Will the Rise of Electronic Books Destroy Writing as a Profession?

  • During his bleak forecast of the publishing industry at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, novelist Ewan Morrison suggested the rise of the e-book will mean the end of writers as a profession, as piracy and a demand for steep discounts take over the book industry as it has with music, newspapers, games, porn, photography, telecommunications and home video.
  • Publishers will no longer be able to provide advances to enable writers to make a decent living and writers will increasingly depend on the “long tail” which cannot support them. Morrison adds that only established writers will prosper.
  • In 10 to 15 years, he believes the largest “publishers” will be Google, Amazon and Apple.
  • “The writer will become an entrepreneur with a short shelf life, in a world without publishers or even shelves,” predicts Morrison.

Game Developers Seek the Creative Freedom of Independent Firms

  • Experienced game developers are increasingly leaving the security of big publishers to work for small independent companies that offer greater creative freedom and the possibilities of making their fortunes through digital distribution.
  • Easy-to-use and inexpensive game creation tools also make it easier. Still, success stories are hard to find.
  • “Working for a major publisher can be rewarding, very quickly: you get to work on known IPs, you have job security, you get a good paycheck every month, you have the business card with the big name on it to show off to your friends,” explains Audrey Leprince of The Game Bakers, an independent developer of mobile games.
  • But there are downsides, she says. “You don’t really know how much you will be listened to or if your ideas will be taken into account, how much freedom you’ll have in your work, or if you’ll end up crunching on a B project after the perfect project you joined for gets cancelled.”
  • Developers also seek smaller independent companies when the company they are working for is acquired by a larger name and the environment changes. For example, Ars Technica cites a happy employee of Black Box who later felt like “a cog in the machine” when his company was bought out by EA, so he left for a position at Radical Entertainment. “It was a large but independent company with talented industry vets, free food, beer on tap… I was happy again,” he said.

MagAppZine 2.0: iPad Publishing App Lowers Price, Adds Newsstand

  • MagAppZine is a DIY app-publishing platform designed to lower the cost for publishers looking to create an application for the Apple App Store.
  • Starting next month, the 2.0 version will offer PDF uploads, website viewing and in-app sales of multiple issues (at a significant price drop).
  • “Co-founder Paul Canetti spent three years at Apple before leaving to launch a series of iOS training and development businesses,” reports ReadWriteWeb. “Then he started MagAppZine last July. It’s a simple looking publishing platform that democratizes access to publishing online — a little like blogging but for an App Store world.”
  • “Our most basic app package launched in April of this year,” explains Canetti, “but in September we are re-launching MagAppZine 2.0, which will include the new links and multimedia, an InDesign tool, and integration with Apple’s upcoming Newsstand feature. We’re also rolling out a new tiered monthly pricing structure that has plans starting at $99 a month.”

Entertainment Media Companies Not Ready for Digital Opportunities?

  • Most media and entertainment company senior execs believe they are not fully leveraging customer data that would make it possible to deliver customized content, suggests a new study by consulting firm Accenture.
  • The research indicates that 91 percent of these executives are not taking full advantage of the data, and as a result, are not adequately prepared to identify revenue opportunities related to current and future digital technologies. Additionally, 95 percent do not have strong digital customer relationship management capabilities.
  • If fewer than 10 percent of the companies have a fully integrated view of their digital consumers, a new operating model may be necessary for sustainable digital growth (Accenture recommends a shift from legacy vertical, channel-oriented structures toward a horizontally-layered operating model).
  • Only 55 percent said their companies had a clearly defined social networking strategy in place, while 80 percent believe the industry is still in a state of flux. And 42 percent anticipate that advertising will serve as their main source of revenue in the next two years.
  • Accenture’s “Global Media & Entertainment High Performance Study” canvassed 130 executives across Europe, North America, South America and Asia Pacific from industries including television, gaming, film, music, publishing, portals and advertising.

Former Apple Engineers Set Out to Reinvent the E-Book

Former Apple engineers Kimon Tsinteris and Mike Matas have created a digital creation tool that might have a dramatic impact on the “frictionless” self-publishing of electronic books. Book apps created with the platform will leverage the sensors, touchscreen gestures, microphone and graphics chip of the iPad and iPhone to create a more interactive experience for electronic reading. The duo’s Push Pop Press is getting an interesting start, with some help from former vice president Al Gore.

According to the Wired Gadget Lab: “Push Pop Press will be a publishing platform for authors, publishers and artists to turn their books into interactive iPad or iPhone apps — no programming skills required.” The app enables users to augment their stories with photos, videos and a compelling variety of interactive features, which could go beyond books to the publishing of magazines and newspapers.

Push Pop Press could become an affordable alternative to the tools featured in Adobe’s Creative Suite, commonly used for creating today’s tablet periodicals. For example, Tsinteris and Matas claim that interactive diagrams, geotagged photos and video content can easily be embedded in a book produced with the tool.

For those who may be interested in seeing the possibilities of Push Pop Press, the app version of Al Gore’s book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, is available for $4.99 via the iTunes store.

You can also check out Gore’s guided tour of the app on the Wired post or the Push Pop Press site. It’s worth the two minutes to see this in action.

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