Digital publishing and the Ebook revolution

Children today, the digital natives of tomorrow, will have an intuitive relationship with digital books. It is estimated that by 2012 around 20% of book sales will come from ebooks. This represents a huge shift in the way we read books, which are likely to be described in the future by publishers as Content. Soon, reading ebooks will be as common as using the Internet. We’ll probably wonder how we ever lived without them.

The emergence of the digital book or ebook has been described as the most significant revolution in publishing since the introduction of Gutenberg’s printing press. More and more, ordinary folk are reading and accessing written content on computer screens every day. Many publishers are seeing this shift as huge logistical challenge but the benefits surely outweigh these issues. Licensing arrangements across physical territories can limit the availability of printed books to consumers. In the digital world, if a consumer has access to the appropriate digital devices, huge amounts of new and backlist titles are available for their enjoyment. Printed book materials have to be sourced, printed, stored and distributed to the retailer, which then has to be managed and controlled. In the USA alone, around 30 million trees are used to produce books per annum; digital books are an environmentally friendly data file – no trees required, with more freedom of storage and distribution handled by a global operator like Amazon or iTunes.

Readers may expect to have more than just text in their books. The use of other media such as video, audio and even 3D graphics will become an accepted form within a standard ebook. Touch enabled devices, such as the iPad, open doors for the latest audio-visual elements and interactive enhancements to be added to this Content.

Media company, Kiwa Media has created an interactive digital format for children’s books on touch enabled devices like the iPad – one of the first forms of digital publishing that isn’t just a book transferred to screen. QBook has some unique, multi-language features, including touchable text: touch a word or sentence and have that part of the story read back to you; double tap a word to hear it being spelt. Young readers can also colour in each page of the book and record their own narration. The QBook format even allows the use of animation if the publisher so chooses.

Kiwa media VP of technology Luke Tomes says the creative flexibility of the format, the use of multiple languages and a competitive production price gives publishers an easy access route to get children’s books on the iPad and into the hands of consumers.

If you have an iPad, you can download a free QBook from iTunes

Check our review section tomorrow to hear what a teacher and her 5-year-old thought of QBook after giving it a whirl – Ed.

Editor in Chief at here SMNZ, I have a passion for social and digital media. When not writing and managing SMNZ I am the Head of Innovation at TAG The Agency, a digital ad agency and the Head of Sales and Marketing for End-Game, a software development agency. I'm also involved with a number of startups and I am always keen to support those that are bold enough to give things a go. Start something, better to try than to live wondering what if...


  1. @Commonrm Reply

    At the moment, it's the most popular or best-selling books that are "made digital". Arguably, this is because the only thing an e-book has to offer over a printed book is greater accessibility. I wonder then if businesses like Kiwa are creating books that offer more than just transferring printed-on-paper to printed-on-screen we'll start to see that trend reversed?

  2. @HelenSteemson Reply

    Yeah I agree – people aren't going to stop wanting books. The smell of binding and the sound of the page as it turns is too good to miss. Books will just become more special again, which is fine by me. Doesn't matter how poor the content, books hold a bit of reverence for me, I hate throwing out books. Even abridged editions of Bridget Jones' Diary. It'll be nice when only books to be treasured ever make it to the shelves.

  3. @jjlorimer Reply

    I have to say I am not a fan of the idea of an Ebook, personally it's not something that engages me. I find reading is often a welcome break from staring at the eye-straining glow of the computer monitor.__And I doubt an Ebook will hold up as well at the beach as a trashy paper-back.____My personal opintion aside, The upsides – accesability, storage size (data as you say) and the possible additional interation (sound especially good for kids!) – will certainly find a market.____I'm interested to see what the product test comes up with – my mother works with children with learning difficulties so I may pass on the link for the review, it may be an interesting tool for her to consider.

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