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  • Appification Nation: Too Big Too Fail?

    What is it with our Nicholas Carr fixation? Authors take note  –  mention us in print and you’re guaranteed Vook blog coverage. Today, I want to call your attention to a piece Mr. Carr wrote for the Nieman Journalism Lab on the coming appification of content. Carr’s predicting that newspapers in 2024 will monetize and engage readers increasingly through apps. It’s an area we’ve been thinking about as we find more and more content holders getting interested in eBooks.

    Mr. Carr’s piece offers an apparently safe thesis—newspapers have profited from great apps. But when it comes to content delivery, the details are thorny.

    Carr writes, “What’s an app store but a series of paywalls?” Well, it’s also, crucially, a marketplace you can only tap with the help of developers and one that imposes checkpoints and tech requirements that can be difficult to accomodate. Essentially:

    1. A native app is expensive to build – if you really want to get it right
    2. Content updating in apps can be difficult to maintain through a CMS
    3. Updating and version changes = major headaches

    expensive-iphone-appsCMS solutions for appstore delivery exist — and we love the work from Mag+, Adobe and others — and it does seem many newspapers already have an app. But production difficulties aside, the appstore also represents the centraliziation and primacy of a few big brands. A good example might be apps for local public radio stations  – many NPR and PRI affiliates have an app, but after my cursory survey of a selection, I’d be  surprised if any of them, or even all of them combined, approached the traction of the excellent NPR flagship app.

    Jason Baptiste at OnSwipe would probably say we’re being too moderate in our perspective, but HTML 5 Web experiences also have a ways to go. They remain slow, clunky to load, and it can be hard for them to handle more complicated content.

    So is there a solution? Probably long term a Web-based experience independent of native app confines — like Baptiste’s OnSwipe. In the interim, newspapers and news related content holders should look at monetizing their content across a spectrum of platforms, including eBooks.

    Appification is going to help, but it’s still a hard way to make money (see: the Daily). The Project Triangle states that of the qualities Fast, Cheap and Good you must pick two. I’d tweak it and say the App Project Triangle is Slow, Expensive and Good. If you want Good, you pretty much have to take the other two as well.

    TextVook Trivia Contest on Twitter

    Want to win a $25 gift card from Dr. Vook, Ph.D, star of our new TextVooks series? Make sure you follow us on Twitter @vooktv to answer questions about subjects from his new enhanced apps and ebooks starting tomorrow at 9 am EST with another round of trivia at 12 pm (M-F throughout the month of April). We’ll be giving away two $25 iTunes gift cards a day to 28 lucky winners and using the hashtag #TextVook throughout the contest. Click here for full contest rules and stay tuned to our blog for all of the latest Vook news.

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    Tools Of Change – Part One

    Vook had an insightful and informative time today at Tools Of Change. We met and reconnected with key players in publishing, both digital and traditional — such as Bowker, Oxford University Press and Sterling Publishing. New firms, such as Aquafas and the fresh face on traditional companies such as Macmillan’s MPS, underlined how quickly this market is expanding. We counted upwards of 8 ventures that could make solid contributions in the enhanced publishing space.

    If you haven’t already stopped by, please do, because we have a very special surprise to give you at our table. We have more love to give, even after Valentine’s Day! ;)

    And if you haven’t already heard, we are licensing our MotherVook technology for publishers to use. Hay House already has a head start on you, so visit table 404 for more information on how you can license our technology engine to create your very own enhanced e-books and apps from existing assets.

    Here is a snapshot of today’s scene:

    Busy exhibiting area at Tools Of Change

    Author Margaret Atwood signing books. Vook totally has her back …

    Lots of mixing and mingling

    Stop on by!

    Head of Acquisitions Matthew Cavnar is ready to answer any Vook questions.

    Vook really just wants to say THANKS

    It’s always great to hear a heartfelt “THANKS” from a business or brand that you love. It’s a great feeling when you know they really value your opinion, and your business. The reason is simple: we like to feel like we’re helping build and improve the products they create!

    We want to build that at Vook. We’re putting our heart into it – from conceiving products that we think our fans will love, to feedback on our titles from our followers. And nothing tells the story of Vook like the ratings in the AppStore for our Vooks!

    As our own way of saying “THANKS” to the customers we love, the team at Vook decided to reduce prices for more than 100 of our Vooks in the iTunes App Store. We’ve never done that before. The huge thank you party starts this afternoon and lasts until Monday at midnight. Our premium apps – from Reckless Road to How to Rock Climb – will be available for just 99 cents. And check out our new homepage during the promotion at thanks.vook.com.

    Vook is now the largest digital publisher of enhanced eBooks in the AppStore, and as our press release this morning said, we could not have done it without a great group of fans, followers and devotees. We’ve been working hard to find new and exciting titles for them, and have really succeeded at persuading our partners that combining great video footage with an engaging text makes for a revolutionary reading experience.

    Finally – what’s truly compelling about Vook is the great relationships we have with the authors of our Vooks – each of whom has a loyal following that just cannot get enough of their favorite authors. You need only to follow tweets to @vooktv for evidence. We regularly receive questions such as: “When are you turning such-and-such book into a Vook?”

    This weekend – please take the time to explore the Vook catalog in the AppStore. Learn how to rock climb! And yes, you can actually do Yoga in Bed.

    In other words – take advantage of our way of saying thanks to each of you!

    And of course – please send any feedback you have on your reading experience to mike [] vook.com!

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