Monday, September 24, 2012

Making an ebook? Is a DIY Program or Full-Service App Developer Right for You? From @pdnonline

In the ever-evolving landscape that is self-publishing, photo e-books and iPad apps remain largely a do-it-yourself proposition. While several companies offer e-book and iPad app design and development, they vary wildly in competence and experience. Similarly, though DIY services keep costs low, less technically inclined users might have trouble navigating in and around the “easy” interfaces.

To that end, here are a handful of recommendations—some do-it-yourself, some here-you-do-it—for photographers hoping to publish e-books and iPad apps. Our top picks: Blurb if you’re DIY and proud of it; Wind River Creative if you need a hand; Wix if you’re big on sharp visuals and next-gen tech infrastructure; Apple’s iBooks Author if, like many photographers, you’re an Apple lifer; and Baker Framework if you’re tech savvy and want to save money.

The best reason for would-be self-publishers of photo books to use Blurb’s do-it-yourself tools is the most simple one: Blurb was founded to serve would-be self-publishers of photo books and them alone. And now Blurb has gotten into the e-book space, which has prompted a few tweaks to the company’s traditional print-book products. Though the e-book service only debuted this summer, it has generated user enthusiasm for the same reason Blurb’s printed books have: The product looks good and just about anyone who can successfully turn on a computer should have no problem using it. Indeed, asked to explain Blurb’s appeal, CEO Eileen Gittins responds, simply, that, “Blurb can be easily understood and used by all types of people with varied knowledge of publishing.”

Gittins touts a handful of basic tools, among them easy-to-use templates and a range of customization options. She also stresses the creative control that Blurb users have over the product. Though Blurb offers some basic level of support, it’s not going to hold users’ hands throughout the process; some less experienced users could take issue with this.

Pricing starts anywhere between $4 and $50, depending on the book’s physical dimensions. Print and e-books with higher page counts, not surprisingly, cost more.

Price: Starting at $4

Read on here...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

E-books could become the norm for children as sales soar. From @Telegraph

Parents are buying e-books for their children in growing numbers as experts say a new generation may become more used to reading from an iPad or Kindle screen than from a traditional book. 

Sales of children’s e-books nearly tripled over the first six months of this year compared with the same period in 2011, figures from the Publishers Association (PA) showed yesterday.

Richard Mollet, chief executive of the PA, said that 2.6 million children’s e-books were sold over the first half of this year, compared to 1 million the previous year. 
Publishers and retailers said that advances in technology have meant that digital books for children, including picture books, have taken off in an “explosive” way in recent months. 
Experts said that the huge increase in children’s e-book sales could lead to a generation of people growing up reading more from Kindle screens than from real books. 

Read more here....


For Social Companies, a Battle to Own Photography. From @nytimes

The chant we’ve been hearing from the tech giants in recent years has been the same: “Mobile, mobile, mobile.” Yet there’s a greater evolutionary force behind this. “Photos, photos, photos.”

Just take a look at Facebook’s news feed as Exhibit A. What was once speckled with words and a few, tiny images, is now the complete opposite. Photos are large consuming most of the white space of Facebook’s social feed. (Don’t forget about the billion dollar acquisition of Instagram, the social photo service.)

Exhibit B: Google’s acquisition of Nik Software, a company that makes tools for editing and sharing photos, including the highly popular Snapseed app for iOS, on mobile phones.

There’s no arguing that mobile is the driving force here. Billions of people now walk around with mobile phones in their pockets that are also mobile cameras. Naturally, these photos are going to be shared on social sites. And big social companies, including Google, Facebook and Twitter, all want to house those images.

In the past, it was Yahoo’s Flickr that offered a bustling community for photos on the Web. But Flickr has since been usurped by a number of competitors, but none have completely replaced it.
Now, there’s a diaspora of photo-driven sites, apps and social networks, all vying for the Web’s photos.

Facebook, with its hundreds of millions of users, is clearly trying to become the pre-eminent destination for people’s photos online. But, it is not a site designed for beautiful images, which is what contributed to Flickr’s popularity and created its community. Instead, Facebook is for social images: birthday parties, a hike with friends and the latest vacation. Posting artistic photos on Facebook would be like placing an art collection from the Museum of Modern Art in your local bar.

Facebook’s Instagram, now a teeming photo haven, doesn’t fill the Flickr void either. It’s designed for mobile devices, and more importantly for this challenge, there is no way to post groups of photos. (There are also the Instagram users who berate people for using a digital cameras, rather than smartphones, on the service.) Twitter, which also only allows people to post single photos, doesn’t make sense, either.

Now Google wants to be that place, too. Its latest social tablet applications also highlight large images. In regards to the company’s acquisition on Monday, Vic Gundotra, senior vice president at Google in charge of Google Plus, wrote on Google Plus, “We want to help our users create photos they absolutely love.”

Don’t count Flickr as down-and-out just yet. Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s chief executive, is putting resources behind the almost-abandoned Flickr.

Because all of these companies know the same thing: This isn’t just a battle for the mobile Internet. It’s a battle for photos on the entire Internet.

Original article here....

Instagram: Photography's Antichrist, Savior, Or Something In Between? From @HuffPostArts

Like most people, Emily Reid started using Instagram on a lark. She'd taken a picture of the view from her friends' rooftop, decided it looked pretty cool, and then posted it on the social photo-sharing website so her friends could see. That was her first Instagram photo. Within months, she'd posted hundreds more. And they weren't just pretty views and sunsets and plates of food you're about to eat (all Instagram standards). Instead, Reid had decided to concentrate on complex renderings of buildings and infrastructure in her Washington, D.C. neighborhood.

Using and developing hashtags like #mobilearchitecture, #abstracture and #Wickedflip, Reid has met a whole community of followers and like-minded friends, allowing her to share her work with thousands of people around the world. On Monday, she posted a photo of a D.C. building in front of a distorted blue sky at 8:00 p.m. -- she edits her photos, sometimes for hours apiece, using a variety of iPhone apps -- and by 8:30 p.m. it had collected more than 200 likes and a stream of comments.

"I became very, very quickly addicted," says Reid, who works primarily as a web designer. "It's a fascinating phenomenon, unlike anything. Something like Twitter -- that's a community, but its not such a happy community, where people are all sharing their art and talking about it, like [Instagram]."
Thousands of people like Reid have used Instagram to meet other photographers experimenting with the medium, and even selling their photos on sites like Instaprints. Reid's own "DCEmmy" Instagram account now has almost 5500 followers, and she has exhibited her work in mobile photography shows across the country.

But some visual-art purists are decrying the Instagram phenomenon, which in a scant two and a half years has become one of the most popular social networking sites on the web -- so popular that The Zuckerberg himself recently snatched up the site for a cool ten figures. The site's detractors lament the ease with which people can call themselves "photographers" these days, simply by posting photos online using one of the platform's many filters.

Read on here.....

Monday, September 17, 2012

Use Premium Materials to Elevate Your Presence. From @mohawkpaper and @infotrends

How do you turn common print applications into something more? Materials. Premium and unique materials offer service providers the ability to differentiate their offerings and increase overall value to their customers. Matt Rees of InfoTrends sat down with Joe Schember from Mohawk to discuss how two real companies have been able to elevate their applications in the profitable photo market.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Science of Old Book Smell. From @galleycat

Over at the ReAuthored blog, you can read an informative post debunking some common misconceptions about the old book smell that everybody loves.
The short essay criticized a popular Internet image floating around about the origins the old book smell. In the video embedded above, you can learn more about the famous smell from Abe Books.Check out the ReAuthored post:
Thanks to the great people at the Centre for Sustainable Heritage through The Bartlett School of Graduate Studies at University College London, we now have published proof what really makes up that smell.  Here is the study: Material Degradomics: On the Smell of Old Books So, what REALLY creates the smell of old books?  That answer can be as complex as the books themselves. The researchers concluded that the acidity of the pages was one of the largest factors that contributed to the BREAKDOWN of books, but the smells themselves can come from a list of things.

Just add media. New on your Blurb eBooks.

My followers can get an early look at two major enhancements to Blurb's eBook editor.  These new features are available on any Blurb book.

Internationalization: The ebook editor is now available in all our supported languages, marking the final piece in a fully localized ebook-creation experience.

Enhanced ebooks: Authors now have new ways to enrich their current stories or tell new ones, by adding audio, video and links to their ebooks. Many of our authors have captured audio and video as part of their photographic journeys, and they can now use these assets to provide greater depth to their stories.

To see an enhanced ebook, Laura Brunow Miner has taken her popular book, Eat Retreat and added time-lapse videos and audio interviews to showcase her gastronomical getaway.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

iPhone 5 for me? Nope, not this time.

I'm used to handing my money over to Apple.  I've been an iPhone fan boy for a while now, being a truly "mobile professional" who works remotely in Seattle from Blurb's corporate headquarters in San Francisco.  The iPhone has really changed my life (I was going to say "literally" but Joe Biden has kind of given that word a bad rap of late).  I bought my 4S on the day of release.  So those that know me probably expect I'll be on the early train with the 5.  Nope, not this time.

One thing I found about Apple phones is it as much about the OS as about the new hardware.  The stuff coming in iOS6 is very cool but it will fit nicely on my 4S thank you.  The 4S boasted the new camera, not much improvement it appears on the 5. LTE? Love it but it won't arrive in Seattle until end of the year and AT&Ts version won't work with LTE in Europe, where I travel often. Bigger screen, lighter weight?  Could be nice but I'll have to hold one to know if it will feel good in my hand.

So bottom line is that I won't be up at midnight to pre-order this time. Once the din has died down I'll take a look live but this may be a situation where I wait for version 5.1.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

LTE antenna can suck up data like Michael Phelps at a table full of pizza. iPhone 5: amazing and boring. From @wired

The iPhone 5 is the greatest phone in the world. It has top-notch hardware with a zippy new A6 processor and amazing four-inch display. Its new operating system, iOS 6, is slicker than slugs on ice. And its ultra-slim body, an all-glass and aluminum enclosure, is a triumph of industrial design. There is nothing not to like about the phone. It’s aces. Just aces.
And yet it is also so, so cruelly boring.
Yes, it’s better than the iPhone 4S or the iPhone 4 or just about any other phone you can buy. It’s faster with a bigger screen and an LTE antenna so you can suck up data from your carrier like Michael Phelps at a table full of pizza. But mostly it is the Toyota Prius of phone updates. It is an amazing triumph of technology that gets better and better, year after year, and yet somehow is every bit as exciting as a 25 mph drive through a sensible neighborhood at a reasonable time of day. It’s not going to change your life. It’s not even going to offer a radically different experience.
It’s a weird paradox. The iPhone 5 can simultaneously be the best phone on the market and really, really boring. And that has almost nothing to do with Apple and everything to do with our expectations.
Read on here....

The first museum exhibition to examine the print-on-demand photobook. From @photobookclub

In discussion yesterday with Andreas Schmidt and then today via email from the institution itself, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s new exhibition ‘DIY: Photographers and Books’ has cropped up and looks like a bobby dazzler.

What makes it look good above being an exhibition on photobooks? In short…
‘This is the first museum exhibition to examine the print-on-demand photobook and explore its impact on contemporary photographic practice.’
‘Barbara Tannenbaum, curator of photography for the Cleveland Museum of Art says that “One of the goals for the exhibition is to bring photography down off the walls and place it in visitors’ hands.”’
And if you want a more reasons to visit, head over to the exhibition website here or have a look at these events which are part of the larger exhibition:
A Revolution for the Photobook, Wednesday, October 10, 6:30 p.m.
A lecture by Barbara Tannenbaum to introduce print-on-demand technology and the DIY: Photographers & Books exhibition. Free.
The Art of the Photobook Saturday, October 20, 2:00 p.m.
Larissa Leclair of the Indie Photobook Library, Arlington, VA, Melissa Catanese and Ed Panar of Spaces Corners, Pittsburgh, PA and Barbara Tannenbaum will discuss print-on-demand photobooks. Books will be available for purchase from Spaces Corners and a special display of books will be on view from the Indie Photobook Library. Free.

Original post here.....

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Get PDF Books, Now at Blurb

If you’ve ordered a printed copy of one of your books recently, you’ve probably noticed we now offer a cool little add-on: A PDF version of your book. Now, any book, made with any of our tools, can also be converted to a convenient PDF. For those keeping score at home, Blurb now offers printed books, ebooks for the iPad, and PDFs for, well, just about every device.
Here’s why we think it’s so cool:
1)   Instantly yours: Order the PDF version along with your printed book and you’ll have something to enjoy while your book is printed and shipped to you.
2)   Nearly everywhere: Pretty much every device is configured to handle PDFs: computers, tablets, smart phones, and ereaders (like the Kindle 2).
3)   Saveable, shareable: Once you purchase your PDF, you can show it off on your tablet, share it with a cloud-based storage service (like Dropbox), put it on a flash drive, even make it downloadab­le from your website (great for business white papers).
Don’t want the PDF copy? That’s ok. Just remove it from your cart. You can always order it later. Keep in mind that these aren’t “soft proofs,” meaning they won’t contain crop marks and they’re only in screen resolution.
Want a PDF of a book you’ve already made? Just go to your bookstore page, select a book, and order the PDF. Once you do that you can sell your book as a PDF alongside your print book – just enable this in the sellers options on your Book Details page.

What's Better? They're Just Different. Apple vs Amazon In One Chart. From @rww

Apple and Amazon are both in the business of designing small computers - tablets, ereaders, phones, media players - and selling them to the public. But how they do it is the big difference. And that's best depicted by the astonishing difference in the two companies' profits.

Amazon's Approach: Sell Now, Profit Later

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos explained his approach last week at the company's Kindle press event.
"We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices," Bezos said. "If someone buys one of our devices and puts it in a desk drawer and never uses it, we don't deserve to make any money."
Bezos clarified that he's not interested in selling devices at a steep loss - the razors/razorblades model. He is most interested in a business where Amazon makes a little money here, a little money there, and gives people a really good deal.
Amazon's mantra: "Above all else, align with customers. Win when they win. Win only when they win," Bezos said.
A little different than most companies? Yes. But that's okay: It certainly resonates with customers.

Apple's Approach: Big Profits From Small Devices

Apple generates profit - up to hundreds of dollars per device, especially for the iPhone - every time it sells a gadget. Its media ecosystem is there to support the hardware. In other words, iTunes and the App Store exist in large part to sell more iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple TVs, and iPods.
As Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer described on a 2008 earnings call: "We’re thinking about the App Store in the same way that we think about the iTunes store. While it will generate some revenues, it will be a small profit generator, and just as with the iTunes store making iPods more attractive, we think the App Store will make the iPhone and iPod Touch more attractive to customers. We’ll hopefully see an indirect return by selling more iPhones and iPod Touches."

What's Better? They're Just Different

Obviously, if short-term profit is all that matters, Apple is winning by a mile. Apple has generated more than $73 billion of profit over the span of this chart, while Amazon is around $2 billion. Some of that has to do with the relative size of the companies; Apple is about three times bigger, sales-wise. But Apple's approach is still dramatically more profitable on a relative basis.
That said, there's also merit to Amazon's approach. By pricing its devices lower, it's potentially bringing its technologies to more people in different economic positions. Apple has lowered its pricing premium significantly over the years, but there are still potentially millions of people who could justify buying a $200 Kindle Fire but not a $400 iPad. Apple is now expected to launch a smaller, cheaper iPad, something it once suggested it wouldn't do - an action attributable in part to Amazon's success.
Will Amazon's approach ever lead to substantial profits? If Apple and Google are driving media and app prices lower, that leaves less room for Amazon to profit in the future. But Amazon is a multifaceted machine, ranging from digital media sales to paper-towel delivery. It's possible that getting customers all-in on Amazon's digital and Prime services will eventually lead to greater profits across the board.
Another question: Could competition from Amazon force Apple to lower its prices, potentially at the expense of its profit margins? Perhaps, over the long term, on some models. But one of Apple's biggest strengths is the supply chain it has built of the years, meaning better prices and efficiency than its competitors. If Apple and a rival both design devices with similar features and charge the same amount of money for them, it's entirely possible that Apple could generate a profit off each sale while its competitor takes a loss.
The good news: Today's market is big enough for both companies. Profitability will eventually help sift the tablet winners and losers, just as it has in smartphones. (Apple and Samsung the big winners; RIM, Nokia, Palm, Motorola, and others the losers.) Amazon is big enough to keep doing what it's doing; it might work. And in the meantime, Apple will continue to pile up the cash.
Original article here....

Monday, September 10, 2012

What The Kindle Fire Says About Amazon's Whispered Phone. From @rww

Amazon did not unveil a smartphone Thursday, despite speculation to the contrary. But its new Kindle Fire tablets give us some clues about an Amazon phone, reportedly in the pipeline. We see a $200 (almost) loss leader that makes buying anything from or through Amazon beyond easy.

An All-Amazon-Controlled Experience

The idea that Amazon will put a few of its apps on a generic Android phone and call it a day is misplaced. Amazon will control every aspect of its phone, from the way the home screen looks to the way it ties into Amazon's Kindle bookstore, video-streaming service and music cloud locker.
Speaking Thursday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said, "People don't want gadgets anymore. They want services. They want services that improve over time."
Bezos explainted, "Kindle Fire is a service. What does it mean for a hardware device to be a service? It greets you by name. It comes out of the box with your content preloaded. You can choose from 22 million different items. It makes recommendations for you. [...] A hardware device as a service. That's what people want."
Amazon is all about the experience, front to back -- much like Apple. Expect total Amazon control over any phone it makes.
Read on here....

Sunday, September 9, 2012

In Defense of the Power of Paper. From @nytimes

PAPER still matters. The frequent whirring of printers in offices — despite the Internet, Microsoft Word, social media, scanners, smartphone apps and PDF files — attests to that. We may use less of it than we once did, but reading and writing on paper serves a function that, for many workers, a screen can’t replicate.

Paper, says the productivity expert David Allen, is “in your face.” Its physical presence can be a goad to completing tasks, whereas computer files can easily be hidden and thus forgotten, he said. Some of his clients are returning to paper planners for this very reason, he added.

Mr. Allen, the author of “Getting Things Done,” does much of his writing on a computer, but there are still times when writing with a fountain pen on a notepad “allows me to get my head in the right place,” he said.

Paper printouts also serve an important function, he said. For long texts, a printout can allow a reader to better understand relationships between sections of writing. And paper handouts are still a presence at meetings partly because they are useful for taking notes.

Reading a long document on paper rather than on a computer screen helps people “better understand the geography of the argument contained within,” said Richard H. R. Harper, a principal researcher for Microsoft in Cambridge, England, and co-author with Abigail J. Sellen of “The Myth of the Paperless Office,” published in 2001.

Read more here....    

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Here’s the Rundown on Amazon’s New Suite of Kindle Fires and Kindle E-Readers. From @redgirlsays and @wired

Amazon packed a boatload of new products, services and information into its Santa Monica media event Thursday morning. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduced a trifecta of new Kindle Fire Tablets, new software services to improve the tablet experience, and updated Kindle e-reader models.
On the e-reader front, Amazon introduced a new E-Ink Kindle, The Paperwhite. It’s 9.1mm thick and 7.5 ounces, with a 212 PPI front-lit display so you can read in the dark–just as we had hoped–and a black, buttonless bezel. New software features designed to enhance the reading experience include “Time to Read,” which gives you estimates of how long it’ll take you to finish a book, or the chapter you’re on, and X-Ray, which helps you learn more about the characters in a book. You can also purchase books directly from author biography pages now.
The base model of the Kindle Paperwhite is $119; the 3G version is $179. These are available for order today, and will begin shipping October 1. Amazon also dropped the price of the original Kindle from $79 to $69. It features minor improvements to fonts and texts, and will begin shipping September 14.
The bigger deal, however, is the company’s new tablet. Amazon debuted a next generation Kindle Fire: The Kindle Fire HD. It’s got great guts, with a TI OMAP 4470 Processor and double the RAM of its predecessor so things should run smoothly. The tablet is 8.8mm thick, weighs 20 oz, and has a 254 PPI 8.9-inch display. For WiFi, it uses MIMO technology, which basically means it uses dual antennas to establish a better connection. It’s the first tablet to incorporate MIMO, which Amazon claims makes its WiF 41 percent faster than the iPad’s. The Kindle Fire HD also has stereo speakers with Dolby sound and a front-facing HD camera. On the software side, a feature called X-Ray for video makes it a snap to find information on actors and movies through IMDB. It also includes a feature called Kindle Free Time, which lets you set time limits for when your kids are using the tablet.
Amazon also debuted a 4G LTE version of the Kindle Fire HD. It has 32 GB of storage, and a data plan that includes 250 MB per month, 20 GB of cloud storage, and a $10 Amazon credit for only $50 a year.
The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD with 16GB of storage is $199 and begins shipping September 14. The 8.9-inch model is $299 and ships November 20. The Kindle Fire HD with 4G LTE is $500 and also ships November 20. The original Kindle Fire got a price drop to $159– but why would you grab that when you can get so much more for only an extra $40?
Original post can be found here....

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Cruel Paradox of Self-Publishing: for every self-published work that gains traction, the overwhelming majority of books don't. From @TheAtlantic

Self-publishing technology, like this Espresso Book Machine, has made book manufacturing much more accessible to authors.
Earlier this summer, Penguin Group, long a distinguished major publisher of books, paid $116 million to acquire Author Solutions Inc. A leading provider of self-publishing services, Author Solutions said that since it was formed in 2007, "it has enabled 150,000 authors to publish, market and distribute more than 190,000 books in print and electronic formats." The transaction is a significant breakthrough in what has become a vital factor in the publishing landscape of the digital age. For the first time, an established publisher, the second largest in the world, with about 40 imprints in the United States, is delivering its reputation and management resources to support the vast number of people who want to write a book that, for a variety of reasons, does not make it to a traditional list. By adding Author Solutions, with revenues last year said to be about $100 million, to such pedigreed Penguin names as Viking, Penguin Classics, Putnam, and Dutton, the concept of self-publishing has moved away from what was always known as "vanity publishing." While these authors are still mainly paying to see their works turned into finished print or e-books, they are no longer consigned just to the margins of the marketplace.

In his remarks when the purchase was announced, Penguin's CEO, John Makinson, was effusive: "Self-publishing has moved into the mainstream of our industry over the past three years. It has provided new outlets for professional writers, a huge increase in the range of books available to readers and an exciting source of content for publishers such as Penguin. ... This acquisition will allow Penguin to participate fully in perhaps the fastest-growing area of the publishing economy and gain skills in customer acquisition and data analytics that will be vital to our future."