As I mentioned in my previous post, at the Frankfurt Book Fair two weeks ago Ebooks were certainly the buzzword. Interestingly enough, whilst everyone is talking about Ebooks, there are as of yet few (if any) sustainable (let alone profit-making) publishing models for Ebooks. However, experiments are increasingly being conducted. This has led to the rise of so-called ‘publishing platforms’, which serve as facilitators for these kinds of Ebook publishing experiments. There are a few eager entrepreneurs that have surfaced lately and sensed the value they could add to the publishing value chain (whilst of course also hoping for some profit for themselves along the way).
One of these publishing platforms is Tizra, which calls itself an epublishing service provider. Tizra offers a publishing platform, web-based, which can be used for the presenting, organizing, selling, distributing and marketing of Ebooks and similar content online. One of their biggest customers is MIT press. Where Tizra offers its platform, publishers keep complete control of the websites hosted by the platform. Last September The Association of American University Presses (AAUP) announced a cooperative venture with Tizra, through which AAUP members would be eligible for a discounted access to the platform. In this respect the platform offers the technical resources, or better said, the software, whilst the publishers add the content, offering the ability to small presses to move into Ebook publishing. As the AAUP states:
“Tizra’s service is affordable for small presses, and scales to handle large content collections and extensive customization, meeting the range of needs of our AAUP membership.”
With its service Tizra hopes to stimulate experiments with bringing Ebook content online. This is exactly what Impelsys, which offers ‘electronic content delivery solutions’ also states to do with their iPublishCentral platform. I visited the presentation on their platform during the Frankfurt Book Fair on Thursday. As with Tizra, publishers of all sizes can use the basic features of the iPublishCentral platform for free to promote their Ebook content online. Impelsys also offers marketing widgets to publishers to promote their content on for instance social networking sites. As Impelsys states:
“Publishers can now digitize and monetize their printed books without the burden of a lengthy development cycle or the hefty costs of traditional online publishing and infrastructure.”
Impelsys clearly states that there are not enough experiments being done with Ebooks at the moment. Therefore the iPublishCentral platform should stimulate experiments with different business models. For what I could find on their websites and on the web, revenue to maintain the platforms is created by both service providers in different ways. Businesses using the Tizra service pay usage fees, as well as a share of online revenue. With Impelsys the publishers pay for added services and advanced functionalities.
The rise of these kind of businesses or service platforms is very interesting, not only because of the services they offer but also because they seem to be a sign of the growing trust in the sustainability and even profit making capabilities of Ebook content. Next to that they could also serve as facilitators for new Open Access initiatives of small publishers or even of libraries or academic groups and organizations. Let’s see what kind of experiments these kind of platforms will host in the future. I for one will keep a close eye on their development. Any tips on other likewise initiatives or platforms, let me know!