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Joe Wikert
I'm Publishing President at Our Sunday Visitor (
Interests: Hockey, baseball, football, science and technology
Recent Activity
Michael, I think your self-driving cars analogy is a good one to consider. We're closer to that stage than most people realize and I doubt many people would have guessed that would be the case five years ago. The story doesn't go away in the model I'm describing. The model is less useful in the fiction world but the stories that need to be told in in the non-fiction space, including things like "here's how such-and-such is accomplished", are just as useful in the model I outlined. Just look at that Narrative Science example I also provided; they're able to spin up a story based on nothing more than names and numbers in a box score. David, I didn't say books and other containers will be totally eliminated. In fact, I noted that they'll fade into the background but they'll still be around for many years (see my opening paragraph in the original article).
For the past several years I’ve been writing about how containers such as books, newspapers and magazines are slowly fading away. They’ll certainly be around for many years but their relevance will slip into the background as personalized, digital content... Continue reading
Do you remember when Amazon introduced both “Look Inside” and “Search Inside” functionality for books? They were such simple yet revolutionary features at the time. Before Look/Search Inside it was impossible to do a simple flip test like you could... Continue reading
If you only listen to one podcast this week make sure it’s the one embedded below. It’s one of the most inspiring and thought-provoking talks I’ve ever heard. The speaker is Bernard Roth and the talk is from a series... Continue reading
We take it for granted that when we open our favorite ebook app it automatically jumps right into the last book we were reading. And while that’s handy, I’d like to see at least one other option when I open... Continue reading
There are a number of key attributes successful publishers will be known for in the future. These core capabilities will be very different from the ones that have led to the modern empires of the Big Five. Some attributes will... Continue reading
I spend a lot of time commuting to and from work in my car and I try to use the time wisely. I cycle through a playlist of podcasts every week but I feel like I’m missing out on other... Continue reading
You make an excellent point regarding the complexity of this task, Brian. I'm assuming this parsing tool would have some inputs (e.g., known keywords and perhaps synonyms for those keywords) as well as the ability to get smarter as it processes more text. It's easy for me to say and hard for someone to develop, I know, but I'd like to think it's possible.
Last month I shared some thoughts about how indexes seems to be a thing of the past, at least when it comes to ebooks. I’ve given more consideration to the topic and would like to offer a possible vision for... Continue reading
Vourkos, you are absolutely right that models like this exist. As I mentioned in my article, I was inspired by Google's service as a standalone app. I haven't seen the model applied to ebooks though and that's why I wrote this piece. I'm curious to learn whether you feel your Pollfish service could be integrated with an ebook application. Drop me an email and let's continue the conversation there as it would be great to experiment with you on this. I can be reached at jwikert [at] gmail [dot] com.
Hi Ken. You could certainly implement what you described above but my biggest concern is scalability. You'd ideally want a model where the ads are more fluid and require no manual intervention (or selling). However, in the travel agency example you mention, I could see where maybe that agency might be interested in sponsoring and being the exclusive advertiser throughout that book. If so, and if the financials make sense, those survey questions that appear from chapter to chapter could be for the agency's questions and they'd have full access to all the answers. Ads in print are another option but they obviously won't have all the dynamics and flexibility of digital editions. Plus, you won't be able to get much data from them other than discount code conversions you insert in the ads.
In today’s market there are typically two methods for ebook distribution: free or paid. I’ve said before that one day we’ll see an ad-subsidized model take hold. Purists generally reject that concept, saying they won’t let advertisements interfere with their... Continue reading
I’ve been a fan of unlimited e-reading services for at least a couple of years now. When Oyster Books went under I shifted to Kindle Unlimited. For short-form magazine content I use Texture, the offering formerly known as Next Issue.... Continue reading
Thanks for your thoughts on this, Mike. Perhaps a real example will show you that this doesn't result in throwing the retailers under a bus. The ebook is generally created at the same time the print book is about to go off to the printer. Let's say that date is March 21. I'm suggesting the ebook becomes available exclusively on the publisher's website on March 21 while the print book is being produced. In all likelihood, that book going to the printer on March 21 doesn't hit physical bookstore shelves till at least two to three weeks later, typically April 4 or 11. In reality, it often takes even longer than that before it first appears on shelves. In the scenario I just described nothing much happens between March 21 and April 4/11. Sure, print backorders accumulate, but that process could continue in the scenario I'm describing. For those two to three weeks after March 21 the publisher could make the ebook available only from their website and print distribution is not affected. I suggested a monthlong period of ebook exclusivity in the article but it could just be two or three weeks. It depends on the publisher's schedules and how they decide to leverage this sort of approach.
Ebook windowing is a technique designed to prevent ebooks from cannibalizing print book sales. The original thinking went something like this: Release a new title in print format only, thereby preventing e-cannibalization. The result? Frustrated consumers. If you’re an ebook... Continue reading
You're quite welcome, Brian. I'd like to clarify something... The vision I described in the article isn't mutually exclusive with an index in the back of the book. I can see where it would still be beneficial to include the back-of-book index as well as the inline one, mostly for the points you described.
Thanks for adding your valuable comments to this discussion, Jan and David.
You're right, Thad, and I believe our points of view are not mutually exclusive. The end-of-book index can co-exist with what I described in the article.
When was the last time you used an index in an ebook? Maybe the better question is this: Have you ever used an index in an ebook? One of the challenges here is that most ebooks don’t have indexes, the... Continue reading
I almost bought an Amazon Echo last November. It was on sale for $129 and I figured it was too good a deal to pass up. Amazon promised two-day Prime delivery but they got overwhelmed by all the orders and,... Continue reading
I’m convinced we’re still in the very early stages of ebook evolution. The current print-under-glass model works great for some books but long-form digital content has so much more potential. The market will ultimately move beyond the only option readers... Continue reading
Each time I finish a book I end up going through the same inefficient process: I head to Amazon and a couple of other sites to look for other titles on similar topics that might interest me. I usually find... Continue reading
Hi Bob. Thanks for sharing your Baen experience. Your point about letting customers send the books themselves is where I see an opportunity. It can still be automated but as long as the files are sent by the customer, not the publisher, there shouldn't be a problem. Still, as I noted before, Amazon could shut the entire program down but that would seem a bit over-the-top, even for Amazon. I realize what I'm suggesting here is different from what I originally wrote but my point is that this still represents a service that has potential.
Thanks Mackaybell. As with just about anything, this isn't without risks. I'd like to think most reasonable readers would assume that, particularly since I'm suggesting one use Amazon's own platform to help neutralize it. That obviously comes with risks. Regarding samples, yes, many publisher sites offer samples directly but I haven't seen any that push those samples onto a reader's Kindle bookshelf. I'm simply pointing out that the bulk of ebooks these days are read through the Kindle platform, so it's wise to think about how to integrate efforts like samples within that platform.
Thanks for weighing in on this, Steve. I'd like to think the MOBI standard is firm enough to support this, particularly since it's what Amazon itself uses for their ebooks. Nate, it's not lost on me that Amazon can shut this service down at any time. That said, I still think it's worth pursuing, especially since it can be implemented by a publisher with minimal development expense. I also hope the DOJ starts paying attention to the various ways Amazon reinforces their dominant position with tactics like this.