From Digital Doomsday to Digital Revolution …
The publishing industry isn’t going the way of the music industry. Indeed, North American revenue from both digital and print books is projected to grow from $37 billion in 2013 to $39 billion in 2018.1
Still, some see the proliferation of e-books as the last nail in the publishing industry’s coffin. Others view e-books as a godsend. The truth isn’t so black and white. Yes, e-books snuck up on traditional publishers and forced them to rethink their businesses. Yet e-books have also created new opportunities and new audiences.
1. Book Soundtracks
Booktrack is a service that provides soundtracks for e-books. These aren’t audiobooks. They don’t replace the reading experience, they augment it. For instance, if you read the e-book version of Oscar Wilde’s Selfish Giant, the booktrack plays through the headphones attached to your e-book reader. When you read about the giant building a wall, there’s the sound of a hammer hitting nails. When the giant walks down some stairs, sure enough, there’s the sound of footsteps.
2. Narrated Books
Amazon and Audible have long offered book lovers the ability to listen to an audiobook while simultaneously reading it on an e-book reader. Other platforms are now catching up. OverDrive, for instance, now offers this service. The company now offers publishers the ability to embed and synchronize audio in their e-books. For some books, each word is highlighted as the narrator reads.
3. Take a Shelfie
Ever wish you could have an e-book version of your favorite books that you bought in print years ago and would rather not re-buy in digital format? There’s now a service for this: BitLit.
To take advantage of this service, first use the BitLit app to photograph your bookshelf. The app then finds which of your books are eligible. Then you go through a brief validation and claim process to get your your free (or discounted) e-book.3
4. The Sky’s the Snippet
Some e-books provide a less than optimal reading experience. Fuzzy graphics. Mismatched font. Unreadable tables.
A new app by new media company Snippet, Inc. seeks to transcend these problems by providing a clean, media-rich, short form reading experience. Snippet allows writers and brands to embed videos, social media conversations, audio, and photos directly into the reading experience.
5. Digital Piracy
Digital rights management (DRM) works sometimes. Unfortunately, hackers can sometimes break DRM and steal your digital assets — books, songs, you name it. An alternative to traditional DRM is embedding imperceptible IDs into your copyrighted content. Digimarc does exactly this, enabling you to track your content across the internet.
- Thad McIlroy, “11 Topmost Digital Book Publishing Trends & Opportunities” (PDF), December 2014; archive. Excerpt: “PricewaterhouseCoopers … projected that total book revenue in North America, including consumer, educational and professional, will grow from $37 billion in 2013 to $39.4 billion in 2018.”[↩]
- The 2015 Digital Book World Conference and Expo was held in NYC, January 13 to 15. It featured 100+ speakers and 35+ exhibitors. Produced by F+W and Publishers Launch Conferences, it was attended by 1,500+ professionals from the global book community.[↩]
- Peter Hudson, Founder and CEO of BitLit Media, “Startups You Should Know About That You Might Not,” Digital Book World, January 14, 2015.[↩]