Thursday, September 8


Today the blog welcomes author and CYA Conference Organiser, Tina Marie Clark as guest blogger. 

Jenny Stubbs (Festival organiser) and Tina Marie Clark
Today I drove 2.5hours to attend an electronic publication panel at the Ipswich Literature Festival. And the drive was worth it!

On the panel were:
Blue Quoll Digital Publishing member: Vincenzo Pignatelli. Blue Quill specialize in apps for itouch, iphones and ipads.
Nadine Bates, director of Hootenanny Books, a boutique Indy publishing company.
Alex Adsett, industry professional and publishing services.

Introducing e-books and digital publishing was one of Blue Quoll Digital Publishing members : Vincenzo Pignatelli. Blue Quill specialize in apps for itouch, iphones and ipads.

After receiving amazing and fascinating numbers of ipads in use in 2011 of 25 million world wide, and the projectory for December 2012 being 40 million, I could well see that there is mighty big market out there… 

But how exactly do you define an app?

An app can be anything that works on an iphone itouch or ipad. It works in conjunction with Apple, and can be anything from a book to a game.
Ebooks in the format of ePub can be used on apple products, but generally belong to other e-reader, and they use technology they can only have stationery pictures and text.

But like everything, there are pros and cons to this market so Vincenzo gave us a few facts:

At present there are over 30 million apps available, and growing daily.
200 companies already producing for apps, and the cost to produce these are  $30,000 to $50,000 each app. But the market is getting bigger and better.

Making an epub reader doesn’t have the same development cost at all.

So how does one make a decision to create an App vs ebook reader product requires a few facts…

Over 20,000 book apps are available for download in Australia alone already. That is separate from the Apps for kids - kids games etc

Advantages of app. publishing:
1.    Feedback from people is instantaneous
2.    Almost no entry barrier
3.    Real time sales report (no waiting months for royalty statements.)
4.    Distribution is taken care of internationally.
5.    When you publish to an app, the availability into the international market is instantaneous.
6.    You are creating a book that has games, movies and quality story into one animated storytelling medium.

Disadvantages of app. publishing:
1.    It is already a ruthless and competitive marketplace.
2.    Lots of rubbish out there.
3.    Studios mass producing low quality apps for exposure

So what do Blue Quoll offer that makes their apps stand out from the other apps:

They believe that apps need to retain and bringing the charm of kids books to life. So how d they do this: With attention to quality and attention to detail. By creating a product that is modular and scalable, Blue Quoll have created a platform from which to continue to plug in and expand on, and they do not require from scratch development again, they have created a story book engine. 

Blue Quoll are open to collaborations with writers and illustrators. Please see their web site for details:

Vincenzo closed on a beautiful illustration where traditional books and ebooks co-exist in the same playing field and that there was room for both.

Next on the panel was Hootenanny Books, Director Nadine Bates

Nadine showed us Mike Matas, Push Pop Press. She then showed some examples of great and not so great apps and ebooks.
Great: Beatrix Potter the tale of Peter rabbit, was nice, classic and clear. The enhancement of the electronic adding to the already lovely test and pictures. Another layer has been added.
Not so great: Don’t smile at a monkey and Uncle (someone’s) underpants book 3…

Apps should be all about the quality and it’s not about how lost your story will get in all the gimmick’s used, but how to enhance your book with those gimmicks. (Suggested that authors & illustrators join Blue Dingo and some of the other connections). 

Alex Adsett was last in the panel to talk.

Alex spoke on digital rights and the fact there is a fear surrounding digital rights from writers, publishers, book sellers, and distributors – everyone is still getting used to this technology and as it is still new, there are no hard rules yet…

Looking at a traditional publisher – at the moment (and this is just a rough estimate) The writer would get 10% of recommended retail price.
For e-rights: 25 %.  

But Alex warned that writers/illustrators should look out for the following in contracts about e-books:

1.    Make sure there is a clause to renegotiate after x number of copies sold.
2.    Negotiate your rights to the books, ebooks don’t necessarily need world rights.
3.    Enhanced ebooks – there is no definition on this so make sure your book is enhanced how you want it to be.
4.    Deal breaker for Alex: reversion of rights... ensure you have a clause to get your rights back. Watch that when it says “no longer available” as ebooks are always available and don’t go out of print, so never get your rights back.
5.    Watch out for pricing model, free books and 99 c books. Not all a good deal.
6.    Costing of ebooks should be about 20 percent lower than print book.
7.    Remember, its okay to split market sell ability eg $5.99 in USA and $15.00 in Australia.
8.    Put a rising royalty clause into contracts.
9.    Remember hat the quality of ebooks depends on the professionalism of your publisher and the care taken by them.

 Alex pointed out the different costs involved with Apps -v- epub ebooks.

And finally – she stated that she was worried about new writers/illustrators with the demise of the traditional book store and their help in launching new artists, but that she had hope as the indy publishers prepared to install e-reader points and book stores by Christmas in at least 100 stores to sell ebooks, that they would still support new talent. No apps sold in stores – still have to go online to the istore for those.
(Ed: the mainly authors/illustrators audience asked many questions. Of most concern was how the input of apps added to the text of (e.g. story books) increased the likelihood of distraction for children and their not using their own imaginations as much.) 


Vincenzo said...

Thank you Sheryl for the excellent report! All spot on I am proud of you, you have been really paying attention.

Sheryl Gwyther said...

Vincenzo, I'm sorry I can't claim to have written the report - Tina did it. I was too caught up taking pictures! :)

Anonymous said...

FROM KAZ DELANEY: Fascinating report - thank you Tina! I'm amazed at how quickly attitudes toward e-pubbing have changed in Australia in the past year. I admit to still being a bit of a Nervous Nellie; as one who's been traditionally published for many years, these changes are totally rocking my very traditional mindset! :-) But I admit some of those fears are slowly abating as I learn more. Thank you for contributing to my education! And thanks to your knowlegable speakers as well - must have been a great session. Cheers, Kaz Delaney.

Dee White said...

Thanks, Tina for a comprehensive report on what sounds like a very worthwhile event.


Peter Taylor said...

That's a great summary, Tina. Many thanks.

A couple of other points of interest, Alex favours contracts where royalies increase after a given number of copies are sold. After, say, 20,000 copies, the publisher will have recovered their costs, so for both print and e-creations there is no reason why the author's percentage couldn't rise, and again after perhaps 50,000 copies sold.

Chris Cheng said that he has it written into the contract for digital products that he must approve the end product before it's released.

Tina C said...

Hey Guys

Thanks -it was different being a blogger and sharing my own notes with the world!

Obviously there is always more said than what we can capture on paper - so thanks for adding Peter.

Kaz, I so agree. A few years ago the idea of e-pub was so scary, but today a large number of people in the book industry are contemplation involvement and hopefully as writers and illustrators we have moved faster than the music industry did, and have learned from them, and can avoid the huge pit falls that happened to creative artists there.

Thanks to Jenny Stubbs for a great festival as always!

CYY later!