Content Strategy and eBooks

Marvel Comics on iPad

The easiest thing to do is wait. When a new technology seems to be bubbling up at the edges of conversation, most people just wait. Wait to see how it turns out. See if it takes off.

When it comes to ebooks, the wait is over. Done. The handwriting is no longer on the wall; it’s being downloaded to your iPad.

Old Models, Redefined
The book business is faring much better than the music industry did when digital changed their business model. As millions of songs were being downloaded in the 90s, music companies were busy protecting their old-media distribution channels. At one time, music stores dotted strip malls and city street. Now, most are gone. Apple redefined their distribution model.

The next to be hit was the video business. Torrents made pirating easy. And since people already had home-entertainment centers, the devices of consumption were already in place. The studios were also slow to move, sticking with DVDs for too long. NetFlix was already busy redefining their distribution model.

Kindle Changed Everything for Readers
When the first Kindle hit the market, it became obvious that this device was going to change everything for publishing. Sure, many of the major book publishers took a wait-and-see approach, but they learned quickly that this device was their game changer. Most major publishing companies have quickly learned how to create, distribute, and support ebooks on multiple ereader devices.

Early ebooks were mostly just files that contained text exported from Microsoft Word. The process of getting these files to your Kindle was sometimes difficult and the experience was inconsistent. Between weird line breaks and other quirks, reading on a Kindle 1.0 was less than awesome. But the book business was a student of history, and they learned quickly how to format content for ereaders. Book industry pioneers recognized that a mobile device is not just a smaller computer monitor.

Here’s why: You can’t really read a book on a computer monitor. I mean, you can, but it’s just not a good user experience. Leaning forward reading your email is one thing, but reading an entire book is rather uncomfortable. If you’re reading for pleasure, you want to sit back and relax. This sit-back experience is critical…and the original Kindle it addressed perfectly. Better hardware and software has made the experience even better  and it continues to improve.

Now with some 800 bazillian iPads, Androids, Kindles, Nooks, Kobos, and Galaxy devices in the marketplace, people are looking to sit back and read. Magazines, books, whitepapers, poems, technical diagrams, memoirs, comic books, newspapers, whatever. People are downloading, leaning back, and reading. It’s a great user experience.

Learning to Format and Design eBooks
So here’s your advanced warning. Get your content formatted for ereaders. Don’t cheat. Exporting from Microsoft Word was okay two years ago. Now you need to learn the right way. Take the high road, create beautiful code, and don’t look back.

Learn the differences (and similarities) between ePub, mobi, Apple iBooks, PDFs, and everything in between. Do your homework, learn the xhtml code, create/innovate for this new channel. Learn the differences between iOS and Android between Amazon, Google Play, and the Apple iBookstore. Learn the hardware, the software, and the distribution models.

Figure out a superior, scalable workflow for an effective, efficient content strategy using ebooks. This is the next frontier for content strategy, and the brave explorers are already blazing digital trails.

The wait is over. Let the content-creation games begin.


My books available as ebooks:


Related Reading:

2 thoughts on “Content Strategy and eBooks

  1. What a great post-don’t wait, do it now. The biggest lesson for publishers to learn is that new media is not going to settle in on formats and delivery vehicles quickly. It’s taken the publishing industry several hundred years to evolve into the stable ecosystem it is today. The digital model is iterate quickly!

  2. Thanks. It’s important to observe, but publisher need to move when the time is right. Now it is the right time to take action with ebooks!

Leave a Reply