Content development no image

Published on March 21st, 2013 | by Rahel Bailie


The increasing relevance of ebooks and other epublications

Recently, I was asked about the future of eBooks, and their relevance in the marketplace. I offered the following perspective and predictions for this emerging technology and associated genres.

  1. More attention will be paid to the technology that allows content producers to improve publishing efficiencies. Organizations tend not to invest in new technologies unless they are experiencing pain. After the first few times they feel enough pain – either missed deadlines, or production costs, or loss of revenue, and so on – they will start looking for ways to produce ebooks more effectively.
  2. There will be an expanded use of ebooks. There are still many companies that don’t use ebooks, and don’t see how ebooks apply to them. Soon, they will start connecting the dots, either because their competitors have taken the leap, and they feel the need to keep up, or someone in their organization has experimented with an ebook, and they’ve gotten good results. The demonstration of the benefits of the technology will start the search for more innovative uses.
  3. There will be more novel uses of ebooks. This isn’t the first go-round for ebooks – I remember the first ebook  cycle – but this time, they quickly morphed from ebooks to emanuals and ecatalogues and so on. As more organizations think to involve creative people in the process, there will be more “experiences” created, way beyond the straight-up dissemination of information.
  4. Ebooks will change how learning is delivered. The education industry is reputedly starting to twig on catering to different learning styles, and the ebook platform seems to be a natural jumping off point for that. It allows instructional designers to provide a personalized experience to visual learners, audio learners, kinetic learners, sequential learners, abstract learners, and so on – all derived from the same body of content in a single ebook.
  5. Alternative distribution and delivery systems will develop. Not everyone wants to put their publication into Amazon or iTunes for delivery. But that seems to be the most common way of delivering content today. There will likely be developments to automate how people distribute their material to avoid proprietary systems.
  6. Formats will standardize to manage the pain of outputs to multiple channels. There are currently a number of formats that are intended to lock people into a platform: .AZW for Kindle, .EPUB for Nook, and so on. As quickly as these formats proliferate, so do readers pop up on competing platforms: Kindle reader on the iPad, for example. At some point, the industry will follow the lead of the music industry, which has a couple of basic formats that work everywhere. It will be the sanity check for authors, publishers, and readers alike.

The adoption of ebooks seems to be slower than for things like mobile, probably because organizations can only grapple with one content challenge at a time. However, as organizations figure out their multichannel publishing challenges, they will also be freeing up some critical bandwidth to allow for exploration of this potentially valuable channel.


Share this post:
These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.

  • StumbleUpon
  • email
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • TwitThis

Tags: , ,

About the Author

Rahel Anne Bailie is a synthesizer of content strategy, requirements analysis, information architecture, and content management to increase the ROI of content. She has consulted for clients in a range of industries, and on several continents, whose aim is to better leverage their content as business assets. Founder of Intentional Design, she is now the Chief Knowledge Officer of London-based Scroll. She is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, she has worked in the content business for over two decades. She is co-author of Content Strategy: Connecting the dots between business, brand, and benefits, and co-editor of The Language of Content Strategy, and is working on her third content strategy book,

One Response to The increasing relevance of ebooks and other epublications

  1. rahelab says:

    I would add to your comment about saving a file to PDF and calling it an ebook – most of the time, the PDFs aren’t even optimized for a good online reading experience. “Save as PDF” is the most basic of the basic. I don’t want to tar and feather all ebooks with the same brush. I think you’ll always have the “slap it up” crowd producing something of limited market value, but that will be offset by industrial-strength ebook applications that are hugely valuable, particularly in the B2B market.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Back to Top ↑