Reading books on the Web is not new. But is online reading to become the latest trend in digital book publishing?
Online books have been around since the Gutenberg Project started digitizing books and made reading books on the Web possible. Nothing new here. But the advent of e-readers and e-reading apps quickly squashed the short-lived online reading trend started by Gutenberg and other online reading sites. If you were on a plane, sitting in the doctor’s office, or anywhere not connected to the Internet or sitting in front of your computer, reading books on the Web wasn’t convenient. Reading apps from iBooks, Kobo, Kindle and the upswing of e-readers, such as Nook and Kindle, took the spotlight for several years.
Always Connected with Phablets
Today, most of us are “connected” 24/7. Between our phone plans and wi-fi hotspots, we are never offline. Even airlines are offering wi-fi, and sometimes for free. As the technology of connected devices has changed, so have our reading devices of choice.
- E-reading devices first offered us the opportunity to read offline. The sale of e-readers hit its peak in 2011 and has been on a downward trend ever since, with projections for 2016 to drop more.
- Tablet sales, which allowed for installed reading apps and wi-fi came next. Tablet sales have shown a steady increase, with the exception of a dip in 2015 and a projection to even out in 2016.
- But both e-readers and tablets have left something to be desired: ebooks are largely presented with re-flowable text, generally supporting only a few fonts and no page design. A rather dull experience for the lovers of beautiful books.
- Now sales of cellular-enabled devices are on the rise. According to market researcher IDC, devices that offer cellular plans and allow users to stay connected are slowly overtaking tablet sales. These include cellular-enable tablets, the so-called 2-in-1 devices that are tablet-computer hybrids, and portable phones. That’s right phones. With the new larger screens, reading on phones is on the rise, according an article in the Wall Street Journal, The Rise of Phone Reading.
The new breed of large-screen phones, affectionately known as phablets, is making reading books on the Web easier. Add the advantage of being always connected, and reading online is a new reality.
Google certainly recognizes the reading trend on tablets and phones. The Google Play site displays this image showing the possibilities of reading on any size device.
What Do Phablets Mean for Digital Book Publishing?
The rise of phablets means digital book publishers have new publishing options.
Take the new PubML plugin for WordPress, created by Dave Bricker. With this plugin you can create an ebook that’s as beautiful as a print book but designed for reading books on the Web.
The books created using PubML look like real books when published to the Web. They can include beautiful design, standard book proportions, lovely type, drop caps, and styled chapters.
Dave’s a book designer. He created this tool to allow those who love beautiful books to have the opportunity to read beautifully designed books in a digital format.
The plugin works in WordPress, an easy website creation platform, and the one I use for this site. The tool makes use of HTML5 coding, but in the background. You never have to see the code. You simply enter your book information, much like you do when creating a blog post. This allows the book to take advantage of all of the flexible advantages of Web design, while presenting an online book that almost feels like the “real thing.”
It opens up a new reading experience for book lovers and improved design for digital book publishers. And because the books can be read in a browser, readers, with their new, always connected phablets, can benefit from a rich reading experience.
I interviewed Dave on and we talked about the challenges facing digital publishers and the advantages that reading books on the Web could offer.
Add Video, Photos, and More
Creating books for online reading offer another advantage. You can include the same elements that you would in a website, such as video, audio, interactive maps, photos, popups, and more.
With the advantage of adding rich media, you might think that defeats the purpose of the beautiful book. But no. The rich media is hidden in discreet links that the reader can click and open for a more interactive reading experience.
And There’s No Easier Way to Edit an eBook
I have to tell you, I’m in love with this new plugin for digital book publishing. Not only does it offer beautiful design that replicates print books and includes the option to add rich media for an interactive reading experience; it’s also easy to use for creating and editing ebooks.
In an article, Make Beautiful eBooks with WordPress, Dave elaborates:
“One challenge facing authors and publishers is the limited set of tools available for creating eBooks. It’s easy enough to export an eBook from Adobe InDesign or other software, but if you want to edit an eBook, the process is too technical for most writers. The PubML WordPress plugin tools make eBook editing easy, visual, and intuitive.”
Sell Your Book on Your Own Site
Creating a book for reading on the Web means you can offer your book to readers from your own site.
- You can embed the book in a page and allow anyone to read it from your site.
- You can purchase a domain just for your book and embed it there.
- You can also create a buy link and direct readers to your book after they’ve purchased.
- You don’t need to share your profits with an online retailer, and your readers don’t need an app or e-reader to access your book. It’s right there on the Web.
Create an EPUB with a Few Clicks
If you do want to sell your book via online retailers, you can also upload your ebook to Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, or any online retailer. With just a few clicks in the PubML WordPress plugin, you can publish an EPUB.
Be warned that e-readers may not be able to render the video and other interactive elements. But you can publish the EPUB to online retailers and publish the rich media ebook to your own site. Anyone with a computer or tablet and an Internet connection can read your beautiful, rich media book.
You can read Dave’s article, Make Beautiful eBooks with WordPress, complete with embedded videos of a webinar where he demos the WordPress plugin.
You can also watch the interview and webinar on Pub.ink TV, my YouTube channel.
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