Five Trends in E-Books

Tablet PC and booksWRITERS. The ongoing evolution of e-books may change how you think about the type of content you suggest when submitting a book proposal to publisher. For example, consider these five e-book trends that Philip Ruppel, the president of McGraw-Hill Professional, listed in a recent post on Mashable.com.

Enhanced E-books

“The e-book of the not-too-distant future will be much more than text,” writes Ruppel. “Interactivity has arrived, and will change the nature of the e-book.” For example, he says an e-book could contain a video showing how to fix a leaky faucet or pronounce foreign-language words as you read them. A novel could provide a platform in which the author can have a live exchange with reading groups.  Thus, in your book proposal, you might want to suggest creative ways to make the content more interactive.

An End to the Device War

Ruppel believes that consumer confusion will lead to quick consolidation around a few winners in the market for e-readers. He says consumers will care less about which device they use and more about the experience provided by the software, the portability of titles, and accessibility to a full catalog of titles.

E-books Costing More than $9.99

Although the $9.99 price for established bestsellers might have sparked initial consumer interest in e-books, expect future e-books with unique interactive features to cost more.

An Upsell for Value-added Extra Features

With enhanced e-books, publishers can interact with their customers in new ways. For example, clicking a help button will point readers to the publisher’s site where they can pay extra to download a tutorial about a specific point in the book they don’t fully understand.

An Expanded Role for Publishers

Producing a conventional technical or reference book requires a team of editors, copy editors, proofreaders, and designers. Producing digitally enhanced e-books will require even greater technical expertise.

In addition, Ruppel believes that with the skyrocketing amount of content being posted on the web, customers will seek out and pay expert content providers that can aggregate and contextualize information. As he puts it: “Commodity content is everywhere (and largely free), so high-quality, vetted, edited content—which takes a staff of experts—will be worth a premium.”

This last prediction, of course, should boost the morale of dedicated, professional freelance writers who have been dismayed by the flood of poorly researched, sloppily written content being churned out by low-paying content mills.  

Link:  5 E-Book Trends That Will Change the Future of Publishing

Four iPhone Photographers to Exhibit Work at Austin Gallery

PHOTOGRAPHERS. To celebrate the wide range of photography styles that can be created with different types of iPhone apps, the Studio2Gallery in Austin, Texas will exhibit the work of four i-Phone-ographers: Leon Alesi, Catherine McMillan, Carol Schiraldi, and Tina Weitz.  Entitled “Appa-ritions,” the exhibit will open Feb. 12 and run through March 5.

iPhone photo by CarolSchiraldi

The idea for the exhibit came about after four well-seasoned photographers started exploring the boundaries of iPhone photography and what types of art could be created using the iPhone camera and some of its apps.

Carol Schiraldi, the artist whose work is shown here, says, “My iPhone has put the fun of photography back into my hands.  It’s small, it’s sleek, it’s sexy.  It’s easy to operate and easy to get away with.  I love the joy of discovering new apps like Camera Bag, Plastic Bullet and Hipstamatic.  I love Shake It Polaroid and the fake Tilt-Shift app.”

She likes that the iPhone allows artistic vision to go from concept to finished product in a second or two: “No Photoshop, no darkroom, no chemicals, no expense of films and such, only that vision come to life…Never before has a camera allowed me to be so productive while freeing me from the shackles of being a technician.”

Tina Wirtz, who owns the Studio2Gallery says, “I began to use my iPhone camera to fill in for those moments I did not have my high tech equipment on hand.  As I continued to use the iPhone, a new love developed.  I discovered the apps. I had lamented the departing of Polaroid Time Zero film almost four years ago, but found the new joy of Shake It, a beautiful tribute to the contrast and color of Polaroid.  You even get the nostalgic click and whir.”

To read the artists’ statements of each four photographers and see more of their work, visit the Upcoming Events section of the Studio2Gallery website.

Conferences Examine Future of Graphic Communications and Cross-Media Publishing

DESIGNERS. In the 2008 book “Get a Design Job,” RitaSue Siegel suggests that you “Think about developing your skills in areas of practice that didn’t exist before, as they tend to attract the highest salaries until everyone catches up.”

One way to better understand future design opportunities is to go to the same conferences that potential employers attend. For example, two upcoming conferences in the fields of graphic communications and on-demand printing will examine what types of skills and workflows will be required to more easily and efficiently move content between print, online, and interactive projects.

While both conferences include some design-oriented sessions, that’s not the only way you can give your career a boost. The more you learn about your customers’ business goals and technical challenges, the more prepared you will be to position yourself as the type of problem-solver they need to hire.   

Graphics of the Americas (GOA)
Feb. 24-26, 2011
Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL
www.goa2011.com

Companies that once specialized exclusively in printing now must offer a wider range of graphic-communications services that can help their customers deliver marketing messages across a broad mix of print and digital formats. To serve this new graphics-communication industry, the GOA conference features educational sessions that appeal to printing company executives, designers, and creative professionals.

For example, during the cre8 conference held in conjunction with the GOA conference, you can attend sessions that will help you update or expand your skills. You can learn how to:  

  • create interactive Flash and PDF documents with Adobe InDesign;
  • simplify the transition of print content to the web;
  • preflight all components of a mixed-media project to ensure that corporate branding is maintained in print, on the web, and in mobile messaging
  • use XML publishing with InDesign to create documents to be shared for print layouts, online, mobile devices, and e-readers
  • ensure your user-interface elements are attractive and easy to use.

The keynote address “Inspiring Digital Innovation” will be presented by John S. Bracken, director of digital media and director of the Knight News Challenge at the Knight Foundation. Bracken will share his views on the future of media and its role in society. Other sessions will discuss “The Digital Landscape for 2011 and Beyond” and “New Media Revenue Streams.”

On the trade-show floor, you can see various digital-printing technologies in action. You might even run into some forward-thinking graphics-business owners who can tell you more about the type of design skills they need most.

 

Publishing Xchange Conference
March 22-24
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC
www.publishingxchange.com

The great “e-blending” of digital content delivery through social media, ebooks, digital publications, media tablets, and new forms of printing is opening many exciting possibilities for traditional publishers, as well as corporate marketing groups that have begun acting like publishers. But this “cross-media” revolution is also creating noise and confusion.

Co-located with the Info 360 Conference and On-Demand Expo, the new Publishing Xchange Conference will strive to help publishers, marketing-communications content providers, ad agencies, commercial and in-plant printers, and graphic designers build a stronger roadmap to success. Seminar tracks include topics such as the state and future of publishing, cross-media marketing, and e-media technologies.   

One keynoter will be Rob Covey, senior vice president of content and design for the National Geographic Digital Media Group.  He will talk about how National Geographic has evolved to market exciting and engaging content across all media channels and share some of the challenges and opportunities associated with today’s new era of publishing.

In another keynote session, Charlie Corr of Mimeo will talk about The New Era of Printing and Publishing on Demand and some of the threats and opportunities that will impact everyone from publishers to printers to end users.   

Other workshops will talk about digital typography, how designing e-books and digital publications differs from designing for print, and digital advertising challenges such as wrangling pixels from print to mobile to billboards.

Expect to See More Artfully Designed Vehicle Wraps

Epson wrap on Bugatti Veyron autoDESIGNERS. If you were asked to design graphics to wrap one of the most expensive sports cars in the world would you put logos for Epson and SkinzWraps on the hood? Didn’t think so.

But that’s not the point. What’s interesting about this project is that it demonstrates that vehicle wraps aren’t just for posting advertising graphics on buses, trucks, and delivery vans anymore.  In the not-too-distant future, owners of luxury cars might hire designers to produce more artistic wraps to personalize their own prized vehicles.

At least that’s what the makers of printers and wrapping materials are suggesting. At the SEMA 2010 expo for sellers of automotive specialty performance products, Epson America, Avery, and Skinzwrap joined forces to design, print, and install this wrap on a Bugatti Veyron worth an estimated $1.7 million.

“Designing and applying a wrap to an automotive masterpiece like the Bugatti Veyron requires the ultimate degree of skill and concentration, the right material, and the best printing technology imaginable,” commented Peter Salaverry, CEO, Skinzwrap. This project was printed on Avery’s MPI Supercast 1005 media and output on an Epson Stylus Pro GS6000 printer. It took seven days to complete the design, print the wrap, and apply it to the car.

Most importantly, at the end of the show the car was transformed back to its original design.

Of course this isn’t the first time a high-end luxury car has been wrapped in custom graphics. In July, the seventeenth BMW Art Car, designed by artist Jeff Koons, took part in the 24 Hours of LeMans race. As part of his creative process, the Koons collected images of race cars, related graphics, vibrant colors, speed and explosions. The digitally printed graphics were designed to evoke power, motion, and bursting energy and give the car a dynamic appearance even when it’s standing still.

Jeff Koons designed the graphics for this 2010 BMW-GT2 Art Car ©BMW
Image of Koons BMW Art Car
The rear view of the 2010 BMW GT2 Art Car suggests a burst of speed. ©BMW

The BMW Art Car project started in 1975 when French racecar driver Hervé Poulain commissioned American artist and friend Alexander Calder to paint the first BMW Art Car.  Other BMW Art Cars have been designed by artists such as David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol and exhibited in the museums such as the Louvre, the Guggenheim Museums, the Shanghai Art Museum.

Another indication that custom-decorated vehicles might be gaining traction was Original Wraps’ launch of a new program that allows auto manufacturers, car dealers, and automotive retailers to offer an on-demand vehicle customization program.  Ford Motor Company offers the service through fordcustomgraphics.com. MINI USA offers the program through MINI Motoring Graphics.

So, yes! We’ve seen plenty of commercial vehicles customized with imaginative branding and advertising graphics. Now, let’s see what happens when more designers get involved in customizing personal-use vehicles.

Editorial Excellence Can Help Marketers Escape Content Chaos

Content Rules Book CoverWRITERS. A new book entitled “Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business” could ultimately open up some fresh opportunities for freelance writers and other creative professionals.

The book was written by two experts in content marketing:  Ann Handley, chief content officer of marketingprofs.com and C.C. Handley, founder of digitaldads.com.

The basic premise of “Content Rules” is that publishing useful content is a good way for companies to build relationships with their customers.  As the book’s promo copy explains, “Today, you have an unprecedented opportunity to create a treasury of free, easy-to-use, almost infinitely customizable content that tells the story of your product and your business, and positions you as an expert people will want to do business with.”

However, because so many companies are jumping on the content-publishing bandwagon, content is rapidly becoming a commodity.

As consumers, we can all see some of the “content chaos” arising from the wider adoption of content marketing. Sure, some of this content can be very helpful. But so much of it seems semi-coherent, superficial, and self-serving. Few companies seem to take the time to consider what type of content their customers would find most enlightening.

In a webinar introducing their book, Handley and Chapman describe the phenomenon this way: “Content marketing is like sex in high school: Everyone claims they are doing it, but few are doing it well.”

They believe content marketing is worth the commitment, noting that “Killer content can earn attention, create trust, establish credibility and authority, and convert visitors and browsers into buyers.”

The book reinforces a fact that many stressed-out, overworked marketing pros have just begun to fully recognize:  Producing a steady stream of consistently good content can be more difficult and time-consuming than it looks.

According to a recent survey cited by Handley and Chapman in Content Rules, the biggest content marketing challenges are:

  • Producing engaging content (36%)
  • Producing enough content (21%)
  • Budget to produce content (20%)
  • Lack of C-level buy-in (11%)
  • Producing a variety of content (9%)

Thus, experienced writers and other creative professionals can offer to alleviate some of the burden. But this tactic will only work if you can suggest how you can help advance the most commonly identified organizational goals for content marketing:

  • Brand awareness (78%)
  • Consumer retention/awareness (69%)
  • Lead generation (63%)
  • Website traffic (55%)
  • Thought leadership (52%)
  • Sales (51%)
  • Lead nurturing (37%)

You might want to read the book, so you can see the type of advice Handley and Chapman are giving to marketing pros.  For example, they discuss the art of storytelling and science to journalism to develop content that people will care about. They also talk about the need to find an authentic voice and create the type of bold content that prospects and customers will want to share with others.   Readers of Content Rules can learn how to:

  • Define content-strategy goals.
  • Get to the meat of the message by using practical, common-sense language.
  • Integrate searchable words without sounding contrived.
  • Create a publishing schedule for creating different kinds and types of content at once.

To see content-marketing at its best, check out marketingprofs.com and subscribe to their Marketing Profs Today daily newletters. Even if you’re not a marketing pro yourself, you can get some practical tips that can either help you market yourself as a creative pro, or better understand what marketing professionals are trying to accomplish with various forms of communications.

In the online Marketing Profs University, you can listen to the free webinar that Handley and Chapman presented on Dec. 3, 2010.

Content Rules: How to Create the Right Kind of Content

You can replay the broadcast, listen to a podcast, or download the webinar slides and a list of answers to questions raised after the webinar.

The book is available for $11.99 as a Google eBook. Or, you can order a 242-page hardcopy version from Wiley.com, Amazon.com, or BarnesandNoble.com

Links:

“Content Rules”: Google e-book format

Hardcopy book

Wiley.com

Amazon.com

BarnesandNoble.com

3D Printing Provider Says a Million-Dollar Product Is Just a Good Design Away

DESIGNERS. Two trendspotting organizations—Trend Hunter and JWT Intelligence—have predicted that 3D printing (aka “tangible printing”) will be one of those technologies that could really take off in 2011.

3D Printed Vase
At Shapeways.com, everyone can make, buy, or sell their own products in more than a dozen different materials, including metal and glass with various finishes.

In a blog post on TechCruch, Joris Peels of the i-materialise 3D printing service predicts that the hardware and software will become more affordable and at least five new 3D printing startups aimed at consumers will be launched this year.

Peels even goes so far to predict that a designer will earn revenues of over $1 million with a single 3D printed product (not a prototype) in 2011. Peels says several designers have earned hundreds of thousands of dollars selling 3D printed items ranging from chairs to jewelry.

He predicts that as “As many designers get more knowledgeable about the 3D printing process, and media coverage increases, a million-dollar hit is only one good design away.”

In September, Shapeways.com, the personalized-production company started by Royal Philips Electronics in The Netherlands, announced that it will be moving its headquarters to New York. As of September, the company was 3D printing more than 10,000 unique products each month, an increase from only 600 products per month in January, 2009. The Shapeways.com online community has more than 50,000 members and more than 1,000 shops, with some shop owners earning more than $1,000 per month selling their customizable products directly to consumers.

If you’re not yet familiar with 3D printing and how it can be used, check out three sites of companies that offer 3D printing or product-fabrication services.

i-materialise

Shapeways

Ponoko

New Forms of Books Mentioned on JWT List of 100 Things to Watch in 2011

JWT LogoWRITERS. When the global marketing-communications agency JWT released its list of 100 Things to Watch in 2011, many items related to the ongoing digitization of content on various media platforms, mass customization, and the rise of microbusiness. According to the JWT report, “Books will take new forms, entertainment will go transmedia, and journalists will become entrepreneurial.”

Writers can use the JWT list as a rich source of cutting-edge story ideas. But several items on the list suggest new formats for publishing content as well as new types of clients for freelance writing.

Here are a few of the items on the list that caught my eye. (You can download the complete 110-page report from www.JWTIntelligence.com)

Breaking the Book

Now that the market for e-books has taken off, JWT expects to see a rethinking of the book format. For example, we might see an iTunes-like market for single chapters of travel guides, anthologies, or textbooks.  Professional writers will be encouraged to fill the niche between magazine articles and books. And, we might also see more serialized works through apps that send subscribers a chapter a week.

Children’s E-Books

JWT predicts a rise in the number of children’s e-books for color-enabled screens, such as the iPad and Nook Color. These dynamic storybooks will enable children to switch from text to educational games and graphics. The JWT report notes that “Traditional children’s publishers such as Random House and HarperCollins have jumped on the bandwagon, as have startups.” Ruckus Media expects to have 26 children’s e-book apps in 2011, with 75 more in the works.

Entrepreneurial Journalism

The next generation of journalists is being trained to launch their own enterprises by pulling together traditional journalism with business and technology. For example, the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York is offering a two-year master’s program in which students can study media across all platforms: digital, broadcast, and print. Courses in the program focus on the business of managing media and the study and creation of new media business models. The school also offers a certificate in entrepreneurial journalism for midcareer journalists who have worked in the traditional, mainstream media and understand they need new skills.

Long-Form Content

As blog posts and news items have shrunk to fit our attention spans, JWT trendspotters believe the novelty of long-form journalism will stand out and more readers will turn to mobile devices, e-readers, and computers to access it. JWT cites innovations such as Longform.org, Longreads, Instapaper, and Treesaver.

Storied Products

As consumers look for a personal connection to brands, expect to see more companies play up the people and stories behind their products. It could be everyday employees, the people who produce the ingredients, or the owners of small businesses.

Transmedia Producers

Transmedia is defined as “the art of communicating messages, themes, and story lines to mass audiences through the strategically planned use of multiple transmedia platforms.” The Producers Guild of America describes the job of transmedia producer as overseeing a project’s long-term planning, development, production, and/or maintenance of narrative continuity across multiple platforms, and the creation of original storylines for new platforms.

Digital Downtime

Because so many items on the JWT list seemed techno-centric, I was pleased to see that JWT’s director of trendspotting Ann Mack expects a bit of a backlash against all things digital. She notes that “To balance our growing immersion in the digital world, people will increasingly embrace face-to-face gatherings and digital downtime.”

Digital downtime is described as “mindful breaks from digital input, intended to relieve stress and foster creativity.”