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  • Guest Blogger Laurie McLean: Where to Learn All About eBooks

    We’re honored to announce that Vook CEO Brad Inman has been invited to speak at the West Coast’s first digital book symposium: All About eBooks. This unique symposium will bring together a dynamic group of innovators from the digital publishing world. Get all the details from this guest post by event organizer, literary agent Laurie McLean:

    The San Francisco Bay Area…It’s the second largest publishing center in America and the number one technology innovator in the world. It’s a magnet for change and a leader in new ways of thinking.  Why is this important? Because technology is evolving the publishing industry at the fastest pace since Gutenberg invented the printing press. And New York heads are spinning.

    Considering the powerful emergence of eBooks and enhanced books, the agency pricing model, efficiencies of digital publishing and the opportunities of localized print on demand, the publishing world is simultaneously horrified and inspired to greatness. Everyone wants to know what to do.

    How does this affect you as a writer, editor, publisher, content creator, agent, librarian or bookseller? I know a place where you can find out.

    Come to the first digital publishing symposium of its kind on the West Coast: All About eBooks. Industry leaders Brad Inman of Vook, Mark Coker of Smashwords, Rob MacDonald of Scribd, Mark Wolf of GigaOM, Philippa Burgess of Studio Mythopoeia/Creative Convergence, David Marshall of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Jay Hartman of Untreed Reads, online marketing expert Stephanie Chandler and many others are going to join me at this one-day intensive mind-meld that will cover all aspects of the eBook phenomenon.

    You’ll learn how to create and distribute your own eBooks for free and how to market them online. You’ll hear about the future of enhanced eBooks and transmedia.  Authors who’ve successfully sold eBooks will share their tales.  And industry professionals will give their perspectives. In one day you’ll dive deep into the pool of everything eBooks.

    Here are the facts:
    All About eBooks Symposium
    Friday November 12th from 9 am to 6 pm
    At the San Francisco Hilton-Financial: 750 Kearney at Washington
    Cost: $199 (including all sessions, lunch and a cocktail reception)
    Limited to 75 seats for an immersive learning experience

    To learn more,  go to allaboutebooks.us. To register go to: sfwritingforchange.org and then click on ‘Register for All About eBooks’. Hope to see you there.

    Laurie McLean is a literary agent with Larsen Pomada Literary Agents in San Francisco and Dean of the new San Francisco Writers University. She has been immersing herself in digital publishing news, trends and perspectives since 2024.

    Innovation Starts with the Author

    In an article for the Huffington Post today, Sammy Perlmutter wrote about the box set of Lynd Ward’s six novels in wood-cut that’s being published by the Library of America.

    Perlmutter wonders if the box set is “a desperate effort, perhaps, to reassert the durability of the printed page in the era of the eBook.” But he also suggests that this “brick” contains lessons for authors looking to innovate.

    Ward’s books are filled with images–they do not contain words. In this genre, a reader is interpreting images and piecing together a narrative. As Perlmutter says, the reader is “interacting” with the book. Authors looking to succeed in the future will need to follow this model of interactivity.

    We couldn’t agree more. That’s why we’re committed to making Vook a platform that enables authors to think outside the box.

    You can view Vooks in “read”, “watch” or “mixed view.” You can make it a social experience using share features,  a research experience by clicking hyperlinked text, and you can consume the content in any order you want. While reading a Vook, readers engage with the content–and its author.

    In his article, Perlmutter asks, “Are eBooks changing the way we read stories, or are they merely changing the way we receive them?”

    At Vook, we feel we’re doing the former. Let us know if you agree.

    The Power Shift in Publishing

    When a panel on the future publishing includes a robust discussion of HTML5 and a debate on the tenacity of InDesign, you get the hint that things are changing.

    When one of the panelists says that “it’s not the publisher’s job to determine what should be published and what shouldn’t,” the writing is on the wall: there are new power players in this industry, and maybe even a whole new set of rules.

    The panel in question took place at the GigaOm office in San Francisco on August 25th. “Author to Audience: Disintermediation in the Publishing Industry,” was moderated by VP of research at GigaOm Pro Michael Wolf. It gathered industry innovators and experts to assess whether the rise of the e-book spells doom for the traditional publisher.

    Panelists from Adobe, Scribd, Smashwords and of course, our own Brad Inman from Vook never suggested that traditional publishers would be out of the picture, but they did emphasize that now, the real power is the hand of the reader.

    Readers will choose what they read, or as Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords said, “The power of curation is going to shift from the publishers to the crowd- the readers.’

    They will also choose how they read. Brad emphasized, “what we like is that people can choose. You can go to ibooks and get Seth Godin with or without video.”

    Amid the sea of self-publishing opportunities and endless e-readers, audiences will interact directly with authors and determine what content rises to the top. John Warren, Marketing Director, Publications at RAND Corporation, speculated that a time will come when readers can pay writers to change the course of their narrative, or have characters named after them.

    Regardless of whether it gets that far, reader likes and dislikes may come to determine the fate of book authors, just as they do now with content on Web. In the future of publishing, the people have the power.

    Get Seth Godin’s “Unleashing the SUPERIdeavirus” with video in the iBooks store: here.

    Making Friends with E-Books

    This weekend, the New York Times suggested that “E-Books Make Readers Less Isolated.” The article asserts that someone carrying a new e-reading device or tablet is inviting conversation and interaction.

    Strangers constantly ask about it,” Michael Hughes, a communications associate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, said of his iPad, which he uses to read a mix of novels and nonfiction. “It’s almost like having a new baby.” An iPad owner for four months, Mr. Hughes said people were much more likely to approach him now than when he toted a book. “People approach me and ask to see it, to touch it, how much I like it,” he said. “That rarely happens with dead-tree books.”

    But the social aspect of e-books isn’t limited to curiosity about devices. People who are reading on tablets are often connecting to internet and sharing content or conversations while reading. Of course, the ability to connect has been a core value at Vook from the beginning.

    One of our earliest Vooks, Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crush It, drew in readers with relevant hyperlinks and access to Gary’s Twitter stream.  Less than a year later, you can email your friends videos and highlighted passages from within a Vook you’re reading on your iPhone or iPad. The ability to interact with authors and co-readers always seemed like an obvious next step in innovative publishing, but it turns out that it’s also essential to the sharing of ideas, on and offline.

    The benefits of connectivity don’t end inside the binding of an e-book.  Dialogue online creates a welcoming environment for dialogue in person. The Times says:

    Suddenly, the lone, unapproachable reader at the corner table seems less alone. Given that some e-readers can display books while connecting online, there’s a chance the erstwhile bookworm is already plugged into a conversation somewhere, said Paul Levinson, professor of communication and media studies at Fordham University.

    Are e-Books bringing us closer together? Tell us what you think in the comments below, or tweet us @vooktv.

    Bridging the Gap: Authors and Apps

    In Super Sad True Love Story, Gary Shteyngart envisions a not-so-distant dystopic future in which books are artifacts, “Assertiveness” is a college major and immortality is for sale. The book’s protagonist, Lenny, still reads, writes in a journal and thus is essentially a dinosaur. But when the financial crisis hits New York, it’s up to old-fashioned Lenny to save the world with language–and love for a young woman named Eunice.

    The book has been compared to George Orwell’s 1984 for its sharp cultural criticism. And while Shteyngart’s satirical prose comes down hard on the damage computers have done to humanity, the author still has his own iPhone app. Download it and you’ll get excerpts from his writing, bonus content, integration of Facebook and Twitter, video clips and breaking news about the author.

    In context it seems ironic, but it might simply be a sign of the times. Ultimately, apps don’t signify the death of reading–rather, tablets and e-readers are encouraging more people to buy books.

    And often, apps enable readers to engage more fully with the content they’re consuming. Novelist John Reed created a companion iPhone app that lets readers contribute and converse about his new book, Tales of Woe. Tales of Woe compiles true stories of tragedy and misery, and with the iPhone app, readers can contribute their own unhappy stories.

    More and more, apps are a tool that accompany books and represent authors in the mobile sphere. For examples, Karen Armstrong’s decision to create a Vook, A Compassionate Life in 12 Steps, caught the attention of Knopf. Soon, the book version of Armstrong’s Vook will be released. It’s proof that when the publishing industry embraces technology, an infinite stream of possibilities can unfold.

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