Jamaican Overdrive - LDC's and LCD's

Written by Sam Vaknin

OverDrive - an e-commerce, software conversion and e-publishing applications leader - has just expanded an e-book technology centre by adding 200 e-book editors. This happened in Montego Bay, Jamaica - one ofrepparttar less privileged spots on earth. The centre now provides a vertical e-publishing service - from manuscript editing to conversion to Quark (for POD), Adobe, and MS Reader ebook formats. Thus, it is not confined torepparttar 108509 classic sweatshop cum production centre so common in Less Developed Countries (LDC's). It is a full fledged operation with access to cutting edge technology.

The Jamaican OverDrive isrepparttar 108510 harbinger of things to come andrepparttar 108511 outcome of a confluence of a few trends.

First, there isrepparttar 108512 insatiable appetite big publishers (such as McGraw-Hill, Random House, and Harper Collins) have developed to converting their hitherto inertial backlists into e-books. Gone arerepparttar 108513 days when e-books were perceived as merely a novel form of packaging. Publishers understoodrepparttar 108514 cash potential this new distribution channel offers andrepparttar 108515 value added to stale print tomes inrepparttar 108516 conversion process. This epiphany is especially manifest in education and textbook publishing.

Then there isrepparttar 108517 maturation of industry standards, readers and audiences. Bothrepparttar 108518 supply side (title lists) andrepparttar 108519 demand side (readership) have increased. Giants like Microsoft have successfully enteredrepparttar 108520 fray with new e-book reader applications, clearer fonts, and massive marketing. Retailers - such as Barnes and Noble - opened their gates to e-books. A host of independent publishers make good use ofrepparttar 108521 negligible-cost distribution channel thatrepparttar 108522 Internet is. Competition and positioning are already fierce - a good sign.

The Internet used to be an English, affluent middle-class, white collar, male phenomenon. It has long lost these attributes. The digital divides that opened up withrepparttar 108523 early adoption ofrepparttar 108524 Net by academe and business - are narrowing. Already there are more women than men users and English isrepparttar 108525 language of less than half of all web sites. The wireless Net will grant developing countriesrepparttar 108526 chance to catch up.

Astute entrepreneurs are bound to take advantage ofrepparttar 108527 business-friendly profile ofrepparttar 108528 manpower and investment-hungry governments of some developing countries. It is not uncommon to find a mastery of English, a college degree inrepparttar 108529 sciences, readiness to work outlandish hours at a fraction of wages in Germany orrepparttar 108530 USA - all combined in one employee in these deprived countries. India has sprouted a whole industry based on these competitive endowments.

Here is how Steve Potash, OverDrive's CEO, explains his daring move in OverDrive's press release dated May 22, 2001:

"Everyone we are partnering with inrepparttar 108531 US and worldwide has been very excited and delighted byrepparttar 108532 tremendous success and quality of eBook production from OverDrive Jamaica. Jamaica has tremendous untapped talent in its young people. Jamaica isrepparttar 108533 largest English-speaking nation inrepparttar 108534 Caribbean and their educational and technical programs provide us with a wealth of quality candidates for careers in electronic publishing. We could not have had this success withoutrepparttar 108535 support and responsiveness ofrepparttar 108536 Jamaican government and its agencies. At every stagerepparttar 108537 agencies assisted us in opening our technology centre and staffing it with trained and competent eBook professionals. OverDrive Jamaica will be pioneering many ofrepparttar 108538 advances for extending books, reference materials, textbooks, literature and journals into new digital channels - and will shortly becomerepparttar 108539 foremost centre for eBook automation serving both US and international markets".

The Medium and the Message

Written by Sam Vaknin

A debate is raging in e-publishing circles: should content be encrypted and protected (the Barnes and Noble or Digital goods model) - or should it be distributed freely and thus serve as a form of viral marketing (Seth Godin's "ideavirus")? Publishers fear that freely distributed and cost-free "cracked" e-books will cannibalize print books to oblivion.

The more paranoid point atrepparttar music industry. It failed to co-optrepparttar 108508 emerging peer-to-peer platforms (Napster) and to offer a viable digital assets management system with an equitable sharing of royalties. The results? A protracted legal battle and piracy run amok. "Publishers" - goes this creed - "are positioned to incorporate encryption and protection measures atrepparttar 108509 very inception ofrepparttar 108510 digital publishing industry. They ought to learnrepparttar 108511 lesson."

But this view ignores a vital difference between sound and text. In music, what matter arerepparttar 108512 song orrepparttar 108513 musical piece. The medium (or carrier, or packing) is marginal and interchangeable. A CD, an audio cassette, or an MP3 player are all fine, as far asrepparttar 108514 consumer is concerned. The listener bases his or her purchasing decisions on sound quality andrepparttar 108515 faithfulness of reproduction ofrepparttar 108516 listening experience (for instance, in a concert hall). This is a very narrow, rational, measurable and quantifiable criterion.

Not so with text.

Content is only one element of many of equal footing underlyingrepparttar 108517 decision to purchase a specific text-"carrier" (medium). Various media encapsulating IDENTICAL text will still fare differently. Hencerepparttar 108518 failure of CD-ROMs and e-learning. People tend to consume content in other formats or media, even if it is fully available to them or even owned by them in one specific medium. People prefer to pay to listen to live lectures rather than read freely available online transcripts. Libraries buy print journals even when they have subscribed torepparttar 108519 full text online versions ofrepparttar 108520 very same publications. And consumers overwhelmingly prefer to purchase books in print rather than their e-versions.

This is partly a question ofrepparttar 108521 slow demise of old habits. E-books have yet to developrepparttar 108522 user-friendliness, platform-independence, portability, browsability and many other attributes of this ingenious medium,repparttar 108523 Gutenberg tome. But it also has to do with marketing psychology. Where text (or text equivalents, such as speech) is concerned,repparttar 108524 medium is at least as important asrepparttar 108525 message. And this will hold true even when e-books catch up with their print brethren technologically.

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