Electronic Innovation is turning the Publishing World Inside-Out: Cutting-Edge Business Products at Book Expo America

Some of the more interesting exhibitors in the digital area of BEA or downstairs at Blogworld:

Attributor Guardian-an anti-piracy tool that crawls "cyberlockers, P2P indexes, blogs, websites and forums," offering not only detection but enforcement, and serving clients like Wiley, Hachette, and Scholastic. The service tracks down pirates and then, depending on the publisher's choice, issues either cease-and-desist orders or get-legitimate-by-paying-licensing-fees messages. http://attributor.com/

Kobo, a combination hardware e-book reader and cross-platform software reader offering such features as localization for multiple languages (Spanish, German French Italian, and Dutch, among others). With a touchscreen instead of a keyboard and the same size screen as the Nook, the $129.99 Kobo is "smaller, lighter, and cheaper," according to Todd Humphrey, Executive Vice President for Business Development of the Toronto-based company, http://www.kobobooks.com/.

The third piece of Kobo's offering is a social network called Reading Life with some very cool features. As Humphrey describes it, "Reading Life, allows integration with social media. You can put a book you're reading out to Facebook and Twitter, and stats on your reading speed, pages per hour, time of day you read most often, and more. And based on that, we handed out 5 million badges and awards, like the night-owl award, the early-bird award. We experienced no push back on privacy issues. And people engaged with Reading Life are reading an average of 50% more" than prior to their involvement.

Humphrey is extremely optimistic in an industry whose print side is dominated by pessimists: "Now that the readers are lighting up, the content business is really heating up. We expected a year ago that 1% of books would be digital, and it's 9%. (overall e-book universe). The book business is changing drastically and quickly, and we sit at the epicenter, enabling book sellers to sell through us and the consumers to engage."

In fact, there were a lot of new tangents slicing through the social media space. Some were tools to reduce work and aggregate content (a product category that has existed at least since Ping.fm was founded in 2008), some (including old standbys like Yahoo as well as newcomers like Newstex) were content networks actually looking at paying writers (a welcome and long-overdue trend!). Interestingly, Yahoo was giving away its style guide as a massive hardbound book (along with a t-shirt and notepad). Newstex, as befitting a player positioning itself as at the front lines, gave away an iPad2, which I actually won. Both of these exhibited at Blogworld; giveaways like that are increasingly rare at BEA itself.

And others were entirely new social networks. A very interesting offering in the latter category is Book Country, a new social network specifically for fans and authors of five categories of genre fiction mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, and romance. Owned by print publishing giant Penguin, Book Country is open to authors from any publisher, as long as they write within one of the genres. Book Country exhibited at BEA, not Blogworld-and well away from the digital area, with an end-of-aisle booth in the main section.

I did a more extended interview with Molly Barton, President of Book Country and Director of Business Development at Penguin, which you can read here.

Phones and tablets also commanded a lot of attention. Several books about mobile marketing and app development were in evidence, including a revised edition of Kim Dushinski's The Mobile Marketing Handbook. Lots of exhibitors in the digital area looking at building apps, social networking tools to integrate across platforms, and bringing the social networking experience in-house and under control. One that I felt had a lot of promise is Toura (info@toura.com, @touramobile), offering point-and-click app building and automatic replication across many platforms. Think of it as like WordPfress for mobile app builders.

For a look at the print world at BEA, please see my related article, "Are These Books Worth the Trees? Junk Food for the Mind Dominates Biggest Publisher Booths at BEA 2011."

More articles from Book Expo America 2011:
* Are These Books Worth the Trees? Junk Food for the Mind Dominates Biggest Publisher Booths at BEA 2011
* Penguin Unveils Social Network for Genre Fiction at Book Expo '11

Shel Horowitz's two most recent books (both award-winners) are Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers and Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet. He writes the monthly Green And Profitable and Green And Practical columns.

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