Thursday, 10 April 2008

6 Great new examples of digital books, digital publishing and digital book promotion

A while ago I wrote up a list of 5 great examples of Digital Books and Digital publishing ( Since then more examples have come to light and publishers are finding ever more innovative, digital ways to create and promote their titles. So I thought I was worth publishing a follow up list.

Here are my latest examples of digital books, digital publishing and digital book promotion:

1) Collaborative publishing

Open Source and collaborative working are growth areas and a number of authors / publishers are seeking to develop content this way. The final chapter of Wikinomics was left for readers to write at and the resulting work will soon be published. Charles Leadbeater published the manuscript for his latest book ('We-Think') online and invited comments and suggestions - authorship has been credited to himself and '259 others.'

Finally the 'Age Of Conversation' (as referenced by Nail Perkin here) has 275 bloggers all writing a small section which will then be weaved together to form a finished product.

2) Social networks around books

Publishers have been exploring social networks as mechanics to foster community around certain titles.

HarperCollins has launched Lola's Land, a soocial network for young girls based around Think Pink and Beauty*Licious by Lisa Clark.

The first HarperCollins social network, Authonomy, was launched in late 2007. Aiming to do what MySpace does for unsigned bands, Authonomy gives aspiring writers the opportunity to upload their manuscripts and connect with readers and publishing professionals.

Penguin also have an existing social network called Spinebreakers aimed at teenage book fans. Furthermore, last month Penguin launched its own online drama (a series of 2 minute videos based around Melvin Burgess's book 'Sara's Face'). Penguin also run a site called Blogapenguinclassic which aims to create discussion and community around Penguin Classic titles.

3) Books in Second Life

It was widely reported that Random House launched a branded Second Life island in May 2007. The Random House island allows readers to interact through organised gatherings - from book clubs and writers groups to launch parties.

However I have been into Second Life and whilst I can find 'Oprah's book club', I can't find the Random House island. The only reference I have seen is a comment on a blog post that it is on 'Sheep Island' - I will amend this post if I actually locate it!

4) Books using YouTube and blogs

The cute series of childrens books around the character of 'Fluffy Little Kitten' are being marketed in a number of ways on the internet. They are promoted through the Fluffy Little Kitten web page, Facebook activity and also through a range of associated blogs such as 'Fluffy's thought for the day' and 'Kittipedia.'

Books can be bought on Amazon or downloaded from the Fluffy Little Kitten website. There is also a downloadable picture to colour in and even a YouTube clip based on the disco scene in 'Too Many Kittens':

5) Automated publishing

Philip M. Parker (chair of management science at Insead) has developed an automated publishing system for business reports and business books. Often created around very niche subjects, Philip M. Parker's computer system trawls the internet for information, extrapolates figures and charts / graphs trends and data. With over 200,000 books published he is the most published author on the planet! Very impressive and a YouTube film showing the system in action is here:

6) Mobile Books

Cellphone novels have really taken off in Japan. Authors use mobile phones to publish and consumers use mobile phones to read them. Containing little of the traditional plotting and character development of a traditional novel, cellphone novels mainly of short sentences characteristic of text messaging.

In December 2007 Japanese publishers were shocked to find the year-end best seller tally showed that cellphone novels (republished in book form) have come to dominate the mainstream, with 5 of the top 10 best sellers originally cellphone novels! When cellphone readership is included the sales volume is even higher - definitely a trend to watch!

The New York Times published a detailed analysis here:

I'm sure things will keep developing and I will write another list if I see anything else of interest in the digital publishing world.


john said...

Great post, online is the best tool to generate the revenues for print publications. As the trend changes, readers also changed and they are looking for instant news reach and money savings. Having online edition will give more benefits as its production cost is less when compare to traditional publishing, instant reach, attract advertisers, user can access from anywhere, etc…

Publishing over web, blogs, social media, RSS, pod cast, mobile, etc… are the emerging trends in publishing industry and these mediums made huge difference in circulations. Companies like helping the print publishers to distribute over the above mediums and helping in revenue generations. I think using these kinds of services would be advantage to the print publishers.

Nick Burcher said...

Good points. I think it is an interesting time for print publishers. Hollywood and advertisers have seen how clever viral seeding can produce buzz around upcoming releases and I think print publishers are coming to terms with this world too.

There are definite benefits to releasing content online first (be it a book publisher releasing the first chapter or the Guardian publishing news online before in print) and social bookmarking services like Digg and Delicious are helping to bring content to a wider audience.

I was also intrigued to see that Philip M. Parker (number 5 on my list) is in the New York Times today talking about his system! (NY Times - Philip M. Parker)