Publishing News: Apple shifts on subs

Apple softens its subscription position, metadata could improve academic searches, and ebooks offer a new purpose for edits.

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

Richard Ziade on the effect of Apple’s in-app subscription shift

AppleDeveloper.pngApple has stepped back from its in-app subscriptions rules that were to begin June 30. No doubt this will have a wide reaching impact on publishers’ app development strategies. (MacRumors has a nice rundown on the changes.)

Richard Ziade (@richziade), founding partner of Readability, wrote an open letter to Apple earlier this year after their app was rejected for not complying with the in-app purchase API rules. I reached out to Ziade via email to see how the new announcement might affect his company’s development plans. Our short interview follows:

What is your reaction to the Apple announcement reversing the in-app rules?

Richard Ziade: We just heard about it, and we’re wondering how official it is, but overall I think it’s good news. I’m glad they’re softening their position here. I think the outcome will lead to a lot more interesting apps on iOS.

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New metadata framework will help students and educators discover legally usable resources

CreativeCommonsLogo.jpgEarly this week, the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) and Creative Commons (CC) forged a partnership to improve search results for learning resources. The plan is to create a metadata framework to specifically improve academic web search results for use by students and teachers. A release from the AEP indicated an expectation that search engines would welcome the new framework:

Adoption of the education metadata schema by the search engines and by content providers will be voluntary, but because of the implicit support of the major search vendors and the participation of both commercial and non-commercial providers, widespread acceptance of the framework is anticipated.

What might be more interesting about this is that with CC as a partner the new metadata framework will also help identify content that can be legally used. Catherine Casserly, CEO of Creative Commons, noted in the release:

Educators and students miss out on education resources available online because it takes too long or is too hard to find appropriate content. A common metadata schema will make this search more efficient and effective so educators can quickly discover the educational resources they want, including those they can reuse under Creative Commons licenses.

Given that it might help alleviate concerns or confusion with copyrighted content, this new search framework could have applications beyond education as well.

The art of editing in storytelling

This post is part of Peter Meyers’ project “Breaking the Page, Saving the Reader: A Buyer & Builder’s Guide to Digital Books.”

By now you’ve probably seen that crossed-out text style that bloggers use to indicate revisions:

Never, ever Only if you’ve tried everything else is it okay to give your crying baby a shot of vodka.

While some regard this kind of formatting as overly cutesy, it serves a genuine editorial purpose: either slyly injecting a bit of humor or, for accuracy-minded folks, publicly preserving the revision trail. In a digital book, with just a bit more special sauce added (namely, animation), a live view of such changes could serve a similar role — one that might add an entertaining bit of dynamism to the writing.

In the hands of the right author, the creative possibilities are intriguing. Early passages in a novel could be presented anew to the reader, updated in front of them to incorporate new information. Characters could shine a spotlight on previous exchanges and “edit” or comment on what they said, or what they wanted to say. It’d be like having the ability to re-do a fight with your spouse. Okay, maybe that one’s better left imagined. But that’s why we’ve got books! So we can read about crazy people and gauge how closely, or not, they resemble us.

I’ve run across one example recently where the writer — a video game reviewer — used the effect to underscore the iterative story that awaits anyone who plays “Infinity Blade.” You can watch the page in action by visiting it yourself, or get a quick taste by checking out this screencast I recorded.

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