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Help me out! Fill out my survey!

I’m currently working on my dissertation for my Master’s In Publishing. The topic is the evolution of ebook design and the influence of other creative industries. I have two surveys to collect primary research on book buyers’ opinions, so if you have 10-15 minutes, please help me out! Thanks!

Survey 1

Survey 2

Update on proposal progress

Only 1,000 more words left till I’m finished my project proposal! Today I decided to do some mock-ups of the website and mobile version of the website for BookConnect. They’re pretty rough, but they give an idea of what the user will encounter when they go to the site. I only did the view of the home page, but it still gives a good idea of the setup. Each section has a description of what kind of content a user will see in that particular part of the page:

Finally back from London after attending the London Book Fair earlier this week. It was an exhausting couple of days, but I got to see some interesting seminars. One of the ones that stuck out the most was about augmented reality in publishing. There was a demonstration of an app called Zappar. It works by opening up the app and pointing it at a book or object that uses the technology. There’s a little symbol that it has to read in order to activate it. One really cool example was a book about dragons where the app scanned the cover and then it opened up to reveal a dragon egg that hatched and you could interact with. 

The seminar also gave an overview of what augmented reality is and how it can best be used in conjunction with the publishing industry. Of course, it has to add value to a publication and not simply be used for just gimmicky purposes. I definitely think there is a future for this kind of thing in the publishing industry, specifically for children’s books, special editions, and non-fiction/text books. Although, the dragon novel was also really cool, but I can’t see it being used too much for adult genre fiction. 

The London Book Fair also had some really cool seminars on gaming and cross media. I’ll do another post about those later.

This week (April 8th-10th) is the London Book Fair. I’m heading down tomorrow along with the rest of my class, which is definitely exciting. Hopefully I’ve managed to remember to pack everything I need! Anyway, there are TONS of talks going on throughout the three days of the event, so I’ve been trying to plan ahead and make a schedule of which ones I want to go to. I’m especially looking forward to some of the “Cross Media, Gaming, Film & TV” seminars, such as “Augmented Reality in Publishing: Wonders and Watch Outs.” Since I won’t be taking my laptop with me to London, I’ll definitely blog about it when I get back.

The Prezi describing my project that I will be using for my pitch on Thursday. Although I might make some small edits to it before then.

If anyone is looking for a fun crowd-sourcing project to get involved in, this is a pretty fun collab going on at the moment on HitRECord.org. Basically, a user named ThadicalRadical started up this idea of the “invisible family” by writing a tiny story about them. They are just short one sentence stories about something the family did or is doing, or what one of the family members in particular did or is doing. Some of mine include:

"The invisible family perform a seance."

and “In which Sally becomes a magician’s assistant.”

The idea is to come up with a situation that would be strange or funny to see an invisible family doing. Then, other users will illustrate backgrounds and settings, and others still will turn those into animations. There are some up on the site already. So, plenty of easy ways to get involved here. 

Plus, if you go to the HitRECord.org main page there are tons of other collabs (and you can sort by type/skill, so if animation if your thing you can find ones looking for animators… etc.). 

Okay, so maybe this isn’t really “interactive media” related so much, but I think it’s something pretty interesting to discuss. There’s one quote that really stood out to me, which was:

The idea that music is art has been something we advocated for years,” says RZA.  “And yet its doesn’t receive the same treatment as art in the sense of the value of what it is, especially nowadays when it’s been devalued and diminished to almost the point that it has to be given away for free.”

Does sharing art really devalue it? I definitely disagree with that. To me, the essence of art is that it is an expression to be shared. What meaning does it have if it isn’t shared and interpreted by a group of people? It’s pretty grandiose to assume that the only “value” of a work that counts is monetary value. I think the value of art comes from it’s societal value, so artificially increasing a work’s monetary value doesn’t make the work more “worthy” or “deserving” or being called art than something given away for free.

And furthermore, it’s just a bit over pretensious to compare a Wu Tang Clan album to Monet and Degas: “And similar to a Monet or a Degas, the price tag will be a multimillion-dollar figure.”

In the article, Wu Tang discusses the “privatization” of this album and of music in general and how he (they?) thinks that is what the future of the music industry looks like. If that is indeed how the industry will work in the future, then I think the future looks pretty grim. 

Competitors for BookConnect - Project Proposal

So this week I wanted to write more about my proposal and about what the market is like for this kind of app. I won’t rehash what my previous posts say about the project since those are available on my blog. 

First, what similar apps and websites are there? 

The biggest and most well-known is probably GoodReads. GoodReads is a website owned by Amazon that allows users (as well as publishers and authors) to create profiles where they can list books they have read, are reading, and want to read. Users can also leave reviews and enter giveaways.

Another similar website is Bookish, which was started by Hachette, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster. Again, this allows for creating a “bookshelf” and reading/leaving reviews.

Facebook also has a similar app called Visual Bookshelf where users can create a “bookshelf” and share it with friends who are also using the app.

So why the need for BookConnect?

Well, even though there are a lot of similar websites and apps, they all have a variety of issues with usability and features they offer. On GoodReads and other sites, users must manually input the data themselves. This often involves searching by author, title, or ISBN, and usually leads to problems. Many times, their database simply doesn’t have the edition of the book you have or you just can’t seem to find it through the search. This makes your bookshelf less accurate. Also, if you’re a huge book nerd like me, you likely have tons of books in your real world bookshelf, so searching for each and everyone will end up taking ages. I stopped using GoodReads because it was impossible to create a virtual bookshelf that matched my real bookshelf.

Another issue is that these sites and apps aren’t interactive enough. Most of the time, you can only share your bookshelf with your “friends” and not everyone you know will be interested in it. Being able to read reviews and ratings is great, but what would be better is being able to actually message other users to talk about the books. One thing that BookConnect adds is private messaging between users, public comments/dialogue, and virtual book groups that will engage users (whether “friends” or not) outside of just reviewing books they have read. Users will be able to suggest books to other users or comment on other users’ bookshelves. 

      **This kind of interaction could have issues (privacy, bullying/inappropriate comments), but BookConnect would keep users’ information anonymous if that was the user’s preference and would feature “Block” and “Report” options for offensive/inappropriate content, ensuring a safe environment for all users.

This is just some of the research I have conducted on competitors and gap in the market. I will expand upon this further in the report.

I found this via wikileaks on their Twitter feed. It’s a crowdsourcing website helping to try and locate the missing Malaysian flight MR370. Going to the site will help explain how it works, but basically, users search satellite images for signs of wreckage, oil spills, rafts, or other signs of the missing flight. On the site you can see some of the progress they’ve made. This crowdsourcing site also helped in other accidents and natural disasters, including tornados in Oklahoma in 2013 and Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Phillipines.