Archive | Digital Publishing RSS feed for this section

Book publishing – some recent innovations

Book publishers experimenting with new models; books fighting binge drinking in Italy

Netflix models

An article on Wired.com looks at a new online fiction service called Rooster in which a book publisher adopts a magazine model to make itself more like Netflix!  The service uses a subscription based model that sends content to iPhones and iPads.  The daily chunks of content should take about 15 minutes to read and will deliver two books’ worth of content over a month.  Similarly, Waterstones in the UK has announced Read Petite – a ‘rich reading experience for time-poor readers’.

Another innovation learning from the Netflix model is Epic!  This app aims to encourage children to read by offering rewards for completing chapters or starting ‘reading marathons’.  For a monthly subscription, children have access to a library of over 2000 titles and can rate the books they have read.  The app also allows parents to monitor their children’s reading habits.

Book buying and book borrowing and struggling readers

The latest Pew report shows the link between highly engaged library users and book buying.  The report shows that ‘Library Lovers’ – the heaviest users of libraries and about 10% of the US population – are also frequent buyers of books, despite many of them experiencing a drop in income.

The UK Charity Quick Reads found that reading e-books can be particularly helpful for adults who may be struggling with their reading while 48% say e-readers  have encouraged them to read more.

Binge drinking – books to the rescue!

Sadly Neknominate, the social media drinking game, has spread around the world. In Italy a literary alternative to the game has been developed.  ‘Booknomination’ follows similar rules but instead of drinking, the nominated person must read a passage from a book over a webcam.  The initiative is on Facebook on the hashtag #booknomination.

Sources: Springwise; DigitalBookWorld; TheLocal; Pew Research Center; Publishing Perspectives; Wired.

Youth TV – ‘the need for speed’

The BBC’s youth TV channel to close; but a different story emerges in Belgium

In the UK the BBC has announced that it is to close its ‘youth-oriented’ TV channel and move the content onto its online platform the iPlayer.

Previous proposals to close down radio channels have been revised following public outcry.  In 2010 the BBC announced it wanted to close down two radio stations – 6 Music and the Asian Network.  Neither station was closed.

However, it seems unlikely that BBC Three will be saved.  The Corporation needs to make savings and this move alone could save it £50million a year. Some commentators have suggested the move is short-sighted.  The BBC is funded by licence payers and young people are the licence payers of the future.

In Belgium, VRT, the public service broadcaster has been developing digital projects to engage with its younger audience.  Rachel Bartlett, writing on Journalism.co.uk, describes how the broadcaster developed an internal ‘start-up’ to experiment with new platforms to re-engage with younger viewers.  The broadcaster has been consulting the target audience and is now developing three projects that reflect the way young people use and engage with social media:

  • a mobile video project on Instagram and Snapchat – Ninjanieuws
  • Sambal a Facebook-supported news platform
  • OpenVRT which encourages young people to collaborate with the channel via video, photography and blogging.

Key lessons – ‘the need for speed’

  • Keep videos very short
  • Embed animated gifs into articles – link out to YouTube
  • 15-second long videos helped launch Ninjaniews
  • Tell a news story on a 10-second Snapchat video
  • For the target audience (16-24) – focus on Facebook not Twitter
  • There’s no need for a homepage – Facebook drives traffic
  • Facebook also provides a home for ‘pop-up digital news products’ that respond quickly to certain trends

You can read Rachel’s full article on Journalism.co.uk.

The news behind a paywall – a success story from the Netherlands

The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are often cited as paywall success stories.  But how are smaller news outlets making paywalls succeed?

In the Netherlands, a news site called De Correspondent set a world record in crowdfunded journalism.

In September 2013 it took just eight days for 15,000 donors to raise over one million Euros.  The site has over 25,000 ‘members’, each of whom pays 5 Euros a month to access the site.

De Correspondent has succeeded because it has brought a fresh approach to digital only journalism.  Elements of its ‘manifesto’ challenge traditional aspects of news journalism.

  • Commercial model – the site is advertisement-free and has a profit ceiling of 5%.  They want to ‘sell content to readers, not readers to advertisers’.
  • Not ‘readers’ but ‘participants’.  The site was created to enable much more than reader comment.  Instead, it has a focus on building relationships between people and acknowledges the expertise of the community.  ‘Dialogue not ‘monologue’
  • A focus on themes and connections – the site moves beyond traditional news categories such as ‘business’ or ‘international’ and instead aims to make sense of a globalised world
  • Like-minded people – not target audiences
  • An emphasis on fact-checking – and emotion

The power of community has been used to fund the site, and to develop its content.  It is also the way in which the word is spread.  De Correspondent limits its advertising to promoting some articles via Facebook.  All other marketing is conducted by the members who share with their friends and followers.

Further reading:  De Correspondent website; GigaOm

When digital projects go wrong – lessons learned from the BBC

The UK’s National Audit Office has published its report into the failure of the BBC’s Digital Media Initiative.

The BBC’s Digital Media Initiative (DMI) was meant to enable BBC staff to create and share video and audio material on their desktops.  The BBC decided to create its own customised product.  However the DMI failed to deliver on its promise and was abandoned in 2013 at a cost of over £100 million.

Key stages in the project

  • The vision – the DMI would combine production features, a digital archive and a new archive database.
  • Project approval processes – the project was approved by the BBC Trust in January 2008
  • Consultants appointed – Siemens were granted a £79 million project in February 2008
  • Siemens contract terminated in September 2009 and the project was brought in-house – a new delivery date of February 2011 was set
  • In May 2012 a whistle-blower contacts the BBC Trust with concerns they are being misled about project progress
  • Work is halted in November 2012 pending a review and permanently halted in 2013

Too much focus on the technology – not enough on changing working practices

If the DMI was to achieve everything the BBC stated, it should have placed more emphasis on changing working practices with regards to archiving and production processes.  Instead, the project reporting processes focused almost entirely on the technology rather than considering changes to business practice.  Differences between the expectations of future users and those developing the technology were unresolved.

Poor governance and project management

  • When the BBC brought the project in-house it failed to appoint a senior project ‘owner’.  Instead, responsibilities were split across divisions.
  • The executive board applied insufficient scrutiny to the project when its attention was fixed on other major projects including the London 2012 Olympics
  • When the project was brought in-house there was little time left in the project plan to meet deadlines.  Neither did the BBC properly assess the value for money or risks of bringing the project in-house
  • Reporting processes were ‘not fit for purpose’.

The full NAO report is available here.

[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]

 

Paper and digital archives – preserving the present for the future

Germaine Greer, the author and academic, has sold her personal archive for £1.8million.  She is to donate the proceeds to support a rainforest charity.

The archive will be housed by the University of Melbourne in Australia and contains over 150 filing cabinet drawers of correspondence, manuscripts, videos and audio tapes, lecture notes, letters and diaries. Over the years, Greer has corresponded with some of the key thinkers, politicians, writers and actors of the age (Margaret Atwood, Indira Gandhi, Warren Beatty).

Germaine Greer herself has said about archives that they are “the paydirt of history… Everything else is opinion. At a certain point you actually need documents.”

The University of Melbourne archivist (Dr Katrina Dean) said that Greer’s archive had been “meticulously maintained” and some of the correspondence represented “a rich vein of social history on social, sexual and intellectual challenges and changes”.

In a piece for the Independent newspaper (31st October 2013), author Simon Garfield wonders whether this is the last of the great ‘paper-based’ author archives.  Salman Rushdie’s archive, which has been held at Emory University in Atlanta Georgia since 2010, is a mixture of digital and hard copy files.

The University of Melbourne is working to ensure Greer’s archives are available to future researchers and academics.  In 2012/13 the British Library was contemplating the 100 websites it felt should be preserved for future generations.  The websites it chose to preserve would somehow provide a state of the nation/way we live now resource of inestimable value to future researchers and historians.

One of the sites chosen was Blipfoto, a photo journal website which encourages members to take and save one photo a day – with accompanying explanatory text. The website now holds thousands of authentic pictures and stories.  It is, as Hazel Hall has written “…a collective record of human history”. It is images with context and meaning, which sets the site apart from the millions of images being saved (with no metadata) every day on other social media sites.

For a visual of how the size of curated photo collections compare with the mass of photographs on Facebook see the wonderful photograph taken by Starr Hoffman of the CEO of Blipfoto speaking at Internet Librarian International. 

[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]

Open access: academic libraries and article processing charges

Despite challenges, the new emphasis on OA provides librarians with a positive platform to re-establish their role in the research process.

A new report published by SAGE explores the current – and future role – of academic libraries in helping implement OA processing charges.  The report explores the current state of the art, and shares recommendations.  Although librarians support the goals and principles of open access, the OA mandates from funders are creating many challenges.

Institutional policies – still evolving

  • Although some participants reported full OA policies were already in place, the majority of policies are still ‘evolving’
  • Libraries at every participating institution are involved in OA policy development
  • Institutional repositories are an essential element
  • Participants expressed concern at possible shortfall in funding for author pays (‘gold’) OA publishing (RCUK is currently making some funds available)
  • Some institutions are making up the shortfall; others are not

What roles and tasks are librarians undertaking?

  • Entering into publisher OA agreements
  • Allocating funding for individual papers – including one library which split its total funds into equal quarters for the year
  • Most reported a low take-up of APC requests by researchers – many librarians are working to educate and advise researchers
  • Working with publishers to administrate the cost – a task which many reported as frustrating or overly-complicated

Recommendations

  • Funders should provide clear guidance on reporting and measurement
  • Publishers need to better communicate copyright options and which of their publications are RCUK policy compliant
  • More robust systems for managing APCs are needed
  • Cross-industry initiatives and international standards should be developed

The report Implementing Open Access APCs: the role of academic libraries summarises the round table discussions of a panel of academic librarians and other interested parties and is available for free download here.

[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]

e-content and e-reading

Is our long history with writing for and reading print on paper affecting the way we create and publish content on digital and connected devices?  Are many of us still struggling to ’forget the paper paradigm’?

The increased ownership of mobile and smart devices means we are already adapting our content publishing processes and there will be even more change in the future - wearable devices; smart TVs; speech-based interfaces let alone new devices and channels we haven’t even begun to imagine!

Content breaks free!

In a fascinating post for Harvard Business Review, Karen McGrane explores the new models we should be using to help us move on from the print-focused content.  Her advice includes:

  • Stop thinking about ‘pages’  - focus on content ‘chunks’
  • Content ‘chunks’ can be  assembled in different ways for different channels
  • Don’t focus only on text - the new content is a mixture of graphics, video and interactivity
  • Because content presentation will change with each platform, content must be separated from ‘form’
  • Content creators need to understand how digital publishing is different from print

e-books vs. paper – a blending of the best

The growth in e-book adoption and innovation has been well recorded here and elsewhere.  Several initiatives are looking to take the best of these different reading experiences to enhance the user’s experience.  Springwise has noted the launch of the Booke app which sets out to combine the best of paper and digital reading.

The app allows readers of a physical book to upload a picture of the front cover (or the ISBN) and search for keywords (using typed or spoken commands); save comments, notes and sections of text and share their activity with others.

The app reflects several key trends in reading including social/shared reading.

[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]

Digital consumers – the rise of the digital multi-tasker

KPMG has been researching consumer media behaviour for over five years – during which time we have seen social media go mainstream, the introduction of smartphones and tablets and the rise of digital delivery consumer companies such as Spotify and Netflix.

KPMG’s latest ‘Digital Debate’ report looks at the rise of the ‘digital multi-tasker’ and outlines action points for content providers.  Over 9,000 consumers in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Singapore, Spain, the UK and the US were asked about their media consumption patterns.  The report’s key findings include:

An insatiable appetite for media

  • Consumers split their time between traditional and digital/online media
  • People still spend marginally more time offline than online
  • People spend more of their media budget on ‘traditional’ media

However:

  • Spending for every type of digital media in the last year has increased
  • Spending on CDs, DVDs and video games has decreased
  • Ever increasing numbers of people watching mobile/tablet/streaming TV (30+% in Singapore; 14% in the US)
  • These ‘digital multi-taskers’ are interacting with TV in different ways, using second – or even third – screens.

The coming wave of online consumers can accelerate the digital shift

  • An emerging class of ‘mobile first’ media consumers.  Preference for online media is much stronger among the emerging mobile-centric class – particularly prevalent in emerging markets such as Brazil and China.
    • In China most consumers are getting their media via smartphones, tablets of laptops – very few rely on print media

Media and technology companies should cooperate to address this new wave

  • Cooperation across multiple industries is vital if effective new business models are to be found
  • Effective partnerships will ensure everyone will value from the arrangement – including the consumer

The report concludes with some lessons for advertisers that truly resonate for the information professional:

Embrace the new worldsome traditional models may still be working (TV may still be making advertising revenues from such big events as The X Factor or major sporting fixtures) BUT that doesn’t mean TV companies can ignore the new digital models.

Use customer metrics – make the most of the digital information available to you to really understand your customers and create stronger relationships

Get to know your digital multi-taskers – and focus on transforming their second screen experiences.

The report is available to download here.

Dealing with mission impossible – a publishing case study

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) disseminates scientific information in the interdisciplinary fields of geophysics.  With over 60,000 members worldwide, the AGU publishes books, research journals, newspapers and other scientific periodicals.

In 2012 the AGU announced a publishing partnership with Wiley.  And in September 2012 Freddie Quek, Director of Engineering for Wiley, was given four months to integrate the AGU content onto a single Wiley platform.  He shared his story of coping with this ‘mission impossible’ with delegates at the Association of Subscription Agents conference in London.

Targets

By 2nd January 2013

  • Start revenue earning
  • Ensure systems ready to support entire content chain
  • Ensure system works in a familiar way for all AGU customers
  • Give AGU customers access to all licensed content

Challenges

  • 17 systems to check
  • Non-standard content formats (one publication had no page numbers; one journal had seven parts – three of which had sub-parts)
  • Over 700 special sections of content
  • What to do about unique identifiers; new ISSNs required
  • Unknown unknowns!
  • Ensuring discoverability
  • Development to start before all requirement were clear

What worked

  • Creation of a 60 day plan
  • Number one priority across the organisation – 52 people on the team
  • Sense of commitment, urgency and importance of the project
  • Rapid decision making at all levels
  • Team effort by everyone and a can-do attitude
  • Strong business lead and close cooperation

Lessons learned

  • Focus on people over process
  • Embrace the challenge
  • Break some rules
  • Be brave
  • Use your best people

Many of us will be asked to take on ‘impossible missions’ at work.  Freddie’s best advice?  Deal with it!

Digital natives, digital immigrants and the information professional

It is now over ten years since Mark Prensky coined the terms ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital immigrants’ and called for changes in education and teaching to reflect the new digital landscape.  The terms were easy to understand.  We all knew whether we were natives or immigrants by our use of the word ‘digital’ as a prefix (as in “I have a new digital camera”).

In the years since Prensky published his paper, new labels (e.g. Gen Y/millennials) have emerged for the younger generations entering education and the workforce.  We have discussed how to support them and how to get the best out of them.  But just how useful are these labels and what is the role of the information professional in ensuring that our users can use digital technologies to maximum effect?

This topic was tackled at the first NetIKX event of 2013.  Karen Blakeman and Graham Coult explored current research and trends in information behaviours and sparked discussions about the changing role of the information professional.

Forget the labels

Just because they were brought up with some of these technologies, this does not make the ‘younger generation’ experts.  According to David Griffiths, we should not… “confuse tech savvy, tethering to mobile technology and an intimate relationship with Facebook, with transferable knowledge and skills around social networking and communication.”

Karen reminded us that, irrespective of the technologies available to us at the time, we all needed to be guided in information searching and research techniques.   Young people are image driven and interested in original sources, she explained but need support in filtering and evaluating what they find.

We must also keep in mind that the internet is NOT available to everyone and that in these economically challenged times, many younger people do not have access to the internet at home, while local library resources are also being squeezed.  Digital exclusion is still a major issue.

This explosion of content and tools should, in theory, open up opportunities for information professionals to offer guidance, filtering and curation to users as trusted intermediaries.   The challenge is to convince others that our services are financially and socially valuable.

Find out more about NetIKX here.

Karen Blakeman’s slideshow presentation is available here.