Posts Tagged ‘ebooks’

Frankfurt Book Fair 2013: Digital is Growing Up!

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

I have been attending the Frankfurt Book Fair for many years now. Many of you might agree with me when I say that there was a definite decline in the hustle-bustle during the first few days of the “Messe.” Although despite the calm, one could easily spot the influence of digital publishing everywhere. I believe, we are witnessing a maturity in the industry today – a growth in eBook revenues, widespread acceptance of digital business models and maturity in digital publishing processes. It’s now safe to say that digital is growing up!

PWC’s 2013 reports state that the size of the U.S. eBook market is at a $4.6 billion and the print market has stumbled down to $10.7 billion from last year’s $11.8 billion. This data reflect that there has been a rise in digital consumption and also that more publishers are investing in eBooks confidently. While print is still a large chunk of their business, publishers have implanted strong digital pursuits to meet the growing demands of the industry. The fact that the Fair was calmer than the previous years shows us that publishers are a lot more in control of their digital plans. Everyone has their own initiatives going.

The calm also reflects that the sharp rise in digital that took the industry by storm over the last four-to-five years, has reached a stage of maturity. Digital won’t stop growing but the growth will be a lot more paced now. The slowdown in the manic growth in eBooks along with visible revenue results from their digital initiatives has comforted publishers as they now understand the medium better and are a lot more prepared to tackle digital challenges. What was once a 1%-to-2% share of their total book business revenues has now elevated to 20%-to-30% and in a couple of years from now is expected to be a 50% revenue generator for publishers around the world. This reflects the widespread acceptance of digital as a “must have” business model complementing their book business.

There is a maturity in digital processes as well. What publishers are looking at right now is how to bridge the gap and draw a perfect balance of both – print and digital business models. It’s important for to find solutions that can marry the two in a beneficial, complimenting manner. Within the digital business itself, publishers can open up multiple avenues to best suit their specific requirements. We have been working with some of the biggest publishers in the world and have witnessed the sequential change in their wish-list; starting from doing something ‘digital’ to catering to specific target audiences (retail/institutional) to working with us on innovative ways of promoting their online content and to making their content rich, reachable and remarkable (enhanced eBooks for devices).

All in all, the Impelsys team had a great time at the Fair and we noticed a reduction in digital anxiousness and an evident rise in digital acceptance. We were happy to be recognized as thought leaders and we — along with our customers — are very excited to push forward in connecting with our consumers through content digitally.

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The Return of the Book Club

Monday, July 1st, 2013

There was a time in our industry when many of the major book publishers built direct relationships with their readers by creating “book clubs” in which they would send one book per month to their subscribers. This was an effective business practice that helped publishers increase sales, build awareness of their brand and cultivate loyalty among a base of readers.

Those were the days before retail chains and the readers depended on the big city stores. Publishers took it as an opportunity for promoting their brand and increasing sales. They recommended and promoted the most famous and noteworthy books in any category. The most important advantage that the book clubs could offer to their members was convenience.

With the rise of large book retail chains, such as Barnes & Noble and Borders, those readers suddenly had easy access to a large inventory of books within short driving distances. They discovered they could buy books any time they wanted, often for a discounted price, and publisher book clubs went on the decline.

There is good news for publishers: Thanks to the internet, with the rise in ebook consumption every year, publishers now have the opportunity to restore the old-fashioned book clubs.

Some forward-thinking publishers are leveraging the power of email marketing and social media to build interest among their readers in joining an “ebook club” in which customers gain access to a collection of ebooks for a monthly subscription. At Impelsys, we work with some consumer-facing publishers who charge as little as $3.99 per month for subscriptions to their ebook clubs and with some professional-facing publishers who charge as much as $19.99 per month.

Ebook clubs are gaining in popularity for three simple reasons:

• They deliver great value to the end user, by having simple online access to a library of books for a low monthly price
• They protect publishers from online retail competition, especially from the large sites that are able to extend deep discounts, by providing ongoing sales revenues and by creating a different online product in the form of a subscription.
• They help publishers build direct reader relationships so they can engage on a deeper level with their customers and strengthen their brand loyalty.

We’ve observed that the key to a successful ebook club depends on a range of factors including:

• Captured market: Having a captured market targeting a genre of readers. For example book clubs within specific content like romance, cooking, pediatrics, medicine etc. A publisher having content and loyal customers in a targeted market could create a successful ebook club. For example one of our customers, F+W Media (parent to Digital Book World) successfully built seven ebook clubs based on its strengths in categories like romance, arts and crafts, guns, writing and design, markets where it has a significant position.

An example of an F+W ebook club, Crimson Romance:

impelsys crimson romance

• Brand value: A publisher with a strong and loyal brand can build ebook clubs. For example, we’ve partnered with Sesame Workshop to build a successful ebook club for its globally renowned Sesame Street brand, which is a powerhouse in children’s publishing.

Sesame Street ebook club:

impelsys sesame

• Unique Content: Publishers that have unique or must have content in targeted areas of reader interest can turn this value proposition into a subscription based ebook club.

We have observed that the ebook clubs have enabled publishers to create direct relationships with their readers and generate revenues with monthly auto-renewals on their subscriptions.

The data below shows how one of our ebook clubs retained its customers over a six-month period:

Customer Retention Chart

Book clubs are a smart business strategy for publishers today, just as they were in their heyday. The rise of ebooks offers an excellent opportunity to put this strategy to work once again, driving book sales, enhancing brand awareness and building direct relationships with their readers.

This blog was featured in Digital Book World.

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Digital Learning Paths

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Over the years, technology has played a key role in the education scenario and has changed the way students learn. From computers to eBooks, education has drastically advanced over the years. With the integration of current technologies into the curriculum, classrooms are becoming more technologically involved than ever before. The adoption of eBooks over traditional print books is growing consistently. Perhaps the greatest impact of eBooks is the change in perspective. And for some time now, eBooks have been presumed as the future of education. The reasons have always been pretty apparent - they are a lot easier to carry around and can be obtained immediately.

However, the introduction of enhanced eBooks has made the process of learning and knowledge sharing a more interactive and delightful experience. There has been a shift in the consumption patterns of the students and learning has taken a more personalized form. Learning Plans are the latest innovation in the field of personalized learning to provide both instructors and students with an engaging and adaptable digital platform for learning. It is intended to increase learning efficiency and teaching effectiveness.
Since inception, iPublishCentral has undergone frequent, scheduled upgrades and enhancements. As part of our continuous innovation we have introduced iPublishCentral 4.2 that has the ability to deliver the next generation of enhanced eBooks on the iPad. The enhanced eBooks will be integrated with robust Learning Paths to offer an enriched learning experience.

The enhanced eBooks will empower publishers to offer a great interactive learning experience to its readers as they can now access content from the eBooks and create their own Learning Paths at the same time using their iPad. Learning Paths (LP) refer to an effective learning methodology that is intended to equip students with an easy and convenient way to organize content from different sources and create a content sequence that makes learning while reading easy for them. For instance if a student is preparing for exams, it enables them to select the important topics from the eBook, take notes from a lecture and add it as part of the study material for next exam, it also enables students to ask the teacher to mark important topics and paragraphs for a specific exam/certification, they can also share such study material with their classmates and friends.
In a nutshell, Learning Paths provide highly interactive learning experience to the students. Being equipped with detailed features, it enables student to:

  • add a selection (of text) from a textbook, a topic, or a chapter itself to a LP
  • add media and ancillary from the book to a LP
  • add custom notes, images, video, web link to a LP
  • edit the order of contents inside a LP
  • add a Table of Content for a LP
  • share a LP with anyone

Well, the scope of Learning Paths is significant for publishers, authors as well as end users and it will be interesting to watch how it is adopted. The team at iPublishCentral is excited and geared up to help publishers incorporate this interesting emerging trend. We look forward to the changes this will unravel over the next few months.

Please email your thoughts and suggestions to

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Big Data Analytics for Publishers

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Electronic publishing industry is waking up to the possibilities of Big Data Analytics. By definition, Big Data Analytics means mining and analysis of data sources and massive volumes of data to discover user patterns, correlations, emerging trends, and resultant revenue impact. Businesses worldwide have begun to employ such valuable pieces of information to better understand market dynamics and user preferences in order to make informed decisions that have a direct impact on the bottom line.

As the popularity and usage of eBooks soar, Big Data Analytics offers a huge opportunity for eBook publishers to analyze end user consumption patterns and maximize sales.

Here are a few examples of user data that eBook publishers can gather from exploring their content repositories:

  • Understand sales patterns
  • Gather information about the users’ geographical location and demographics such as gender, age, profession
  • Find out how time/ month/ holidays/ seasons effect the sales of certain eBooks
  • Understand the buying patterns and correlations
  • Discover particulars such as what pages of a book is read most/least, who is the favorite/ least favorite author in an anthology, where in the book does users spend the most amount of time, do people re-read the books
  • Understand the sales trends in an author’s collection such as has a buyer purchased multiple books by the same author and so on and so forth.

Obviously, unstructured data as such is not useful. What matters is how you interpret the data intelligently and use the analysis to gain a comprehensive perception and competitive edge.

Inferences derived by analyzing data can be used to:

  • Decide on marketing strategies
  • Provide recommendations to readers/buyers
  • Help you give suggestions and guidance to authors in order to improve the quality of the book
  • Provide titles that are more relevant and in demand with your target audience
  • Vary pricing and determine discount programs
  • Choose the best time/season and location to launch eBooks
  • Help you decide what languages the content be made available
  • Plan book tours and other promotional activities.

Consider a scenario where a children’s eBook publisher wants to launch a three-day marketing campaign for promoting a new eBook. Would it be better to let the campaign run from Monday through Wednesday or should the campaign run over the weekend? Analysis of buying patterns from the online store could indicate that most parents buy books for children on Saturdays and Sundays. This information would help make a better choice on when to run the campaign.

In the world of online content, time seems to travel faster and data tends to get outdated quicker. Therefore, gathering feedback about your eBook and reacting swiftly to fast-emerging trends is crucial.

Challenges of Data Analytics

Gathering adequate amount of reliable data for analytics systems is vital in providing statistically accurate predictions. Predictions made based on small data sets can cause more damage than benefits.

The other important aspect to consider is the buyers’/users’ confidentiality. It is not appropriate to gather information about users without their permission. A number of legislations have been passed to protect individual privacy on the internet and regulate the kind of information that can be collected from internet users.

Data Analytics at iPublishCentral

Publishers that use iPublishCentral as their eBook delivery platform have already begun to benefit in manifold ways from data analytics. For example, data about buying and reading patterns was used to provide suggestions in grouping books into collections. These collections have been well received and have contributed to increased retail revenue.


Well, we haven’t gotten to providing accurate alternative endings to eBooks based on personality types or modify the content of eBooks centered on learning habits of individuals. However, Big Data Analytics can provide powerful and advantageous business insights that can be used to improve quality, ease usage, and increase popularity of eBooks and revenue.

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Freedom to Read - a DRM free world?

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Electronic publishing industry’s rapid advancement is driven by electronic devices / tablets and the high consumption of the internet. There is a constant concern among publishers and authors regarding their eContent availability and and more importantly, its protection.

The ongoing discussion in the publishing ecosphere is whether dropping DRM (Digital Rights Management) would be a good move. Top level executives from the industry are brainstorming on the pros and cons of removing DRM completely from all eContent. Quite a few publishers have announced to waive off DRM completely as it prevents them from using legitimately-purchased eBooks in perfectly legal ways, like moving them from one kind of e-reader to another.

Cost per download, device or platform lock-ins and device fragmentation are some of the reasons which compels publishers to drop DRM. Consumers are also quite technology savvy these days, they read on a variety of devices and find DRM a deterrent to accessing content on a variety of reading devices. One of the announcement by Tor/Forge to go DRM-free by July has made publishing giants to think on whether dropping DRM is a reasonable call. According to Tor/ Forge “They’re a technically sophisticated bunch, and DRM is a constant annoyance for their authors and readers”.

In the past Apple revolutionized the sale of Digital music when they started providing DRM free downloads through their iTunes service. This started the DRM free revolution in online sales of music. If history were to repeat itself, if 2 or 3 top tier publishing houses were to drop DRM on eBooks, most other publishers would follow suit.

Removing DRM allows the small retailers and distributors to compete effectively with the current major players.This in turn will encourage diversity in the retail sector, force the current these players to inter-operate with other supply sources (or face an exodus of consumers), and undermine the tendency towards oligopoly.

The winner here would be the consumers, who are able to use the content they have bought on any of their devices without restriction. If they can find content without any restriction in the format they require easily, the likelihood of them purchasing it is so much higher. If they feel DRM is restricting their consumption, they are forced to look for “alternate” (and often illegal) sources of content. Studies by a prominent digital publisher have shown that dropping DRM in their case has actually more than doubled their sales in a pilot they ran.

Dropping DRM many not have an immediate positive impact on the sales across the board, but rather will have mixed impact. Whereas smaller publishers and retailers will have an upper edge than the big retailers like Amazon. Finally, going DRM free completely can take time and will undergo many more discussions and analyses before the final decision.

The future of DRM is something we will have to wait and watch, and can have mixed results for different publishers. In my opinion, DRM should be completely removed in order to give consumers freedom to consume eBooks when and how they want. After all, keeping a customer happy would only drive up sales of eBooks and not the other way around.

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Understanding the ‘Readership’ paradigm

Friday, February 17th, 2012

To know  your readers better, it’s important to peep into the readership paradigm and understand the dynamics of a reader’s mind. We have tried to collate certain attributes that largely explain how important it is to know your readers before formulating a strategy to even reach them.

  • Understanding the reader’s experience

To better formulate your plans, the best way to start is to understand the reader behavior patterns and stay updated of the key industry trends.  It is absolutely essential to buy books from different retailers, download them on to your device and read them. This is a relatively a small monetary investment compared to the insights you will receive in doing so.

  • Adapt the technology that readers are using

To best reflect the technology adoption in your digital publishing assets, the first step is to understand the technology that the readers are skewed towards. It’s important to understand the metrics of how and where most of the readers are reading their books today. The winning side is the one that will embrace the new technologies, and figure out how to leverage them into revenue.

  • Track your readers online

To better understand what your readers are reading and what topics they are following, it’s important to track them where they are – Online. Publisher analytics has gained momentum. Your readers are more than Google Analytics’ “Unique Visitors” and “Page Views.” They are people with unique backgrounds, needs, and wants. They have problems for which they visit your blog to get solutions. Many of your readers are like-minded individuals having similar needs and desires. However, the keyword here is “individual”. Each reader will view your content within their own context. To be successful, you need to be aware not just of needs and wants but of context so you offer the right solutions for your readers.

Become a Reader

The best way to understand you readers is to become one!

Not knowing much about your readers brings extreme struggle to provide relevant and valuable content and information, which will eventually translate into inability to build readership, authority and generate income.  The best way to interpret your readers and understand their reading habits more clearly, still remains to be in becoming a reader of your own content.

This article was featured in the iPublishCentral Newsletter. To subscribe to our newsletters, write to us at

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2011 – A year of acquisitions?

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Hardly a month into 2011 and news of several large acquisitions hit the papers. Now as the first quarter-end closes in, we see this trend more growing. Is more of this likely to be seen in the coming months? We seem to think so. Read on for the most interesting acquisitions so far and feel free to add more to this list.

Samsung buys Liquavista

In January this year, makers of the Galaxy Tab Tablet PC and several e-reader models, Samsung confirmed the news of its acquisition of a Dutch-based digital publishing company, Liquavista. Liquavista’s Electrowetting technology could help Samsung build better displays that offer enhanced outdoors visibility, like e-ink, and also save on power consumption while delivering faster refresh rates. The Samsung Tablets and smartphones too, are likely to be the beneficiary of such innovative display technology.

Pearson increases stake in TutorVista

Pearson, one of the world’s largest publishing groups and owner of The Financial Times, Pearson Education and Penguin, has increased its stake in Indian education firm TutorVista to a controlling level of 76 percent, for approximately $125 million.

The deal, one of the biggest transactions ever in the Indian education sector will expand Pearson’s business in education in India and in global online tutoring. Pearson had previously acquired a minority 17% stake in Bangalore-based TutorVista in June 2009.

TutorVista is primarily engaged in providing online tutorials to students in North America, supplying digital content and technology platforms to schools and providing services like curriculum design, teacher training and school administration services.

Pearson also has another Joint Venture in India with publicly traded learning solutions company Educomp, which develops vocational and professional services for the Indian market.

Google buys eBook Technologies

Early in January 2011, Google acquired eBook Technologies, a company that focuses on hardware and software distribution of e-books and e-book readers. The firm sells technology used to operate digital reading devices as well as publishing software and tools. Speculation is that Google wants to jump into the tablets, e-readers and other portable devices.

The acquisition came weeks after Google opened the eBookstore e-commerce site, where readers can browse and search through more than more than three million free books.

Proquest buys Ebrary

Ebrary, one of the pioneers in aggregating books and other print content online, hosts more than 273,000 digital books, handbooks, reports, maps, journals and other content from about 500 publishers that it offers to libraries and other institutions under a variety of services and platforms.

Ebrary, which has recently been acquired by ProQuest will continue to invest in Ebrary’s products and services for the academic, corporate, and public library markets. ProQuest will also expand Ebrary’s selection of research tools and ability to support new e-book devices as well as broadening language coverage from its current support of major European languages to include Chinese, Arabic and others.

MPS Ltd. and The BookMasters Group Inc. form strategic partnership

MPS Limited, a Macmillan company and The BookMasters Group, Inc. (BMI) announced a strategic partnership that will offer customers the benefits of a combined service across digital publishing, fulfillment, and print and electronic distribution.

The partnership allows BMI to offer its customers cost-effective services for eBooks, enhanced eBooks, and apps. MPS customers will gain from BMI’s Converso service, which distributes eBooks hosted on MPS’ ContentStore to Amazon, Apple, Overdrive, Barnes & Noble, Gardners, and 35 other critical eRetail sites. In addition, the partnership will enable the two companies to jointly offer US clients a complete fulfillment and distribution package.

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Stepping into the world of publishing

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

[Anil Gopinath, joined the team in October 2010 as Executive Vice President - Global Engineering - iPublishCentral]

Its been about 4 months since I joined the iPublishCentral team. With no prior experience in publishing the last four months have been a real eye opener for me. It has taken me this long to get a feel of the different aspects related to publishing, the different segments and the different needs and requirements of the ecosystem.

Working with the team at iPublishCentral has so far been a great experience. With their help and  through discussions with our clients and other publishers I am now beginning to feel like I am  a part of this community.

The opportunity to attend the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2010 and the more recent O’Reilly Tools of Change Conference in New York, gave me a good understanding of the transformations that are happening in the world of publishing. At both events, I met with several authors and publishers who were kind enough to share their experience and thoughts about the changes they are seeing in the industry.

The publishing industry is now at a crossroads of sorts, with technology being the major game changer. Publishers now have new capabilities and new markets to explore and are questioning some of the older business models.

For us at iPublishCentral, innovating to find solutions and products to ease this transition for publishers is what is foremost on our minds. In these past few months we have transformed our product road map and have made several process changes within the iPublishCentral product team. We have broken up development into formal release cycles and are streamlining  internal and external communications. We have also strengthened the network operations team to keep up with the growing requirements for eBook delivery.

We hope to continue to innovate and help our publishing partners keep pace with and grow with each and every evolution of technology.

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Books on the cloud

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Over the years, the Internet has grown into a large repository of data and information that can be accessed from anywhere through multiple devices. Today you no longer need to be seated at your personal computer to read your e-mail or book movie tickets. Instead you could be on the beach, at the playing field, at the airport or in another country.

It has been our vision that books, like all digital products should be accessible and available all the time. We have worked hard to build an infrastructure that ensures that we can provide this to our publishing customers, who in turn can ensure that their books reach their readers anywhere and at all times. We watch with confidence as the market takes shape and as this vision of books being on the cloud turns to reality in the months to come.

There are three main reasons why books on the cloud makes sense and I have outlined them below:

Consumer is King

Consumer expectation is to have services available all the time - from Webmail, to Google docs, to salesforce, to Evernote consumer expectation is that they will have their services accessible from anywhere and from any device. Companies that understand this and create this access entry point are guaranteed success. An example for me is a note taking service. I have used several note taking applications; I put notes on my mac, on my blackberry, my iPad too has a few note apps. And then, a few months back I discovered Evernote. This amazing web application, wins over every other note taking software as I can confidently use it knowing that I access all of my notes at anytime from any of my devices, no matter where I am.

Muti-device accessibility
with the speed at which technology is advancing, it is difficult to judge whether our lives are getting simpler or more complicated. Today, we use multiple, multipurpose devices, to stay connected. I have my laptop, my home desktop, my smartphone, my blackberry, my iPad and I work and live my daily life going between all these devices. For convenience sake I EXPECT my applications and software to work interchangeably between all these devices. While I might be an early adopter of technology, a few years down line, this just like e-mail being available everywhere will be a norm for most people.

Follow the Leader(s)

Amazon recently announced that they are launching the web based kindle. With this version, Amazon is now ensuring that their customer can access their eBooks from anywhere and on any device. I use a kindle and I expect to read my books on my iPad, my kindle or on my iPhone. As the market leader, Amazon is establishing a benchmark in the industry by providing this experience; a benchmark that all customers like me will expect to have when using books in the eWorld.

These norms will push publishers to deliver their content on the cloud, needing sophisticated technology to achieve the same. The good news is that there are companies like ours who can provide this infrastructure. This is just the beginning, once books are on the cloud; the opportunities for the publisher are innumerable. Publishers need to realize that this is the future and start implementing their cloud strategy immediately.

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Team Speak: Frankfurt Book Fair 2010

Friday, October 15th, 2010

This year, The Frankfurt Book Fair seemed quieter than the previous year in terms of footfall, but not so in terms of quality of meetings. We saw a higher level of ‘C Level’ visitors prepared to explore their digital strategies and talk about how a technology partner might be able to assist them in this endeavor.

 Our stand which was strategically placed right opposite the ‘Device Hot-Spot’ gave us the opportunity to study attitudes towards the several reading devices that have hit the market place in the past few months. No doubt the hype about the iPad and the onslaught of these new devices have led to the explosive growth in eBook sales and has generated a lot of discussion, with more publishers now paying a lot of attention to the future of content and content delivery. The tablet phenomenon is proving to be a major catalyst towards driving user demand for interactive and media rich content on the move, and has spurred many industry leaders such as Google, Amazon, Apple and Samsung to position themselves to own the digital book space, in much the same manner that Apple has taken over the music industry.

While a few years ago, the predominance of this digital trend was limited to the United States and parts of Europe, we are now seeing an increasing interest in digital content and eBooks from developing countries in Asia, the Middle East and South America.

The eBook era is enabling publishers to take more control over their content and deliver it directly to their end-users. Delivering eBooks to the market does not have to follow the traditional print supply chain where the distributor and retailer have such a strong presence. Publishers can now have their eBooks hosted on a neutral platform and sell or deliver it through their own branded eBookstore directly to their end users and institutions. This allows the publisher to set their own price and redefines their relationships with resellers, and of course the discounts they offer.

While matters regarding DRM protection for content still remains debatable, this year we experienced more and more enquires from publishers and distributors regarding safeguarding of their digital content. The market is clearly a friendlier place for eBooks and we saw several publishers from different countries shopping for an eBook platform that allows them to deliver and sell their content as an aggregate set of titles via publisher branded portals. It was encouraging to note that most of them had researched the eBook platforms available in the marketplace, a clear indication that they are in the process of embracing this new age with enthusiasm. The internet and the cloud phenomena that powers global access of content through multiple devices continues to shape the publishing world and we are all excited about what the future holds.

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