Tag Archives: Cambridge University Press

Are ‘phablets’ a rival for e-reading devices?

The above video is a shocking yet accurate depiction of the growing smartphone-obsessed culture which is becoming apparent within society. The New York Times posted this intriguing article a couple of weeks ago, ‘More Connected, Yet More Alone‘, and talks of Charlene deGuzman’s reasons behind making the video. Nick Bilton, the person who wrote the article, speculates whether smartphones are having their ‘TV-in-the-kitchen-moment’?

From the video, I can definitely see how it relates to today’s society. Particularly with social media playing a prominent role in people’s day-to-day lives, and the recent developments in mobile phone technology over the years, it is so much more easier to connect virtually than it ever has been; so much so that I believe that people are becoming obsessed with it. The day after the New York Times posted this article, The Guardian published an article stating that phablets are big in Asia-Pacific, equalling tablets and laptops combined.

The Guardian reported that 25.2 million phablets – ‘large-screened phones with screen sizes of between 5in and 7in diagonally’ – are shipped in the Asia-Pacific (excl. Japan), roughly the same amount of devices shipped as tablets (12.6 million) and laptops (12.7 million) combined (figures from research company, IDC). It is believed that it is Samsung’s Galaxy Note, inspired by Dell’s Streak phone in 2010, which has truly sparked the surge in phablet technology.

Looking at the evidence, it made me wonder how it will affect publishing in the future…

I wrote about this earlier in the year with my blog post: ‘Adaptive Web Technology and Publishing‘ and even the figures mentioned there stated that by 2016, 2.1 billion mobile browsers will use HTML5 browsers, therefore adding to the current 17% of the world’s population which has a mobile subscription.

As it can be seen from the articles in the NYT and The Guardian, more phablets than laptops and tablets combined are being shipped in Eastern parts of the world – imagine what the figures would be should Western parts of the world be included, too. For me, it poses the question as to whether e-reading devices such as the Kindle could soon become old news, especially if technology is moving towards a smartphone future…

Publishers are already recognising that ensuring their content is available through smartphones is adamant. For example, academic publisher, Cambridge University Press’s ‘Cambridge Journals Online’ platform has launched a Mobile version. In addition, publishers such as Penguin have launched various Apps to use on mobiles and tablet devices, Kindle has an App which is available to use on devices other than Kindles, and with social media sites such as Twitter, publishers are able to interact with the end-consumer on a regular basis.

What’s to say, that we ourselves, aren’t publishers? For those who use Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets, every post, tweet, and status is published for the world to see. Phablets make this easy and with the growing obsession of ‘connecting’ with one another, it appears that we are increasingly moving into a world where access to content is constantly in demand.

Personally, I do not believe that phablets are a serious threat to e-reading devices… yet. The article from The Guardian only takes into account the figures for Asia-Pacific, and it is already common knowledge that the technological market is by far greater and more advanced than other parts of the world. E-reading devices such as the Kindle will continue to develop, and while the ‘I Forgot My Phone’ video shows people using their smartphones, not Kindles/iPads etc., I believe that the majority of people may not necessarily make the link of reading books on their smartphones just yet. Saying that, I do feel that the concept of publishing on a wide scale is pretty much there when it comes to smartphone technology.


Print textbooks more popular than digital

I noted an interesting tweet from @DigiBookWorld the other day:

Only 3% of students used a digital textbook as the “core” course material last semester, down from 4% in the fall

The tweet included a link to the article by Jeremy Greenfield on the Digital Book World website, which noted that the e-textbook revolution was still waiting to happen. Whilst sales for fiction ebooks appear to be soaring, it seems that the e-revolution for academic textbooks isn’t quite meeting expectations. According to a survey of over 1,500 undergraduate students, digital is still critical; however, the majority of students favour print textbooks. The reasons for the result were split 50-50: some students prefer the look and feel of a print book, whilst others pointed out that they would not be able to re-sell a digital textbook.

The research was made by Bowker Market Research. The Director behind the survey, Carl Kulo, stated that students feel that print textbooks are better value for learning and for money.

Despite this result, digital textbooks are still proving popular amongst some students who favour them for being easy to carry and for the text being easier to search. Results show that students trying digital textbooks is actually up 31% from 28% in the past two years, proving that digital textbooks do still have a hold on a considerable amount of the marketplace. Although growth is slow now, Kulo believes that the market will begin to pick up in the next two-to-five years. Digital is only set to soar in growth as more and more students use some form of digital in their studies, particularly with emerging learning management systems and integrated learning platforms. Even publishers use these types of platforms to present training materials for editors, and also to help customers in their day-to-day lives. A good example is online learning platform, Cambridge English Teacher, which Cambridge University Press has made available on their website. The aim is to help teachers (current and aspiring) to enhance their own knowledge of grammar, for example, to help develop their teaching techniques.

The article makes me doubt whether universities shall stop spending as much money on textbooks, journals and monographs. I wrote an entry not too long ago, ‘Open Access: in, £50 breeze blocks: out’, which explored a prediction from the vice-chancellor of Durham University, who stated that as digital and Open Access becomes more popular, universities will cut their spending on print materials. He also made a point that students could not afford to buy ‘£50 breeze blocks’. It seems that these students, however, are very much for print textbooks…

In my opinion, I am with the majority of students who believe that print is better monetary value and value for learning. Whilst I do still use digital textbooks and articles which I access through my University Library’s website (mostly if the print version is not available), I feel that textbooks are easier for studying. Not only are they good value for money, you can annotate it and easily access it next to you, as opposed to clicking between computer windows. They may be a pain to lug to-and-from the library, but I feel that their presence is still, and will continue to be, a very solid feature on every student’s bookshelf.


Bloomsbury Spark – new e-book only imprint for Bloomsbury

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Bloomsbury Publishing has launched a brand new imprint called Bloomsbury Spark. The imprint will be for Young Adult novels and will be one of the first imprints in publishing to publish ebooks only. The first set of digital books will be released in September 2013.

According to the article in The Bookseller, Bloomsbury Children’s head Emma Hopkin said:

“We’ve seen a great increase in our digital sales in both the US and UK, in particular for YA titles, and we realised there was no YA-dedicated digital list, and Bloomsbury can offer local marketing around the globe for these titles.”

Bloomsbury has offices all over the world. Most notably in New York, New Delhi, Sydney and of course, London. By having such a vast presence in some of the world’s biggest cities for publishing, it will be interesting to launch the imprint and see where it is most successful. It is thought that the imprint will aim to publish 40 titles per year once the imprint is launched this autumn. With bestselling YA novels such as Twilight and The Hunger Games having been released by Atom and Scholastic, in the past, it shows that there is a massive potential success for the imprint when it launches.

Little, Brown already has an ebook only imprint, Blackfriars. With new electronic devices being launched and the potential of smartphone technology, digital will continue to rise. I think the main question is, which publishing houses will follow suit, next? Although Little, Brown and Bloomsbury appear to be some of the first publishers to adopt digital imprints; academic publishers such as Cambridge University Press and their Cambridge Books Online – a digital ebook platform which was launched in 2010 – show that are also adapting to the digital world.

Does this pose a danger to print books? Personally, I don’t think so. I don’t think that the public have fully embraced digital just yet. It’s all still quite a new concept and there are still issues with pricing, as well as a danger of the market being too saturated with products for people, publishers and other companies, to have fully taken everything digital on board. People still like the comfort and beauty of having a physical book in their hands.

Having recently attended a book talk in which Audrey Niffenegger talked about her new book, Raven Girl, (more on that, later!) I had the amazing opportunity of getting my copy of Raven Girl and The Time Traveler’s Wife signed. How would authors sign a digital copy of a book? There are still small matters such as this which prevent the book dying out completely. (Ok, so this obviously wouldn’t be one of the only reasons why print books wouldn’t die out, but it is definitely something to consider!)

Moreover, another recent article by The Bookseller  where print sales hit a 2013 high, shows that print is doing better than ever. The article mentions that in the week leading up to 9th March 2013, £25.2 million was spent on print books and was up from 1.2% the same week, last year (figures from Nielsen BookScan). So, after look at this evidence I think it’s safe to say that print books are here to stay. It must also be noted that the future is extremely exciting and unpredictable for publishers, regarding digital. It will be interesting to see the success of Bloomsbury’s new digital imprint, and whether the venture will encourage other publishers to do the same in the future.


Imagineering the book trade of the future

On 20th November 2012 last year, I attended one of the Cambridge Publishing Society’s events headlined by the Cambridge University Press President, Stephen Bourne who gave an intriguing talk entitled ‘Imagineering the book trade in 2050’.

Whilst I did not blog about it at the time, I saw this article (Google Glass offered for $16,000 on eBay) on The Guardian today, and it triggered the event in my memory.

Firstly, I feel I must define the term Imagineering – imagining how things can be in the future and engineering that through. Bourne commenced the talk by describing the changes in technology over the past 50 years by mentioning colour television sets, telephones and the first cell phone in 1984. He then proceeded to talk about possible book trade scenarios in 205o…

This included the increase of reading on devices, ie. the Google Glass.

Originally bought at $1,500, the Google Glass was sold for $16,000 on online auction site, eBay. Bourne described that smaller devices with the ability of ‘virtual expansion’ would be a thing of the future, however Google’s new gadget has brought the future to the present. Bourne also stated how he though that devices of the future will be eventually become to be linked to the nervous system, controlled by the brain and our thoughts. This I found to be reiterated through an article which The Guardian published the other day where it said how Douglas Engelbart, pioneer in computer science and inventor of the computer mouse, voiced his strong belief that ‘computers had the power to augment, rather than replace human capabilities’.

That said, one thing which Bourne made clear in his talk and is also something which I believe, is that future devices will be shaped by what the public demands. Who knows how the technology of today will be adapted in the future. Certainly in terms of publishing, Bourne stated how there will be a change in reading patterns where books will be read in bitesize chunks. In terms of the Google Glass, I believe it is devices like this which will take over the Kindle and iPad in favour for a device which will do everything. Personally, I’m not yet sold on the thought of walking around with a computer in my glasses. That said, that was the kind of attitude I had when I first heard about the Kindle.

It will be interesting to see how the future of publishing will be integrated into devices such as Google Glass. One thing is for sure, currently being in my early twenties, I cannot wait to see what technology will be available in my early thirties.


Cambridge University Press visit

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Yesterday the MA publishing group had a field trip to the fantastic Cambridge University Press University Printing House. We were told about various departments at the Press and heard talks from a variety of people including Richard Fisher (MD Academic and Professional Publishing), Dan Edwards (Senior Commissioning Editor, STM Journals), Helen Barton (Commissioning Editor, Linguistics), Alastair Horne (Communities and Social Media, ELT), Liz Warman (Global Content Production Director) and Fiona Kelly (Director of Intellectual Property, ELT).

Each speaker gave a brilliant insight into the workings of the Press and how they contribute to the thousands of titles published each year. There were also brief talks from former and current MA Publishing students who talked about their experiences at the Press and how they came to work there.

I found everything really interesting and it has definitely fuelled my ambition of wanting to work for the company. It was great to hear each person’s experience and to also hear about current ways the Press was changing to accommodate for the digital age.

We also got a tour around the Customer Services and HR Department. I am really excited for April as we shall get to visit the Printers for CUP. (More on that when it happens!)

Even if in the future I do end up working for a company as successful as Cambridge University Press, currently I am definitely undecided on which department I’d like to work in. Everything sounded so interesting. I think I would like to do something with ELT. I studied English Language and Linguistics and English Literature for my undergraduate degree (and also did a little teaching in Denmark a few years back), so the thought of going into that part of publishing would be something which I would find interesting.

Until then though, all I can do is work hard and hope that one day, it will all pay off.