Monday, February 14, 2011

"Vook" at the future of multimedia book publishing

I sensed impending doom while roaming my local Borders bookstore this past weekend. It’s been rumored that Borders will go bankrupt and sadly I believe it will - based on what I saw. Signs of the retailer's struggle abound. 

Border's midtown Manhattan store's once hefty art section has been reduced to a dim, colorless nook wedged beneath a non-working escalator. Not long ago its music and film departments  buzzed like a beehive; now each stands eerily quiet and nearly depleted of inventory. Elsewhere seemingly full shelves are stocked with expected titles, but little in the way of selection. To really browse books these days one needs to go online. 

Amazon isn't to blame for Border's demise. Technology is fundamentally changing the book publishing business, from how titles are conceived and packaged to how they are marketed and delivered. Global sales of e-readers such as the Kindle are projected to reach $8.2 billion by 2014, according to the Yankee Group, a Boston-based market research firm. Indeed many books in the (very near) future will be electronic, multimedia productions best "experienced" on portable e-readers, tablets, smartphones. 

One pioneer in multimedia publishing is a company called Vook, which enhances well-written stories with audio and video features, interactive web links and social media. (Vook Demo) Vook launched in October 2009 with four debut titles, published in partnership with Atria, an imprint of Simon and Schuster: Promises, a romance by Jude Deveraux; The 90 Second Fitness Solution, a fitness book by Pete Cerqua; Embassy, a thriller by Richard Doetsch; and Return to Beauty, a health book by Narine Nikogosian.

For more about Vook and the state of book publishing and retailing read this recent blog post on WSJ "Digits." 

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