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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Are App Developers Publishers?

Skulls: book-app from publisher Touch Press

Many apps have contributed greatly to digital book publishing (introducing multimedia and interactive features for example) and paved the road to modern publishing ... AND have already staked out out future paths for publishing to expand in.

So, are app publishers true publishers or developers?

Now I know many people get hung up on definitions of terms, especially when those same people have been brought up in  certain older environments where terms had more singular meanings ... before the advent of newer technologies that have possibly broadened meanings.  

Here is an interesting article by  in the Apps Blog of The Guardian:

Touch Press talks digital publishing, Kindle Fire and inspirational book-apps

'We have broken into the Garden of Eden, and it's upon us to take advantage of that opportunity,' says Max Whitby

2011 has been a fascinating year for book-apps, as publishers and developers experimented with multimedia and interactive features, and wrestled with the challenge of selling enough apps to recoup the investment in those features.

The Elements remains the biggest success story of the book-apps world. Its publisher Touch Press has sold more than 250,000 downloads of its flagship iOS app, bringing in more than $2m of revenues for the company according to chief executive Max Whitby.

It has been followed by a succession of book-apps from the firm, including Solar System and The Waste Land in partnership with book publisher Faber, and recently X is for X-Ray and Skulls by Simon Winchester under its own steam.

Touch Press is a transatlantic collaboration, with an office in the UK headed by Whitby, and two high-profile co-founders – Theodore Gray and Stephen Wolfram – in the US. 2011 has seen the company grow to a staff of 25 people, having raised a second round of funding in the summer.

"Quality is the heart of what we do," says Whitby, explaining why the company has grown relatively slowly. "Our relationship with Apple is only as good as our last title. The day we ship a crap title will be a sad day. That constrains how fast we can go."

Right from the start, Touch Press has presented itself as a publisher rather than an app developer – something that Whitby says meets with mixed reactions from the book publishing industry.

"The world of publishing divides between companies like Faber who understand that the way to work with us is as a partner and jointly make something as a team, and those who just see us as an anoraky developer who can do stuff at a price. We just don't do that: it's not the way you make something interesting and new."

Touch Press' founding team were in the right place with the right backgrounds when Apple launched its iPad in 2010. Wolfram and Gray had worked together on advanced computing system Mathematica, while Whitby was involved in the BBC's Interactive Television Unit in the heyday of CD-ROM, eventually leading a management buyout of the unit to form his own multimedia publishing company.

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