This Christmas almost three million people found a shiny new tablet in their stocking. According to YouGov, this has taken the total number of people in the UK with a tablet to just over 19 million. For magazine publishers, this represents a huge opportunity, but it’s an opportunity in danger of being wasted.
The publishing industry is struggling. We all know that. It got caught out by the digital revolution and didn’t move fast enough to respond to the huge consumer behavioural shifts it engendered.
Henson launches new publishing division
The Jim Henson Company is launching a new publishing division this fall, leading with a series of seasonally oriented adventure books aimed at a core girls demo. In partnership with publisher Bloomsbury Children’s Books, Jim Henson Publishing will launch the Enchanted Sisters series this August with Autumn’s Secret Gift, the first of four books that will each be released at the start of a new season.
“We have a rich history of creating deep fantasy worlds,” says Halle Stanford, EVP of children’s entertainment at Henson. “Literature and books are great forums to tell longer adventure-quest stories with authenticity.”
The series tells the story of four Sparkles (Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer) who, along with Mother Nature, are responsible for turning the seasons and keeping nature in perfect balance. Adventure, friendship and wonder will all be mined for maximum effect throughout the series, according to Stanford.
In all of the industry talk aimed at the futile and (some say) abusive treatment of authors by traditional publishers, one often overlooked casualty of the availability of self-publishing options is the vanity press. While many would bid good riddance to the companies that charge authors thousands of dollars and hand them hundreds of copies of their print books to then sell themselves, there are right and wrong reasons for a vanity press to close its doors.
As not only print and digital publishing opportunities grow for indie authors, distribution options have also grown. Where authors at one time did not have the benefit of retailers like Amazon and Kobo to sell their titles for them, it was the vanity presses who had to step in. Now that authors have tools at their disposal to produce and distribute their own content at the click of a mouse and with little to no upfront fees required, the companies formerly known as self-publishing options are falling by the wayside.
Publishing in hard times
On the first day of the Cairo International Book Fair, which opened this week, the exhibition grounds were full of people coming and going carrying bags full of all kinds of books. At the Al-Shorouk Books Hall, some girls were inspecting the books and discussing among themselves which titles to buy.
“Books are very expensive, so we have decided to collaborate and develop a joint budget. This will allow us to buy books together and then swap them,” one of the girls explained. Another visitor to the Fair’s Hall Four said that books were expensive, but that there were significant discounts on offer at the Fair.
“I bought eight books for LE150. I would have paid LE200 for them outside the Fair,” he said.
However, despite the crowds at the Book Fair, the publishing industry faces numerous difficulties. Poverty and illiteracy are major obstacles, but books are also getting more expensive and beyond the means of many book lovers and consumers. Imported books are particularly expensive, and they are getting more so because of the increasing price of the dollar, something which is also true of paper for printing.
“About 65 per cent of a book’s price is that of the paper, and this has increased in price from between 33 per cent to 40 per cent over the past couple of years. Ink and other printing expenses have also increased by 25 per cent. The paper manufactured in Egypt is cheaper, but it is of worse quality,” said publisher Sherif Bakr, owner of Al-Arabi Publishing and Distribution.
With the troubles facing Egypt’s economy over the past three years, it is only logical that publishing businesses dealing in such luxury items as books would have suffered significantly from the downturn.
Some publishers say that publishing books in such hard times at all has become a risky business. In 2011, many publishers cancelled or postponed their pending projects, as the public left books behind in order to follow events on the TV news, talk shows and social media.
The iPad, 4 years today, was introduced – and the tablet publishing platform was born
A look at the new tablet publishing platform’s progress, its accomplishments and its challenges
On the last Wednesday of January, 2010, Steve Jobs strolled out on stage in San Francisco and introduced the iPad, confirming rumors that Apple’s new tablet would not be called the iSlate. TNM, just four weeks old, said that the iPad “should kill off the whole netbook category” and that has proved to be pretty much correct.
The iPad was priced far more competitively than many tech observers had guessed – $499 at the entry level. And while Amazon fought against the iPad with commercials that said the iPad was not as good a reading device – on the beach, in the bright sunlight – their efforts did little to stop sales. Eventually, Amazon got into the tablet game themselves with the Kindle, with a screen very comparable to the iPad.
Screwpulp, an ebook publishing platform that enables authors and readers to connect, has secured a seed investment of $330,000. Led by Start Co. Angels, a Memphis-based, angel investment group, with archer>malmo ventures and other angels participating.
Screwpulp plans to use the investment to enhance the shopping and reading experience for readers while improving the publishing tools offered to authors.
“We feel that the traditional book publishing model is daunting and leaves many great books to gather dust,” said Screwpulp’s CEO Richard Billings. “Screwpulp’s platform empowers authors with the tools they need to publish, market and profit from their work. Additionally, our demand-based pricing model gives clear indications to readers about the quality of a book’s content and puts the power of a book’s success into the proper hands, the readers.”
In a prior investment round, Screwpulp received an investment from Seed Hatchery, a Start Co. accelerator program based in Memphis, TN and Solidus Company, based in Nashville, TN.
“Screwpulp provides tangible benefits to both authors and readers, and Start Co. is proud to support that mission,” said Start Co. founder and CEO, Eric Mathews. “Richard and his team have fully leveraged the Start Co. platform from raw idea to 48 Hour Launch to Seed Hatchery and now Start Co. Angels. We are happy to be a part of this latest milestone.”