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TOC TRAVEL REPORT

O’REILLY

Tools of Change for Publishing | 14.–16.2. 2011 • New York, NY

s e g n a h c nology

Tech

HARRI HEIKKILÄ, , resea

fa

t o n o d e l st, peop


TOCCON12 Cover: Red Hat -founder Bob Young, now CEO of Lulu, the self publishing and print-on-demand (POD) network, realized last year that they had defined their customer incorrectly. Young made the ystem modular so niche platforms could use it, and sales went up. Young shared the same message as keynote speaker, actor and reading evangelist for children LeVar Burton (below): “Technology is changing everything in publishing, except the people.” Storytelling remains, reading is fundamental. Text and pictures by Harri Heikkilä, Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Next Media project Red colour in text implies a clickable link in supported devices

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Content Agile

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Data

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Break

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Standard

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Misc.

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Executive summary • Researcher Harri Heikkilä participated for the second time in the “Tools of Chance” publishing conference (TOCCON) 13.–15.2.2012 in New York, arranged for the sixth time by an American technical publisher O´Reilly. • Conference drew over 1500 people and had a catchy motto Change/ Forward/Fast (repeat), but the overall feeling was, that maybe change is not so fast after all – at least as fast as it was 2011. Changes may take more time to be absorbed than most enthusiastic proponents thought. • This year there were many speakers who emphasized the importance of agile development and data-analysis for the success of publishers: quick and iterative product cycles, use of data collected from sales, and readers popped up several times. Other themes were concern for DRM and standards, recent sales data, and whether the page as an old paradigm should be consciously broken. This report has been divided according these four themes in order to make reading easier. • Latest market data suggests that the growth of eBook sales has stabilized, and the average reader changed to resemble more the average printed book reader. DRM issues and worries of eBook platforms diverging were strongly emphasized, • The greatest announcement was “Inkling Habitat”, web based open textbook developing environment. • Strangest place of the conference was Digital Petting Zoo, room with over 40 eReaders on display and free to use. Selection was from the first heavy eReaders from 2000 (Rocket Book) to current models. • History: Focus in 2009 & 2010 were about whether it was wise for a publisher to proceed in digital publishing or wait. 2011 sentiment had changed to an enthusiastic embrace of new technology like iPads, which had made a great impact after the last conference.TOC 2011 was all about social reading, HTML 5 and metadata. 2012 social reading was barely mentioned • TOCCON conference has a reputation of being very well organized, and so it was, but the topics list has grown so wide, that it was difficult to follow, because lots of interesting presentations overlapped each other.

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TOCCON12

AGILE

Agile development and data-analysis as new philosophers stones for publishers In the Gutenbergian world books remained static objects, but eBooks are different, they are dynamic and require an agile approach, where users are listened to with a sensitive ear. Understanding user preferences is crucial, and we need to have more data from users. Lean and agile publishing frameworks were pushed by several speakers. ”I am enthusiastically positive about the future of books. There are more books and more reading then ever in human history. Its is the business model we have to invent” started Kristen McLean from Bookigee her session about agile methods in publishing. She continued that the current publishing model is terrible for the information age. ”We have to be able to talk to the readers before we even publish. Agile product development is the solution.”

The Lean Cycle: put the prototype out, test it and learn. End product from learning, not from knowing.

What is agile? Basically it is about rapid and flexible response to changes following the set plan described in the Agile Manifesto 2001. Key concepts include: • Quick develop cycles • Self-organisizing, multitalent working groups Hierarchical system is opposite to agile, all people are on the same level, people have broad skill: designer who can code etc. • Breaking complex tasks into smaller goals Complex tasks to smaller achievable parts, book can be published as separate chapters or as preview

Ideas

Build

Learn

• Iteration Change of direction according to the market • End product from learning, not knowing

Data

Product

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Measure


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DATA

In publishing environment this would require moving away from publishereditor-authoring–marketing–production-design model to a flattened environment with one business-editorial -team. Agile environment would be simple (avoid complex systems, and timeintensive documentation); it adapts regularly to changing circumstances (presume you don’t know the answer); it has self-organizing teams with flexible skills (get highly talented and interdisciplinary individuals). Agile environment counts on accountability & empowerment (give them what they need and trust them to get the work done), and customer interaction and satisfaction are extremely important get out of the building. It works with close, daily co-operation between business people and creatives (both on the same team), it is sustainable development (able to maintain a constant pace – each person should be able to commit to only what they can do in a day, or a week). Cut back features in order to deliver on time. It gives continuous attention to technical excellence and good design (produce less, but make it better) and completed tasks are the principal measure of progress – focus on real stuff, not on rituals, documentation, or other internal benchmarks that do nothing for your customer. Another speaker, Dominique Raccah, described agility as part of a larger reader or user centric model. If a publishing road map is developed based on users needs, we have to start with user experience (UX) and work back to technology, not the other way around, like Steve Jobs put it. Agile publishing model (APM) would be: Creation + Interaction + Collaboration = Completed Book The goals are more efficient (successful product development faster), better author experience, and more timely/updated books. To put it simply APM is about creating a conversation, even a partnership between the author and the reader. Raccah claims this to be useful especially for expert-based authors. But one could ask how would this work in praxis? Raccah lists some first steps: an agile book would have perhaps a pricing models survey, it would publish content in several stages, and it would find out how users actually use the material. Finding out of customers’ use habits was another repeating theme in the conference. Making up-to-date data easy to use through dynamic graphics provides new resources. Last year Microsoft Press showed a program where they could see the big picture or very detailed info about marketing data within seconds. Now Roger Magoulas, O’Reilly’s Media Research Director

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DATA Keep your analysis close to the data. Screenshot of O´Reillys sales data tool

showed how sales data can be used to visualize weaknesses as well as opportunities. In few clicks Magoulas could find which titles are moving up or down and find tendencies as categories. Michael Tamblyn from Kobo presented data that has been collected live from tablets. He stated the well known fact that fiction is the prominent genre in eBooks. Interesting detail: according to data, non-fiction eBooks (like cook books) are very popular as gift items. People read fiction, but give non-fiction as presents. However, Tamblyn noted that there are devices that are in fact non-fiction devices: Android OS, Linux desktop and Blackberry users are dominantly male, and non-fiction is popular.

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DATA

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Š 2012, the Book Industry Study Group, Inc, R.R. Bowker

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Table 1: On what kind of device people prefer to read eBooks 2010-2011

Fever goes down as specialized eReaders hold up Book industry study group (BISG) discussed results of follow-up surveys by market research institute Bowker. Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading Study is surely one of the the most comprehensive data packets of eReaders and customer behavior available. Researches found it somehow surprising that dedicated e-readers are still preferred by readers. Dollars are spent more on eBooks on dedicated eReading devices than on multipurpose tablets. Fiction remains the unquestionable king in eBooks. Within fiction romance and mystery are twice as popular as the next category of biographies. Cooking books seems to be growing field. EBook power buyer (someone who purchases 4 or more books a month) has begun to resemble more the conventional print book buyer. For example, there are more young women as eBook buyers now, quite a change has happened 7


DATA

Table 2: What keeps you from buying eBooks? Explanation of time indicators: 2:1 – Data collected Sept/Oct 2010 2:2 – Data collected January 2011, 2:3 – Data collected late April/early May 2011, 2:4 – Data collected late August 2011 3:1 – Data collected early December 2011 (pre-Christmas)

towards mainstreaming. Three years ago the power buyer was typically an older male. Buyers are today no more early adopters, but belong to the general public. Follow-up study reveals also interesting trends: the amount of people, who prefer print and find reading difficult on the screen, and see that there is a lack of good devices has diminished significantly during one year. However, reselling and sharing concerns have been rising. Biggest obstacles remain the same: time and money. At this time last year, we saw the long predicted, massive acceleration of e-books. In the final quarter of 2010, and especially in the start of 2011, e-books took off. But now there is a clear flattening out, which can be seen also in the table above. According to a Verso Digital study of consumer book buying habits, the number of consumers resistant to purchasing an e-reading device has increased from 40% in December 2009, to 52% in December 2010. There is still growth but it has flattened out. What are the causes, asks Lev Vlahos. Could it be that this is a new trend? Researchers referred to this as an Angry Birds -effect, books have to compete in a new digital environment where there are lots of other activities available. 8

© 2012, the Book Industry Study Group, Inc, R.R. Bowker

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DATA

Kids market: kids are still reading but the moneys is spent on buying games and gaming with the phone. Apple is the format of choice. This is also a problem with the general audience. People buy multipurpose devices, and they tend not to be used so much for books, as for news, email and games. People used to read more while commuting, but now they are playing games, listening to music etc.

Table 3: Money spent to the dedicated eReaders vs. iPad.

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TOCCON12

BREAK Matt MacInnis, CEO of Inkling: In order to reinvent the book, we had to reinvent the printing press.

Breaking the page, escaping to a virtual canvas How do we make digital books as satisfying as their print predecessors? Several protagonists claim that it is all about breaking the page -paradigm. Matt McInnis, CEO of Inkling, the successful maker of interactive text books, claims that their success is based on not trying to pretend being like print-like book. Peter Mayers plays along suggesting that publishers should paint to a larger digital canvas. INKLING HABITAT WAS THE BIGGEST ANNOUNCEMENT

Inkling was thought to have a business in transforming textbooks for publishers into to an interactive form, but it turns out that Inkling has a scope far beyond being a platform for interactivity. Inkling announced a cloud-based tool called “Habitat� at the TOCCON. 10


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BREAK

In Inkling “Habitat” authors, designers and editors can collaborate within a joint environment. All processing will be done in the cloud. Publishing system is web based and high end: editors can for example push out the changes to all purchased books, in on different platforms, with a single click. Interactive functions include 3-D rendering, guided tours, HD videos, and quizzes. Inkling hasn’t´t been able to produce more than around hundred books in the three years of its existence. Now that publishers can themselves add the interactivity using Inklings platform, it brings the company to an another level, as the publishing and distribution platform has become one of authoring.

Inkling has several times emphasized the importance of getting rid of the page. In Inkling everything is organized in a similar way, text is just one big flow of text divided into chapters. The very point of MacInnis is that just copying content from printed books is foolish, you have to give more than just a replica. Some benefits of Inkling are also its weaknesses: very strict style book ensures publication quality, but it also means that publications can beging to resembe each other, thus diminishing the brand of the publisher. Inkling is also a direct competitor with Apple iBooks Author. Although McInnis – who is former Apple education chief – doesn’t see competition,

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but he is putting down iBooks Author as a low end -platform. He even claims that “Habitat” is the “Final Cut Pro” to iBooks Author’s “iMovie”. McInnis also argued, that the best iBooks-books Apple showed, when announcing iBooks Author, were still in fact laboriously coded by hand. Apple iBooks is definitely not a match for the built-in sophistication of social and interface interactivity of Inkling. Inkling also support for different devices, which is a big plus, Inkling has moved to HTML 5, and books are available for all web browsers which support, in addition to iPad and Android tablets, with device specific layouts. The growth of the tablet market will definitely create a market for quality textbooks, and it is likely that Inkling will be a big name in the future. It already has the biggest educational names behind it, and others like industry leaders Aptara and O´Reilly, announced their support at the conference .

PE TER MAYERS PREFERS A LARGER DIGITAL C ANVAS

Peter Mayers is an author of Best iPad apps -book, and of the forthcoming title Breaking the Page. Preview of the book is available for free at O´Reillys, and it shows some interesting innovative ideas for the move away from the Gutenbergian page. Mayers tells that he was very enthusiastic of for the possibilities of new digital publishing when Kindle and iPhone came to the market, but was disappointed at what was actually delivered. ”They were worse than the print books I had learned to love”. Books that were just ”good enough”, did not satisfy Mayers, who found himself disappointed the second time when iPad-titles appeared in market: books had no coherent UX, but a mixture of prose and videos, both ignoring each other. Mayers took as a goal to improve the reading experience by ”painting a richer canvas” on which authors could compose. Mayers visioned the birds-eye view of a book (browsing tool to the most important turning points of book narrative) and character notes (brief embedded character based summaries). In the current project Mayers is focusing on several questions which can be considered crucial in new digital publishing: 12


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BREAK

• For books that provide no clear ”reading path” is it important to help users track what they’ve viewed and how much remains to explore? • How can digital books remedy the shortcomings of print? • What is the purpose of the page? • Given an ”infinite canvas” what kind of content is best suited to occupy this space? • How do you take things like gestures and motion; and turn them into editorial elements? • What is the role of the editor in a digital book? • Is a sense of completion an inherent part of the book reading experience?

Mayers tries to answer these guestions in his new book, and has found some good examples of publishing paradigms where a “larger canvas” is visible. Mayers concludes that when ”the dust settles, the book as we know it, might be different”. We may have smarter books then, but the experience of reading remains fundamentally the same. History of Jazz iPad book has as a jazzy, infinite horizontal, drawn time line London unfurled Exploring London by the riverbank. Witty horizontal drawn layout. Aweditorium Finding music via serendipity. This application takes all of the disparate content surrounding a music artist, and ties it all together into an elegant social experience on the tablet. Auditorium shows other users browsing the same content Logos Bible Example of a special interest publisher which has created its own versatile reading software providing great UI and UX Liquid text Maybe the most comprehensive, and certainly the most intuitive annotation concept ever.

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STANDARD

Worries about DRM and standards Several speakers expressed frustration about the never ending incoherence of eReading platforms. It is a fact that diversity is the status quo, and it is likely that the current move away from standards is not the way which leads to success. ePUB 3, ePUB 2.1, fixed lay out ePUB, iBooks, azw, azw for Kindle Fire, Nook... Liz Castro, author of several ePUB manuals called for ”one file that rules them all”. The aim should be that one single ePub file could be used in all devices and on all platforms. However it seems to be, that platforms are drifting apart instead of integrating. For example the introduction of Kindle Fire broke the integration of Amazon platform format (.azw) and now there are two Kindles which decode eBooks in different ways. And there is no great coherence in sight: Nook, Apple and Microsoft are not very open when telling plans for the future or even current specifications of used technology. One future strategy could be the use of media queries, which call automatically different platform spesific solutions, but they require lots of work, while it retains one file. The other strategy is just make informed decisions to exclude some platform. But the current situation is far from ideal as Nook, Amazon and Apple make their own decisions about what standard features to support and how to implement them. For example, iBookssofware justifies whole text regardless of ePUB CSS-command and doesn´t include fonts, unless you tweak the code. Videos work currently on iBooks but not on Nook or Amazon devices. Page-break-after command is not supported on Kindle or on iBooks, widows and orphans -feature is only supported on NOOK, JavaScript works best on iBooks etc. It remains a fact that the same file produces quite different lay-outs in different devices. Joe Wikert, the general manager of O´Reilly media and the host of TOCCIN 2012, brought up the same issue, questioning how publishing industry is incapable of implementing standards while other industries can do it. Standards are a prerequiste of mainstreaming any innovation, says techno-historian Tim Wu, and standards or implementations of standards are missing both in DRM and in ePUB, and even in tablet 14

“Most eBook technical standards have been driven by Amazon, Apple, B&N, Google – the publishers who could have played a role haven’t played it. – PRAVEEN MADAN, BOOKSELLER


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STANDARD 5

Table 4: American attitudes towards sharing movie files

publishing in general. Wikert wants to get rid of the whole DRM. Others are afraid that it leads to piracy and dilution of business models Joe Karaganis from Columbia University has studied piracy, and claims that the respect for copyright is still a norm among the general public. People may share the content with family and friends, but it is not generally accepted to go further, to deal for example with the sites dedicated to piracy. Large scale digital copying (< 1000 files) is limited to 2–3% of the population. However, Karaganis sees serious problems in countries with low incomes and high prices. If this situation is combined with cheap technology, mass piracy can occur. He sees the possibility of emergence of massive “shadow libraries”, and exponential grow of copying, when digital readers get below a certain price point, especially in developing countries and within the educational sector. In Europe the problems are in Poland and Slovakia. And in the near future in underdeveloped countries, because technology is going to get more affordable. If piracy occurs, there is not much to be done. Information campaigns do not have any measurable effect. Police control is non existent, raids are common, but very few cases go to court. ”Lawyers are more expensive than cops”. The point is that lawsuits are not scalable, so something automated is needed. SOPA and ACTA were intentions to make law enforcement automated but they collided with powerful citizen mobilization brought up by privacy concerns. Read more: Columbia university, research on copyright infringement 15


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MISC

Smaller potatoes

This section covers interesting parts of the conference which did not fit to the main themes. Tim Carmody: It is more important what readers expect than what readers want. Carmody writes about technology & media for Wired. Author of Book futurist manifesto tries to find a new paradigm between the old book culture that wishes to hold to the old ways and technofuturists who aim to wipe everything old away. He pointed out that similar paradigm shifts have happened before in history, but the new digital modernism binds all together, and creates gigants, like Amazon. Most important expectations are not how a page looks, it is about quantity. People need a great amount of content to choose from, and in an understandable environment. ”We actually like constrains, they turn out to be freedom”.

Digital Petting Zoo: Old eReading devices at display. In one room there were about twenty eReading devices free to touch. The classics like RocketBook and Softbook (pictured) did not only bear a hefty price tag, they were really heavy to hold too!

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Päivä 2 • 14.2.2011

More: 10 reading revolutions before eBooks


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MISC

Linda Holliday: If you are not paying, you are the product. How will books do in future, asked Linda Holliday, an angel investor in the media sector, and veteran of internet and marketing development. The furure is a paid quality content. ”ad-driven content stinks” because revenue streams are not able to sustain quality content. Holliday belives in the economic value of well made things, and iPad is the game changer here. “Content my want to be free, but people also may want have quality”, concluded Holliday.

the little C, the free, entertaining, endlessly shareable and iterated content. She is optimistic for payed content even if there are dark clouds, or more like hell, as ”all information wants to be free, and we read only FaceBook now, and magazine sales are down again, Americans spend nearly 5 hours on TV, and 18 years olds spend 10 hours on internet”.

Holiday points out that advertising alone can´t finance a healthy and free media; internet has been nearly fatal to the indepoendent and free journalism. In this way the idea of Holliday sees a rise of the big C freedom in the internet has turned to (content), re-emergence of the profesbe almost the opposite. sional curated content in favor of

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TOCCON12 Barbara Genco: Libraries are proven marketing engines for content Genco from Library Journal presented a survey of the library users: power-users visit library once a week. 61 % are female, the average age is 48 years. Survey established a clear link between borrowing and buying: For every two books borrowed, one was bought. The panel discussed publisher relations, DRM and library options as nurturing a community that connects content to readers, and readers to each other. More: The libray alternative by Peter Brantley. Tim Coates: Utilisation of backlists brings credibility to eReading market The founder of the new eReading platform, Bilbary, stressed that by publishing old titles as eBooks publishers create a win-win-win -situation for authors, publishers and readers ”. Readers want more access to the extensive and famous backlists from the major publishing houses. “To make eReading a credible market there needs to be 10 times more backlist titles than are currently available”, Coates argued in the panel discussion

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The whole thing is a hot mess, that is consuming our time, our resources and a our money. We are in the midst of the eBook wars” – BOBBI NEWMAN, LIBRARIAN BY DAY -BLOG


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Clay Johnsson: Search engine optimation (SEO) is bad for brains While SEO can be a great tool for marketing a website, basing editoral and headline decisions only on what do you believe readers are searching for, can lead to serious social consequences. Johnsson equated SEO-based editorial decisions with the salt-sugar-fat bombs of the fast food industry. He gives an example of an original AP-news hedaline “Economic worries pose new snags for Obama” which turned to “AP: Obama has a big problem with white woman” on a FOX-news site, and surely got more clicks. Johnsson suggest a healthy information diet as a solution. Instructions are available in the O´Reilly title The Information Diet.

Petteri Paananen talking to a potential customer. PrePress Studio had a desk for eDocker, a HTML5 publishing tool that provides a path from Indesign to iPad, Desktop and Android. 19


Conference report