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Sourcebooks NEXT.

Sourcebooks Next Blog

We’re at a historic point in the transformation the book.

Ebooks, reading devices, retailers and e-tailers, software and apps, and all the cool things we haven’t even imagined yet are changing the face of reading, entertainment and learning. Sourcebooks Next is our blog looking not from the perspective of pundit or prognosticator, but from the perspective of a publisher deeply engaged in the workings of the transformation. Please feel free to join us.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I thought you might be interested in this interview I gave at DBW '11 (a few weeks back), where I discuss in more detail the latest insights we've gained on the transformation of the book industry and the strategies we're employing to move forward.

Some of what I talk about:

• A few lessons learned in connecting voice/authors to readers
• The strength of independent book publishers...could that be an advantage right now?
• Conceptualizing new digital ideas in partnership with authors, for example, the Fiske Interactive College Guide (which is today New and Noteworthy at the App Store!!)
• The problems of discovering new books on the internet and upcoming discovery experiments
• The search for new business models

As always, I love having this conversation!

How are you experiencing the changes taking place in book publishing today? What do you think makes it not publishing as usual?

Let me know what you think,

Friday, February 11, 2011

For the last 18 months we've been working on developing a digital roadmap for The Fiske Guide to Colleges, which is the #1 bestselling college guide in the country.

It's been interesting on two fronts.

The first is the actual roadmap, determining what the digital products should be. What would enhance the experience? What would provide further support for parents, students and educators going through the college search process?

The second is about watching ourselves going through the process. What is the role of a traditional book publisher in this kind of development? When do we stop being a traditional book publisher? And that's interesting because it's all new ground. There aren't good models here. It's a new world for us all.

So today we get to introduce the first part of that roadmap, The Fiske Interactive College Guide iPad app, now live on the App Store!


We've also put a quick video together to showcase some of the functionality. I urge you to check it out (I admit being in love with this video):

You can read more about the app here:

To put the app in further context, read what Jacques Steinberg, the Education Editor of the New York Times, has to say.  He just wrote about Fiske Interactive in The Choice: http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/11/fiske/

There's a lot more to say about Fiske Interactive. And the marketing for all of this development is extensive. But today I just wanted to share this app that (I think) takes a step forward in reference publishing.

Let me know what you think,

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Are we reading more because of ebooks?

How is reading changing because of ebooks? This weekend I posted a Twitter poll asking ebook readers for their impression of any changes that were occurring in their reading habits since they started reading ebooks. Obviously twit polling is not a scientifically rigorous methodology. We know that self-reported behavior differs in some important ways from actual behavior (often making us look better in our own eyes for example), and I'd also suggest the respondents here lean to heavy users. But I thought it was interesting to at least see what people believed about what they were doing.

Of the more than 200 people who answered the poll:

•  80% believe that they're reading either somewhat or much more than before. (I reclassified some of the other category when it was clear the person was reading more)
•  14% believe that they're reading about the same
•  And 4% believe that they're reading less (either much less or somewhat less)

    Here's what the poll looks like:


    (By the way, that 80% was consistent right from the start of the poll.)

    What also interested me were the comments on twitter, LinkedIn and left in the "other" category of the poll. We had 211 poll respondents, but only 7 left comments and only 8 commented on LinkedIn so we should be careful not to over-generalize:

    •  People are reporting buying more books, whether or not they read them:
    "I buy a lot and read only a small part of it"
    "Buying but not reading"

    •  They're also reporting a greater breadth of reading (as if they're more willing to try to new kinds of books). For example:
    "Reading more varied material & reading more"

    •  And more simultaneous books being read:
    "I'm reading many more books at once than before"

    •  And there was a sense of more cursory, less deep reading:
    "I am reading 'more'... But I am also skimming more. . .reading faster, thinking less about what I am reading compared to how I used to read"
    "I am reading more cursory."
    ". . .going towards flicking through things and multitasking many things instead of committing to one thing."
    "'dark side' of e-books. . .I'm sacrificing ever more depth for breadth. . ."

    But those comments were not universal:

    "I read the same way -- I'm interested in the language and not the ink and paper. I read more because it's more convenient to have a large number of books with me always."

    "Ahh, now my experience is different. Perhaps that is because I have a Kindle, not an iPad - so there is less temptation to do other things?"

    "My reading experience hasn't really changed that much, I tend to just plough on through the book regardless of the format....until I have finished what I am reading."

    How widespread is any or all of that? We don't know. Since reading ebooks is relatively new for most people, we are seeing only the early stages of  changes that may occur in our reading habits. And what happens as people become more familiar with and skilled at new reading habits? Time will tell.

    So here's what I seem to be doing. I'm finding that I'm buying significantly more books, I'd estimate as much as 50% more. I'm also starting and dropping more books, which is completely new behavior for me (I used to have to finish a book before I could start another and I would always finish a book even if I didn't like it). Old habits seem to be gone.

    I too believe that I'm reading a lot more. And I seem to get more attached. So I find an author or series I like, I buy all of their books—right now— and then devour them in a weekend. Part of that has to do with availability on every device, so while I'm waiting in line at the airport I just keep reading on my iPhone. That sync function seems to allow for greater continuity of experience.

    What about you? Have you seen a change in your own behavior since you started reading ebooks? Please feel free to comment below and tell us what you're experiencing.


    Saturday, February 05, 2011

    In talking to ebook users, there seem to be some themes developing on this subject. I thought we'd get a quick read with a not very scientific poll and we could all discuss. So if you read ebooks, have you noticed changes in the way you read? Here's a quick poll. If you want to talk about what you're noticing, please add to the comments below.



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