Digital Publishing: Subcompact Publishing (via @craigmod, HT: @daringfireball)

Craig Mod takes a very good, and very long look at the core of digital publishing (with a focus on magazines).

… Zip drives ate floppies. CDs ate Zips. DVDs ate CDs. SD cards ate film. LCDs ate CRTs. Telephony ate telegraphy. Text messaging ate talking. Tablets are eating our paper …


Publishing incumbents have been faced with disruption for years. But a curious, natural thing is happening: another, increasingly difficult to dismiss publishing ecosystem — disconnected from and unbeholden to legacy — is emerging. Bubbling up.

Craig references Marco Arment's  'The Magazine' (to which I am currently subscribed) as a good example of a modern digital-first publishing attitude. He's right: every time I open the Magazine application and read through the issues I think to myself how awesome it would be if some of the speculative fiction magazines I read adopted the same form factor and approach.

The farther out we zoom, the clearer this becomes. A generalized print magazine may be composed of the following qualities:

  • Each issue contains a dozen or more articles.
  • Issues operate on a monthly cycle.
  • All articles are bundled and shipped at the same time.

Almost all of these qualities are the result of responses to distribution and production constraints. Printing and binding takes a certain amount of time. Shipping the issues takes another chunk of time. In order to find a balance between timeliness of content and shelf-life, a month makes a pretty sensible — if brisk — publishing schedule.

But of course in the digital world these constraints don't apply in the same way. Craig identifies a list of core effective features of a digital publication:

I propose Subcompact Publishing tools and editorial ethos begin (but not end) with the following qualities:

  • Small issue sizes (3-7 articles / issue)
  • Small file sizes
  • Digital-aware subscription prices
  • Fluid publishing schedule
  • Scroll (don’t paginate)
  • Clear navigation
  • HTML(ish) based
  • Touching the open web

Many of these qualities play off one another. Let’s look at them in detail.

And he does. Click through if you are interested in digital magazine publishing. It really is a worthwhile article: http://craigmod.com/journal/subcompact_publishing/#fn-ref-subcompact-11

Are Publishers Making a Killing on e-Books (via @publisherswkly)

This is part 2 of the original article here. eBook pricing is still all over the place; from my perspective as a reader the market still hasn't decided on the 'value' of a book stripped of its physical container, the content. In one corner of the internet it's a race to the bottom, in another it's priced comparably (or even higher) than the same book in print.

Adding some incidental charges, we figured the total cost for you to convert a previously published book to an e-book and print on demand paperback was $1,600.00, not counting the cost of marketing, advertising or publicity. How should you price your book to recover that investment and make a profit to boot? And how many copies must you sell to hit that number?

Richard Curtis over at Digital Book World continues to break it down; hopefully this will help a little bit to shed some light on the flipside of high eBook pricing.

Of course, it's all about expectations. A reader doesn't (and, honestly, shouldn't) care how much a book costs to produce: if it feels too expensive, it is too expensive. The trick is to change consumer expectations, and I don't think simply selling a digital book for $15 is a healthy way to do so. Readers are not your enemy.

Link: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2012/are-publishers-making-a-killing-on-e-books-part-2/

"Alot Was Been Heard" Automated eBook art project floods the Kindle store

This is a nice alternative to all the plagiarism-filled junk eBooks flooded onto the Kindle store:

A pair of artist-coders have unleashed a small army of bots designed to flood the Kindle e-book store with texts comprised entirely of YouTube comments. According to the artists, even they have no idea how many books their autonomous bots are posting to the store.

Christopher Mims over at Technology Review interviewed the creators of such timeless classics as 'Alot Was Been Heard' and 'Sparta My Have':

"The KINDLE'VOKE machinary is based on three major parts. (1) The "Sucker" a clever suction apparatus to gather comments from Youtube. (2) the "Ghost Writer's Table": the book compiler that handles generation of books content, book covers, authors at the same time. (3) The "Amazon Kindle Scatter Bots" that make the brand new digital literature available for all of us.

This is really original (and possibly annoying), and it's worth having a look at the kind of publishing chaos/market subversion our new digital world allows.

I suppose an alternative reading is that this is a kind of public graffiti, smearing digital feces over a shop front, but let's be a little upbeat about it for now, right?

Original here: http://www.technologyreview.com/view/428175/ebooks-made-of-youtube-comments-invade-amazon/