One of the most anticipated publishing industry events of the year, Digital Book World 2019 is just around the corner. This year DBW takes place September 10-12 at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, located in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee. DBW is a gathering of publishing communities from across the world where nearly 1000 executives and leaders from trade publishing, scholarly publishing, independent publishing, educational publishing, corporate publishing, and all of the technology companies that serve them, come together to share, learn and network.

DBW is distinct from many other conferences, the event is known for lending different insights on publishing trends every year, and a trendsetter in the industry for the next 6-12 months. It’s a place where you can listen to valuable talks from industry leaders representing organizations which are currently changing the facet of publishing. This year Lisa Lucas, one of publishing’s dynamic young leaders and the executive director of the National Book Foundation, is providing the keynote. DBW is also a place to get first hand information about new products and services, new tools and ecosystems, new revenue streams, new ways of thinking, and a new sense of community.

Some of the big names we will hear from at DBW 2019 are…

National Book Foundation, Audible, Penguin Random House, The US Copyright Office, LSC Communications, Foreword Reviews, Dolly Parton’s, Amazon’s Alexa team, The Motovun Group, The University of Michigan, Mike Shatzkin, BISG, Microsoft, Hachette, Kickstarter, The Fisher Company, The DAISY Consortium, Firebrand, Capstone, Talaera, Simon & Schuster, Southwest Airlines, The House of Anansi Press, Human eSources, Innovation and Tech Today, Scenarex, Orna Ross and ALLi, The Collaborative Knowledge Foundation, Books + Publishing, FutureProof Content, Novel Effect, Vearsa, Readerbound, Earplay, Dosdoce, Klopotek, Simon Fraser University, The Writer, Overdrive, Books International, Macmillan, and many, many more.

The DBW Awards will be distributed at a reception programme on  Tuesday, September 10, after the day’s program concludes. The reception will also see Mike Shatzkin’s inducted into the Publishing Hall of Fame, and the Celebrity Roast of BISG’s Brian O’Leary. The DBW Reception is included complimentary with full conference registration. Alternatively, a limited number of passes are available here.

Impelsys, as every year will exhibit at DBW 2019. Stationed at  booth #302 this year we present to you our flagship publishing platform, iPC Scholar. The platform for publishing and elearning is leveraged by over 200 publishers and associations across the world in steering their digital expansion. Impelsys helps all types of publishers and enterprises to upgrade to cutting edge technologies – to fully leverage the power of digital publishing. Register here for a free demo of iPC Scholar at DBW 2019.

Digital Book World is one rare event where you get to see things differently and you meet really important people. This year we are looking forward to meeting a lot of people and we are excited about it, hope to see you in Nashville very soon…

Predatory Journals

Getting published is paramount for academics and researchers. In a competitive field where thousands of Ph.D holders are vying for jobs, it holds significance in their immediate and future prospects and their reputation in the community, they either “publish or perish”. But getting  published is not easy, not for the newbies or an unestablished academic, when it comes to leading journals they are almost out of reach to them. It’s a fiercely competed space, and universities and colleges demand their teachers to get published, and publish as many papers as they can. Here comes predatory publishing, a parallel world of pseudo-academia that propagates pseudo-science, contaminating scientific publishing with low quality, poorly reviewed and unedited content. It feeds on the dire needs of academics who need to get published, charging them a publications fee anywhere ranging from 100 to 1000s of dollars.

Working in the guise of open access publishing, predatory journals offer instant publishing and bombard prospects with emails. A highly commercial and shady business wherein poorly written, unedited, implausible and sometimes copied content is published in exchange of huge money, which at times also dupes and publishes established authors with credible research papers, thus contaminating and chipping away into the credibility of it.

Predatory journals masquerade so cleverly as established and reputed ones that often professors and researchers who desperately need to get published but are new to the publishing world are not able to differentiate between the genuine and the fake. On this webpage, few characteristics of predatory journals are listed, however academics should dig deeper and do a little research among seasoned colleagues to find out the validity of the journal. But what about those who know the reality, who have the idea that a certain journal is dubious, the editorial board it claims to have is nothing but obscure names and it publishes just about anything for money?  An article in New York Times says that it’s increasingly clear that many academics know exactly what they’re getting into, which explains why these journals have proliferated despite wide criticism. The relationship is less predator and prey, some experts say, than a new and ugly symbiosis.

Turning a blind eye

The trend is further fuelled by the the fact that there is no risk or damage in publishing in these journals, in fact, regardless of the legitimacy of the journal in which their paper is published, researchers get promoted. Derek Pyne, an economics professor at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia, wrote in an article published in the Ottawa Citizen, that some universities turn a blind eye to the problem of predatory journals. Research destined for legitimate journals may require significant support in terms of research assistants, access to expensive data sets and other costs. Publishing in legitimate journals also requires a significant investment in time (often years) both for the original work and subsequent rounds in the refereeing process that in the end may not result in publication. This investment is lower in predatory journals that have even published computer-generated nonsense papers. The time freed up can be used on other activities valued by the university, such as service and teaching.

It’s the economic incentive (not because of less publication charges, but by the way of less intensive research required to get published) to the universities and easy publishing for the authors, predatory journals provide both, at the cost of adulteration in scientific communication. Universities which do not get enough funding for good research and even conduct cookie-cutter research, and academics who need to get published but whose research is not significant enough for legitimate journals, are they to blame? But it’s science and research that takes the toll. Maybe the industry needs some fundamental changes, may be regulate or keep the low grade publications in check, and find a way to accommodate more authors.

Elearning Trends 2018

The global elearning market is a continually shifting landscape, facts like increase in the number of edtech startups every year, geographical expansion of the market and predictions that the elearning industry will cross USD 200 bn mark in a couple of years point towards the mass acceptance of online learning in modern education systems. Year 2017 saw an increasing number of local colleges embracing online learning to complement their learning programmes, and there were other prevailing trends and technologies that shaped the future of the industry. The trends predicted to move the parts and gears of the industry for 2018 broadly follow those from the previous year. Also there is an inclination towards some new concepts that might have an impact on the industry.

Bite-sized Learning

Microlearning is not new for 2018, the practice was there in the education industry for many years and was popularized and given a new form by enabling technologies in last couple of years. However, the trend finds top spot in the current year as well, the reason being the acceptance of its impact in online learning programs as a powerful aid in imparting short but meaningful bites of lessons. Elearning providers worldwide have embraced the utility of microlearning and now most of them are providing 3-15 minutes long bites of lessons that learners can access and learn during the short breaks of their usual routine, at work, at home or while on commute. Almost all of the microlearning lessons are accessed on mobile devices.

Mobility

Mobility, though on the list for more than a year now, still has a swathe of unexplored territories in online learning world. With almost everyone of us carrying a smartphone, anything that reaches and is accessible on our devices has a bigger possibility of consumption than on a PC. Elearning providers when designing courses have to think mobile first, as most of the modern learners love to do things on-the-go. Microlearning lessons, elearning games and video lessons, which are becoming significant contributors to any elearning program are best consumed on mobile devices.

Games that Teach Lessons

Gamification is not a new word for the industry, however it remains trending more than before, the reason being its wide acceptance by the industry and the multiple benefits that come with games as lessons. We all love to play little games on our devices and feel accomplished when the score is rising or a level is crossed, the same behavior is exploited by gamified elearning lessons. Besides, gamified lessons are proven to engage the learners more than plain text or mundane lectures, they are not stressful, and they can be adapted for any subject or skill. We will see a rise in gamification of learning in future with elearning providers offering more and more of the service.

Varied Sources of Content

Content generation for elearning does not have to be necessarily done by course authors and trainers only. User interaction with the courses generates ample amount of content that could lead to new insights, SMEs can have their own interpretations and ideas which could lead to better comprehension of concepts. User generated content is taking form as a new trend in the industry. Platform providers have to offer tools that accumulate and optimize user content. This practice will have benefits for enterprise learning wherein stakeholders can provide quick insights leading to better collaboration and exchange of ideas.

Artificial Intelligence as a Game Changer

Artificial Intelligence has been disrupting industries by numbers, education is one industry that has a broad range of use cases and game changing applications from AI. The technology can be used in automation of content creation, assessment, fostering a better learning environment to analyzing individual learning path to advising a career route. Microsoft’s VP, Anthony Salcito sees a lot of potential in. “It’s not about taking data sets, consolidating them and then having everyone use charts and graphs to decide a path. It’s actually having the data in an underlying way orchestrate the right activities, the right experiences and the connections that you need to make to content, to students, to the environment. And that’s true both on the classroom side, but also on the back end.”

He says it’s less about data and more about experience, so based on the learner’s aspiration in terms of career, his schedule, what classes and tests he’s taking, and who his peer groups are — his learning environment can change, and using data fuel the experiences that are unique to him based on his own conditions.

Elearning can gain immensely from Artificial Intelligence, it can augment and complement the efforts from instructors, help them in identifying loopholes in their training methods via feedback and through other data sets help the organization in building a holistic and appropriate learning environment for every individual learner.

With the shape changing nature of elearning industry it’s hard to keep up with every trend and upgrade the existing system. However it’s essential to review the programs and keep an eye on how things evolve, some parts of the evolution become integrated into the industry making it imminent to embrace them. Apart from the above mentioned trends many other concepts take form every season. E.g., online learning mainly consists of interaction with machines, but this doesn’t mean human interaction is not possible. Programs can include a human touch with video lessons, webinars and live discussions among instructors and group of learners. So, more of ‘Human Touch’, which caters to the innate emotional needs of learners will advance as a trend in future. Besides, adaptive learning, interactive videos and social learning are essential parts of any successful elearning programme.

digital publishing trends 2018

We do this at the beginning of every year, dust off the crystal ball and try to gauge what lies ahead for the year. Publishing, now is largely a tech-driven industry that has been evolving every year for over two decades. The trends this year would mainly follow previous year’s, however, some new technologies like blockchain may be regarded with potential applications in publishing and we might see a new drift towards increased demand for quality content and hybrid publishing. Let’s have a look at how the year 2018 will look like for digital publishing industry, what new trends will emerge and which ones will consolidate their foothold.

Quality Content

The storm of content on the web is growing every day. With hundreds of thousands of authors producing millions of titles every year, discovery and targeting are some of the big challenges. Besides, with a humongous amount of ebooks being published each year, the quality of the content tends to get diluted. At a time when the hours dedicated to book reading are shifting towards other forms of media, the number of books skyrocketing and the number of readers remaining flat, the content of the title is under pressure. In order to catch the reader’s attention and earn readership writers have to produce extraordinary content with the power to keep a reader hooked and content that is worth reader’s time and money.

With the rise of online publishing the issue of content degradation has also affected (STM) scientific publishing. Scientific publishing demands a high level of ethical standards like extensive reviewing, editing, accurate representation of credits and verified facts. The multitude of online platforms which do not provide fundamental services like peer reviewing, editing etc are responsible for the drowning of confidence in research literature available online among scholars. Scholarly community which consists of authors, editors and publishers should not be encouraged to publish on these platforms which do not offer the authenticity and confidence required of an ethical journal.

Hybrid Publishing – Digital/ Print

Last couple of years have seen reports of declining ebook sales, citing digital fatigue and nostalgia for print, as the reasons. A little dig in the story will, however, reveal a twist in the plot.Author Earning’s most significant report on ebook vs print sales so far dissects the story in detail. Those reports about the slip in ebook sales constitute data collected from traditional publishers who are selling ebooks at higher prices. And the surge in print book sales mainly constituted of adult coloring books, while 70% of adult fiction sales was in ebooks category last year. And the data didn’t take into account the indie publishers, Amazon and various other channels. So, the point is ebooks segment is still going strong with over 20% of the total books read in US in 2017 being digital books.

STM publishers can leverage the advantage of dynamic publishing – making  use of huge advances in computing power, analytics, and big data to synthesize answers to users’ questions using sources in real time. STM Publishing is right now the fastest growing sector in digital publishing. They have legacy publishing business as the major source of revenue but upgrading their digital efforts, forming a strategic alliance between digital and print and reaching out ot a wider digital audience is inevitable for those who want to stay in the race.

The point to note here is that users are not ready to pay the price of a print book for an ebook, but they haven’t given up the digital version and analyses show that ebook consumption will only rise in future. This indicates that the combined strategy of digital and print publication offers the advantage of both the realms for authors. The current generation of young readers is starting to forget the life before digital; also ebooks come with the digital element of linkability to supplemental video content, subscription-based email content, access to discussion and fan forums etc. Authors should also not lose the sight of print publishing in order to monetize their products, build credibility and audience inflow.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence or AI is not a hot buzzword. We have been using it in some way in our daily lives when you think of Google Maps, Siri, Google Assistant or Alexa, and it has been impacting more and more industries each year. AI has become the mainstay of digital advertising, but how it impacts core publishing still remains ambiguous albeit with great potentials, as it goes from being a newbie to mainstream in the coming years.

One of the major obstacles for publishers concerns book discovery, i.e. finding the right audience for a title, or a reader discovering what she needs. Online book recommendation in many of the retailer sites currently uses some form of AI which guesses recommendations based on past purchases and browsing. But the audience satisfaction is still minuscule; Amazon’s book recommendation is barely accurate for a reader whose taste in reading varies to a wide range. Companies like Booxby use natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) to understand the author’s unique style (referred to as Literary DNA) and then map it onto the way a reader experiences that style. This AI derived literary DNA gives a unique identity to each title which is then matched for closeness to other titles the user has read already, thus making a precise recommendation, even without the user knowing how it is arrived at.

Content recommendation is the biggest use case of artificial intelligence in publishing, and there are other applications which the technology is finding, like search result precision through machine learning and semantics, short reviews and summaries made of coherent and accurate snippets of text (especially helpful in academic and scientific content discovery), customer service using AI chatbots, optimizing social media marketing and automating and optimizing publishing workflow processes.

Mobility

We’ve been talking about Mobility for a couple of years but it finds a top spot in publishing trends even in 2018, and that is because book industry still has a tremendous scope with mobility. Mobile content consumption has surpassed desktop.  Authors and publishers need to have a strong presence on the web that is optimized for mobile devices. From 2018 onwards when developing digital content, mobility should be the priority.

Blockchain

‘Bitcoin’ and ‘how to buy bitcoin’ were among the top three most searched terms in Google in 2017. The recent skyrocketing valuation of bitcoins has bewildered everyone instilling a sense of FOMO. The technology behind the bitcoin, Blockchain is going to have implication for industries beyond finance, and that potentially includes publishing. So far there is some ambiguity of its use for the industry, however analysts are hoping that it might solve some persistent issues like digital ownership for buyers (remember 1984?). Since it’s described to be an open system of a giant, peer-to-peer computer network, it allows transparency that renders every digital copy with a unique identity. Another potential application is in intellectual property (IP) ownership, with blockchain it is possible to trace and equip every IP with a digital ‘fingerprint’ that always changes and evolves as the licensing and ownership status of the IP changes. At the conceptual level blockchain has the potential to unleash a new reality for the publishing ecosphere.

As a terrain that changes every year depending on new technologies, digital publishing always keeps us on our toes. Some of the new terms will find commonplace in coming years making every publisher embrace and apply the new idea. Apart from above discussed there are other things that have been changing the landscape which can’t be ignored to stay in the race. Audiobooks are the fastest growing segment in the digital publishing industry. The United States continues to be the biggest market for the audio format and in 2017 there was over $2.5 billion dollars in sales. Audiobooks are becoming so popular that publishers are skipping the book entirely and are initiating a straight to audio production. Other trends include indie-traditional hybrid publishing – a working amalgamation for aspiring authors and established authors; community publishing – publishing for specific set of readers; visual content, mobile apps, subscription models, professional approach to book cover, authentic photography, social media marketing and more.