More From Bookhitch on The Digital Revolution

In bookhitch's latest newsletter, this summary of where the digital revolution is at the moment, and how it affects readers and writers. It's copied varbatim from bookhitch:


Stop the Presses! And Go Digital  


The percentage of Americans with smartphones  increases every year and statistics will probably rise during this holiday season. Consequently, publications such as newspapers, magazines, and business-to-business are increasing their mobile availabilities and some are discontinuing print editions all together. "Going mobile" offers  publishers more opportunities to connect with their current consumers and to expand their consumer base. Individual authors can also take advantage of mobile content to get their work on multiple platforms.


There are several important reasons consumers like digital content. The article "The What, Why, and How of Going Mobile" lists seven beneficial aspects of digital content: #1-instant gratification to buy or engage at anytime; #2-promo and coupon incentives at their 'point of highest desire.'; #3-click-to-call to customer service; #4-GPS maps for destination/store-finder/in-store items; #5-phone sensors of environment and digital triggers can add to relevancy of alerts. (This is the mobile version of online target-based advertising.) #6-easy access from scanning codes. (An advantage of QR codes-anyone with a smartphone can scan the code and be linked to a website or landing page.) And #7-match information to personal preferences and proximity. (Similar to online target-based advertising, as well, but much more specified, especially due to proximity.)


Mobile content is a great opportunity for authors, as well. IPads, Nooks, and Kindles are no longer the only eReader devices – smartphones are beginning to double as eBook tablets. Authors can seize this opportunity in two ways: iBookstores and iBooks. Mobile apps for bookstores allow consumers to browse a virtual shelf, while an iBook is the book as a standalone application. According to author Nick Name (real name Piotr Kowalczyk) in the article "How to Effectively Publish and Promote Your Books to iPad and iPhone Users" producing a book app will cost you a few hundred dollars. However, in order to keep the cost comparable to other apps, consumers should only pay around five dollars. Another cost of converting a book to a standalone application is that "you'll have to spend more time and effort to tell users about it." By going the iBookstore route instead, an author is able to use a self-publishing service that offers multi-channel distribution-you publish the mobile version once it is distributed to multiple iBookstores for you.


As of this July, a Pew survey said that 35 percent of American adults have smartphones. Considering that most teenagers and pre-teens nowadays also have cell phones, this percentage is probably higher when including users who are not adults, and will certainly increase this holiday season. Over 80 percent of magazines and newspapers in the U.S. and Canada now offer mobile content, according to "Print Goes Mobile " by Jack Loechner. This percentage has increased dramatically over the past three years. In 2009, only 42 percent of magazines and 56 percent of newspapers provided mobile content, while currently 83 percent of magazines and 88 percent of newspapers do.


Considering these statistics, authors would be wise to utilize QR codes in their book promotion. A QR code looks a bit different than a traditional one-dimensional barcode, but acts similarly. Smartphones can scan the black and white box and instantly be taken to a website. Jan Bear offers that, "2D Barcode: Mobile Marketing for Your Book" that people with smartphones are three times more likely to use their phone than their computer to make purchases. She suggests that authors add a QR code to business cards and book covers.


One point publishers and authors should keep in mind when setting up mobile content for their publications is to target the tech consumers as opposed to the literature consumers. Nick Name suggests  doing this in "Mobile ebook author" because literature people are not likely to purchase the print or eReader version before going to mobile content, while more tech-oriented consumers who do not read as much will be attracted to the availability of it.


Publishers that still do not offer mobile content site development and maintenance costs as the number one reason. Offering mobile content is costly, but some publishers hope to offset this by charging consumers a separate fee for each media platform they use to access content. These publishers are evenly matched by others who think they should only charge each consumer once for multiple platforms. Regardless of how the consumer is charged, it is no secret that publishers are "cashing in" on going mobile, even if that means discontinuing print editions.


According to the article "Ziff Davis Enterprises Going Mobile, Discontinuing Print Editions," this  business media publisher  announced in October that they would be discontinuing print editions of the brands "eWeek," "CIO Insight," "Baseline," and "Channel Insider." Instead, the company will be offering mobile content for several different devices, which the publisher says will increase their audience reach since mobile content updates will be more frequent than print. Other publishers are less rushed to discontinue print editions but have nonetheless embraced mobile content. Companies like Hearst Corporations and Conde Nast plan to add thousands of digital subscribers. Writer Mike Walsh reports in "Mobile Devices Boost Magazine Subscriptions" that a study by the Association of Magazine Media found that out of 1,000 people surveyed, 90 percent of people who read digital magazines said that they consume as much, if not more, content than before.


It is no wonder why more and more publishers and authors are breaking into the mobile content market. Instead of fearing that print editions are dying, authors and publishers can grow with the technological flow in order to publish on as many platforms as possible, which consequently allows them to reach more consumers.




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