The digitalization of the publishing industry should make books easier for everyone to consume, but unfortunately ebooks are released into a world of fragmented platforms and formats. Publification, a new Estonian ebook publisher at the Springboard Accelerator, allows anyone with a browser to publish and read handsomely put together ebooks hosted on their HTML5 platform. Their browserbooks beta is set to be released sometime this fall.
The soon to be released Publification beta will include the online editor, reader, and social sharing tools. CEO Yrjö Ojasaar tells us they will then begin adding more features including social marketing and monitizaiton tools, such as paying with a tweet, paypall, and SMS payments.
There’s already a sample browserbook of Moby Dick up on Publification.com, and the service feels pretty slick. The Browserbook scales intelligently to any window size, and it’s easy to navigate to anywhere in the book. The service also takes advantage of the natural swiping motion on an iPad, which is crucial for any sort of ebook.
Today’s large publishing houses have recently been under enormous pressure to cut costs so they scaled back services to their authors. First the advances were dramatically reduced, and now everyone but the A-list authors are responsible for doing their own promoting on social media, organizing their own book tours, and even finding their own editors. Ojasaar points out that “having to do all of the writing and most of the marketing makes most authors wonder why they have to give away about 80% to the publisher and another 15% of the remaining 20% to their agent, and whether they could do it themselves”
This fall they plan to release a couple browserbooks from internationally known authors. Already they have announced a November release of Alan Moore’s new book “No Straight Lines.” But aside from the big authors, Publification is also looking at giving more control and increasing the payout for independent authors who are tired of giving away 85% of their earnings to their publishing house.
Because Browserbooks are hosted online, the ebooks can also take advantage of rich media, such as sound and videos. Instead of a “learn to play guitar” book having a few diagrams or pictures, a browserbook could feature a few quick videos to supplement the text. In short, “Rich media allows authors to greatly expand the definition of what a book can do,” says Ojasaar.
This connectivity also gives authors greater access to analytic data on who’s reading their books and how they’re engaging with it– a service most major ebook publishers don’t provide. Knowing where your readers are, and how they’re sharing your book on social media are crucial for book tours and marketing.
Publification’s browserbooks open on any device with a browser, no downloads and no special reader software is required. This opens up their ebooks to over three billion devices, compared to the limited number of Kindles or other e-readers produced.
“Publishing is a tough industry dominated by large publishing houses that are very resistant to new business models and technological innovations. However, this is exactly where we see an opportunity,” says Ojasaar.