Publishing News: How to improve ebook marginalia

Improving ebook note tools, ask for data and you'll get it, the ABA partners with On Demand Books

Here are a few highlights from the publishing world. (Note: Some of these stories were published here on Radar throughout the week.)

Pete Meyers on ways to improve ebook note-taking tools

Marginalia by Cat Sidh, on FlickrIs anyone happy with today’s ebook note-taking tools? I’m talking about what you get with Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and so on. You can highlight passages and add notes, but that’s pretty much where things start and stop.

Think about how limited that is, compared to what you can do in a print book:

  • Jot notes anywhere you like (e.g. blank pages in the back) to keep track of your overall reaction to the book.
  • Highlight non-contiguous phrases on a page, editing out all the boring bits and spotlighting the author’s best points.
  • Draw arrows, circles, and all manner of geometric curlicues, reminding you of how this section here relates to that point over there.
  • Construct simple diagrams (e.g. tree-like structures), if you’re the type who likes to think about ideas in terms of hierarchies.
  • Easily review all this stuff by flipping through the pages of a book.

None of that’s possible on any mainstream ebook reading system today.

So here are some suggestions, which, incidentally, I think would be perfect for an eager-to-experiment underdog (Kobo, are you listening?). Add a beefed up note-taking system similar to what I describe below and soon, I bet, you’ll get more business from serious readers.

  • This story continues here.

Ask for data and you’ll get it

New Yorker appIt turns out all the publisher hand-wringing of late about Apple not sharing consumer data was largely for naught. In a post on Forbes, Jeff Bercovici pointed out that publisher concerns that consumers wouldn’t share their data if given the choice were off base:

As things stand, if you buy a subscription to The New Yorker or Popular Science in the iTunes store, you will get a little dialogue box asking if it’s all right if Apple shares some of your personal information with the publisher. Initially, publishers were worried, reasonably enough, that users would overwhelmingly say no. But they don’t. In fact, about 50 percent opt in.

And that opt-in statistic isn’t the only good news — some magazines also are showing impressive growth in new readers. And it looks like newspapers might be finding common ground as well.

American Booksellers Association partners with On Demand Books

The American Booksellers Association (ABA) announced this week that it would team up with On Demand Books to market On Demand’s Espresso Book Machine (EBM) to ABA member bookstores. An announcement post described the machine:

Essentially an ATM for books, the patented EBM and its EspressNet software system links to a vast network of content, enabling the instant distribution of books, on demand, at point of sale. With the push of a button, the technology prints, binds, and trims a bookstore-quality, perfect-bound paperback book, in any language, with a full-color cover, in minutes. It is an environmentally friendly technology since it eliminates shipping, returns, and the pulping of unwanted books.

Big news, but as Mercy Pilkington pointed out in a post for Good eReader, it doesn’t come cheap:

The licensing of the software per store is in the neighborhood of $25,000, and although the ten percent discount to ABA member stores will mean a massive savings, it just might not be enough to compete with the other so-called future of publishing, the digital e-reader.

To see exactly how the EBM works, check out this demo video:

Got news?

Suggestions are always welcome, so feel free to send along your news scoops and ideas.

Photo: Marginalia by Cat Sidh, on Flickr

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