TOC – Publisher CTO Panel, the future of ebook technology, TeleRead

Summary of Tools of Change session, reprinted in full from by Paul Biba

Bill Godfrey (Elsevier), Rich Rothstein (HarperCollins Publishers), Andrew Savikas (O’Reilly Media, Inc.)Moderated by: Abe Murray (Google, Inc. )

Savikas: first foray in 1987. Stared with cd books and online books in 2001, which was first substantial digital presence. Wish is that Amazon would adopt epub as their standard. Digital is now about a decade for O’Reilly, and one of the biggest changes is that there are many more markets for digital products. Can’t imaging what it will be like in 10 years. Book will not go away — neither the package nor the long form narrative type of content. There will be a whole new category of new media that probably can’t be called books any more. Over the last 100 years more and more layers built up between publishers and consumers and web is bringing us back to a more direct relationship. In his experience the interest in enhanced ebooks seems to come from the publishers more than it does from the reader. Now that books can know that they are being read this can lead to enhanced opportunities. Databases are prime examples for turning into enhanced books. Not convinced that advertising will be as much of the future of newspapers and magazines it has been in the passed. Newspapers have lost the monopoly of being a source of local information. There is what value and need for what newspapers provide, but the package is obsolete. Publishers should be taking a stronger role in advocating with the retailers and device makers. Big piece of the epub 3 revision is to support dynamic delivery to different devices.

Godfrey: started publishing PDF journals in 1995 and did first ebook in 2000. Did this because it would be a channel to attract new authors. If. had one wish it would be not to have to worry about how his content is rendered on multiple devices. Need some form of industry standards. Spend a lot of times building tools and curating and figuring out how to get stuff to display properly. Wish people wouldn’t steal their content but don’t know how to deal with the DRM issue. The cloud will help with this. Would also like to wish away their legacy systems — especially the fulfillment system which was built around print. Customer’s technical acumen is very high and instead of catering to them it turns out the customers are driving the development. Content is getting smarter, coding, tagging, curating, taxonomy are getting better and better. Authors will become more directly involved in how their content is presented to the users. In professional marketplace this is happening more and more. For large scale publishers more and more customers will be behind their firewalls. Publishers most likely to win in “e” will those who can deal with the entire end to end process. Customers will demand higher and higher experiences. A lot more non-linear reading is happening in their area of publishing. “History of Jazz” on the iPad is one of the best multi-media ebooks he’s ever seen. Moving to situations where the ebook is only part of the offering and the entire package is much larger. Challenges of newspapers and magazines are different than ebooks, today. Advertising is the big difference currently. See advertising in ebooks down the road. We have not yet tried to influence the retailers and device makers in terms of standards. Probably should do so and expects that in 2 to 4 years the problems with different formats will go away.

Murrray: Google is a believer in the epub standard.

Rothstein: Started Perfect Bound imprint in 2001 because of the worldwide reach of digital technology. Wish would be an XML work flow that would be simple and could work all the way through the whole process and cover mulit-channel distribution. Unified standard would be wonderful, but even now the standard is getting fractured, despite epub 3. Kindle has led to a lot of the ebook explosion. In next decade content will continue to get richer and more interactive. Will go beyond the ebook to a product continuum which will be a set of complementary products. Are now engaging authors more directly about richer content. Big challenge is how to introduce multimedia content without disrupting the immersive reading concept. Enhanced ebooks are sort of like DVD extras today and are just starting to move beyond that. Big problem is figuring out where the added content actually adds more value. Newspapers and magazines have time constraints that ebooks don’t have. Ebooks have a long term value and long development cycles. Likes Google approach to multi-platform abilities.