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  • iBooks 2 and iBooks Author: Another opportunity & headache

    People wax nostalgic about the smell of books, but no one pines for the smell of textbooks. They smelled like glue, they were heavy, and they were—usually—boring. So we were happy to read Apple’s announcement of iBooks 2 and iBooks Author: finally, a kind of book everyone wants to see go digital fast.

    It’s a great announcement for digital publishing, for readers, and for platform and tool creators like us. It also raises some interesting complications that we’ve spent months tackling. Here’s how we’re looking at this announcement at Vook.

    The Good

    eBooks Really Matter

    Finally, eBooks are coming of age. This was not an Apple announcement about a new app creation platform. This is about eBooks—and we understand and obsess over eBooks in all of their various incarnations at Vook.  Apple really is committing to eBooks. That means great enhanced reading experiences are going to start coming more and more from iBooks instead of the iTunes App store. In turn, eBooks are going to get more attention, more user adoption and more momentum.

    The Complicated

    More proprietary files

    iBooks Author outputs an entirely new file format called “.ibooks.” This is a proprietary file format that only plays in iBooks (edit: it’s not quite epub2 and it’s not quite epub3, nor is it quite XHTML5—plus the widgets are iBooks built-in components rather than open standards JS). As one of our colleagues remarked, “Reminds me of another file format (Amazon’s .mobi, anyone?)”. More file formats—especialy more proprietary file formats (or formats intended for only one device)—means more restrictions for content, more headaches for creators, and less freedom for consumers. The title you produce with iBooks Author aren’t for Amazon, on BN, on Google Books. It’s one channel only.

    The Future

    More problems = more opportunity

    When people write a book, they want that book to be available everywhere. Not just on one platform or device. They want as many people to be able to read their book as possible. Which is why this is announcement has us so happy at Vook.  Our platform allows you to build and create files in ePub and Mobi, for Amazon, BN, iBooks, Kobo and others. Vook is not a proprietary format, though we can produce those files. We serve as many of the distributors as possible, bringing your content—and making sure it looks great—to the vast diversity of existing devices and platforms.

    The titans of digital book delivery seem to be arming themselves for war. It’s like something out of a textbook on World War II. But Vook lets publishers, creators and content holders work with all of the major players. We’re like the Switzerland of digital publishing. And like the Swiss, our technology is absolutely world class.

    Vook Is Cooking

    We began onramping beta users on Tuesday—and the turn-out for online training reminds us of the end of “Ghostbusters.” We thought we had a lot of demand, but we were still surprised when a Mr. Staypuff sized colossus suddenly materialized.

    But it did. And we’re kind of awed. Our users are hungry to make books. We’re moving fast to meet the demand. We’re instructing registrants in groups, walking them through the platform, then handing over the keys so they can build their own titles.

    Want more evidence? Our company is growing to help us extend Vook far and wide. We’re hiring!

    Specifically, we’re hiring a Lead Generation Marketing Manager and a Head of Sales. I’m not going to post the entire spec here — too much space — but click on either job title and you’ll see the requirements.

    The early user feedback is confirming that we’re building something people need. Expect to see examples of user created books soon. And if you’re not in the beta, get ready to start creating your own books directly after that.

    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.

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