbooks • Lots of new eReaders
    9. 9. Improved Displays: E Ink
    10. 10. Improved Mobile • Larger touchDisplays color screens w/ crisp • OTA, wireless • App Store
    11. 11. Challenges of Navigating the Waters
    12. 12. e-book Alphabet Soup Formats DRM - - - .LIT Microsoft Reader HTML - - - Mobi Adobe Adept RB - - - AZW eReader CHM - - - PDB Mobi OEB - - FB2 Apple FairPlay - - PDF DNL - - RTF many others - BBeB - EPUB
    13. 13. Enter IDPF’s EPUB • Standard format – users don’t want to care about formats (or DRM for that matter) • Proliferation of proprietary formats (and DRM) is bad for users, creates lock-in for vendors • Standard format eases a historical burden of conversion
    14. 14. The Main Players Sony Reader Amazon Kindle
    15. 15. So Many More Devices • • Aztak Mentor EB- Plastic Logic Reader • 900 Fujitsu FLEPia • • iRexiLiad Polymer Vision • Readius STAReBOOK • • BookeenCybook Wizpactxtr • Gen3 Onyx Boox • • Bookeen FoxiteSlick • Ganaxa GeR2 • HanLin eBook
    16. 16. Mobile Reading iPhone Other Devices • • Stanza FBReader • • Kindle for the iPhone eReader Pro • • eReader MS Reader • • Shortcovers Global-Reader • • Classics Mobipocketebook • Reader BookShelf • • … many more BookZ • Libris • standalone books apps
    17. 17. Stanza Overview
    18. 18. iPhone Distinctions As an eReader: • International reach • Color display • Multi-function device • Built-in wireless • No external light required • App Store
    19. 19. Stanza iPhone & iPod Touch •1.5 million users in 60 countries • Over 7 million books downloaded • 100,000+ books available (half free) • Translated to 12 languages • Featured in: • NY Times, Boston Globe • Time “Top 11 iPhone Applications” • Forbes • Wired “10 Most Awesome Apps” • iTunes Top Applications of 2008
    20. 20. Sources of Commercial Content • All Romance eBooks • Books on Board • Fictionwise • O’Reilly Media • Smashwords Buying patterns representative of print sales
    21. 21. Sources of Free Content • Harlequin • Feedbooks • Project Gutenberg • Munseys • BookGlutton • Random House
    22. 22. Primary Usage • In bed – 31% • Commuting on bus / train – 29% • In waiting areas – 13% • At home – 12% • At work – 5% • At a bar or café or lunch or dinner – 5% • On an airplane – 5% • 2 write-ins mentioned “In the bathroom” Readers enjoy having access to their library at all times in their pocket or handbag
    23. 23. Publisher Promotions • Pan Macmillan Excerpts – first to notice Stanza • Random House Free Titles - Back list of certain authors - Included excerpts for forthcoming books • Harlequin Free Titles - 4 free “Minis” in December - 15 free titles from each imprint in January
    24. 24. O’Reilly Book • O’Reilly’s iPhone: The Missing Manual application Application • Currently at TOC discounted price of $4.99
    25. 25. Hunted Book Application • Released March 10 – same day as physical book • $17.99
    26. 26. Lessons Learned
    27. 27. Lessons Learned - Readers Its all about the people who are reading!
    28. 28. Lessons Learned - Readers • Quality matters – Virtuous or Vicious Cycle • Every reader is unique – Give readers lots of options to customize their reading experience • Every device is unique – Things that work for one device may not work on another device • Listen to the user – they are happy to tell you what you are doing wrong • Give your readers a voice
    29. 29. Lessons Learned – • Holistic viewReaders of the entire experience for a reader: (continued) Search / Pur- Down- Start Find browse chase load Readin book content book book g Available via partners. • Not enough to focus just on one piece. Readers expect more.
    30. 30. Lessons Learned – Readers • Moving users from established behaviors takes time and patience (continued) • Friction = bad • Immersive reading
    31. 31. Publisher Lessons • Calls to action need to be clear and contextual • KISS – make it simple for the user • Hold your technology providers, conversion houses, and distributors to a higher standard • Keep experimenting – be bold • Have a budget for marketing e-books • Think about multimedia • Support EPUB • Support DRM-free
    32. 32. Publisher Lessons • Figure out ways to support your authors better in the electronic world - Websites - Blogs, Twitter, Social Networking, Book Trailers - Understand the technology • Don’t let this just turn into a blockbuster industry: - Find self-service methods and appropriate revenue splits for mid-tier authors
    33. 33. Author Lessons • Make sure your publishers are making your books available electronically: - Minimum formats: EPUB, AZW, PDF • Don’t leave marketing just for the publishers - Twitter, Blog, You Tube, Discussions - Be out there