No matter whether publishing house deals with books or periodicals it should at least study and consider possibility of publishing electronic versions of own publications, which, if all goes well, will not only a help, but also, perhaps, be the core of the business.
This short article will try to guide you through basics as well as discuss the main distribution channels for electronic publications.
The print media market is going through hard times and this situation will hardly improve. The circulation of books falling, once popular magazines close... But that doesn't mean, however, that people read less today. They just get information from other sources, as websites and mobile applications.
With the widespread use of tablets, smartphones and specialized readers equipped with big screens, electronic versions of books and magazines became popular. They can be downloaded for free or a small fee if compared with paper versions. The development of technology and economic situation dictate their own conditions. If the business does not follow them, then the business may have to close.
In fact, these applications (programs) with interface similar to online store are pre-installed by the manufacturer on the device. Apple products (iPad, iPhone, Mac) have built-in iBooks app, Android devices (Samsung,
iTunes interface on
iMac ("Books" section)
The same content user
sees in iBooks application
LG, Asus, Lenovo, Sony, HTC and others tablets and smartphones) sold with a special section of their digital content in Google Playstore (it also contains software, music and movies).
The principle of publishers’ cooperation with such stores is the same as with online stores. In practice, however, it is more complicated to expose a book for sale there.
For publication of the paid edition in iBooks author needs to have a U.S. Tax ID to receive the US ISBN numbers for all books (although this is not a problem: you can buy it via Internet), and so forth. You can work through intermediaries (so-called content aggregators), European or US publishing houses. However, even if you succeed, they will take a share of your profits (in addition to those 30% taken by Apple).
Since the iBooks Store is still unavailable for publications issued in certain languages, there is a number of alternative applications, which are more popular among users. For example, LitRes is not the only above-mentioned Russian online store, but also a well-known application for iPad/iPhone and Android devices. Actually, LitRes substitutes iBooks Store in Russia.
However, popularity is good and bad at the same time: due to the large number of books (750.000 titles) your publication threatens to get lost there, showing sales close to zero. There is also a question of speed of publication of the book in the store, which depends on how busy the staff of LitRes is and timing of fee payment… And, of course, LitRes as an intermediary, will also take a percentage in addition to the 30% held by Apple.
For these reasons, many large and medium-sized publishing houses decide to develop their own application stores for iOS (iPad and iPhone) and Android or purchase licenses for ready stores from developers.
In connection with the current situation, as the rapid growth of e-publications market and degradation of print media market on the one hand, and the inaccessibility of appropriate systems of publication to the vast majority of publishers with considerable potential demand for them, on the other hand, our company decided to develop an easy-to-use, reliable and, most importantly, affordable tool to prepare applications for the sale of electronic books and magazines on iPad - Sky Horse Publishing System (SHPS).
Currently, the SHPS for Android is under active development, but the experience shows that the sales for iOS bring publishers about 80% of the profits.
Development of a high-quality application ‘from the scratch’ just for iOS platform can cost up to $150,000 and take a year and a half. And this is only if a publisher knows what he wants to develop, is able to prepare a comprehensive technical requirements documentation, hires several experienced programmers (with a salary of $6,000 per month) as well as good interface designer and a tester. A publisher may also need a separate project manager, if there is no time to manage development process himself.
Alternatively, it is possible to buy a license for the turnkey system made by the largest developers, for example, by Adobe DPS or Bonnier’ Mag+. Of course, a publisher will get a high-quality product and can immediately start using it, but the price of such publishing systems is quite high and, in addition, publisher is dependent on the developers, because the license needs to be renewed every year and will have to pay not only for the license, but for every download of each book or magazine. Earlier, special website created by Adobe on the DPS system, contained price list, but now they were removed and customers are offered to contact the company representative by phone and e-mail to get detailed information. We recommend you to contact them and verify it by yourself.
In practice, it is not immediately obvious what it is more profitable for a large publishing house to develop own kiosk app or purchase a license from Adobe or Bonnier, as the active use of these systems for a couple of years is comparable to the cost of application development.
To be fair, there are some slightly cheaper systems offered by smaller developers for a bit lower prices, but they are still unaffordable to the majority of even mid-sized publishing houses. Moreover, the quality of these systems is considerably lower than those of Adobe DPS or Mag+.
App-kiosk magazine "Personality" on the iPad-based SHPS
Why the SHPS is a complex tool?
The system consists of three parts:
The SHPS Builder program for Windows 7/8, where a publisher prepares files in a required format;
The server part (specifically configured server software that stores books or magazines);
The application for iPad, which is downloaded by a user.
Below are more details about each part of the system:
SHPS Builder is an easy-to-use program that helps to prepare an electronic file of a book or magazine in the format that a user of the kiosk app can open on his/her iPad, from the original publication in PDF.
PDF file (and, if necessary, attached additional files with full-screen illustrations) just for a few hours with a help of designer will turn into e-publications with various interactive elements as slideshow, embedded videos and other things. For instance, an average 200-page book, which will not contain interactive modules, will be prepared in only half an hour. Thus, editors, with minimal efforts, can put on stream the conversion of their publications archive for iPad readers.
Proficiency in SHPS Builder program takes (when following the attached instructions) just a day or two.
The program interface SHPS Builder, which prepare electronic publications for the iPad
As it was stated previously, all books and magazines, which users download from the kiosk app on iPad, are stored on the publishers’ server. Consequently, it is needed to rent a server (rental price depends on data transmission rate and costs about $20-80 per month; with a relatively small number of buyers at the beginning, you can rent a cheaper server) and configure it in compliance with the SHPS specification. If a publishing house, which cannot perform this work, our company can configure the server on for an extra fee
On the server there will be install a special admin panel-site that allows to quickly and easily add/remove, publish annotation texts and covers, which a user will see in the Kiosk app on iPad. This allows a publisher to avoid any dependence on us, as the developers
SHPS is not only a reasonable price, but a high-quality as well: first, our experienced team has been developing apps for mobile platforms since 2001, doing products for major companies such as Hewlett-Packard; and secondly, we, being ourselves a publishing house, develop and improve SHPS, for our own needs as well.
App Store on IPad ( see " Books ")
iPad is a device that brings a substantial profit to the publishers of digital content.
Kiosk app for iPad is a program with an original interface design, prepared in compliance with publishers’ demands, and with a help of which books or periodicals are distributed (paid and free).
Once the application is prepared and uploaded by us to the Kiosk app, any iPad user can download it regardless of the country of residence. In this application, user will see all electronic publications stored on publishers’ server and can purchase them.
After the user presses the button ‘Buy’ placed under the book’s cover, the money will be withdrawn from his bank card and will come to Apple’s account, which, in turn, will send 70% of this amount to the publisher (30% of it is taken by Apple).
Publisher can track sales statistics at the special website itunesconnect.apple.com with information updated on the daily basis. The price of the publication, called Inn Apps, may be changed by the employee of the publishing house on their own, at the same Apple website.
The number of books a publisher can upload to the kiosk app is not limited. Books and magazines might be divided into thematic sections. There is an opportunity to set up a subscription system for periodic magazines, which, of course, is very profitable to the publisher.
Amazon,Barnes & Noble and other stores: a publishing house or an author signs an agreement with stores (in electronic form) and puts electronic version of the book up for sale, usually in the ePub format. Popular books sometimes receive information support from these stores, but in reality you can earn money only if you release a number of books, as single ones bring rather small revenue, being simply lost in a huge range of publications and competing with big publishers. By the way, today Amazon store has more than one million of electronic books.
Often companies that own largest online stores produce own devices for reading e-books and some of them even started business with the release of devices, and then opened online stores. For example, one of such stores was Amazon, which issued a series of Kindle readers.
In general, for the publishing house it does not really matter which device will be used to purchase and further read the book. Publisher just sells a file of a certain format (ePub, PDF or other), prepared in accordance with the technical requirements of the store.
Russian bookstore "LitRes" on the iPad
To purchase a license : firstname.lastname@example.org or +380 44 332-99-77