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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Are Copyrights and Digital Rights Management Being Sliced To Pieces?

Jill Tomich, co-founder of Slicebooks,
based in Denver, CO.
Slicebooks, a rather new startup company in Denver, Colorado - aims to not only slice up and re-mix eBooks, but take them mainstream as well.

They say "Why shouldn't you be able to download parts of books you may want without downloading the whole book?" Sort of the way the digital music industry went when they allowed the downloading of certain favorite songs from albums and re-mixing them with favs from other albums to make a customized album of one's own liking.

According to many in music, this destroyed the music industry in many ways and I'm pretty sure is what the book industry has been fearing since the digital publishing revolution hit like a tsunami.

Why? It wipes out revenue streams and tramples all over copyrights and digital rights. Artists are getting screwed out of their Intellectual Property (IP) as a matter of course. This will happen, if it hasn't already, with  digital books as well.

UNLESS --- the current legal cases in place (with more to follow, I'm sure) force the courts to retool and strengthen the digital copyright, licensing and DRM laws and get better international agreements Re same.

From Slicebooks's reasoning, it makes more sense when applying slicing and re-mixing of eBooks in the education, training, travel, business and health publishing categories. All of these non-fiction categories are no-brainers for being sliced into discreet units of information and then remixed into unique new publications.

But there are benefits for fiction as well, adds Jill Tomich, co-founder of Slicebooks. 

Are they serious? What do you think? Read the following piece by Daniel Kalder from Publishing Perspectives and let me know what you think:

Slicebooks Aims to Take Re-mixable Ebooks Mainstream

Why is it that when it comes to music, consumers can download songs or albums, while publishing remains wedded to the idea of downloading an entire book? This was the question Jill Tomich, co-founder of Slicebooks and her colleagues found themselves asking a few years ago:
“Both as publishing professionals and as frustrated content consumers ourselves, we wondered why the publishing world wasn’t offering the same freedom and flexibility that consumers have had for years with music? In this digital world, why can’t I buy a slice of any book I want, and why can’t I easily mix and match content from different sources? We talked to countless publishers and discovered they didn’t have the time, resources or a platform for making what is otherwise an obvious transition. So we created Slicebooks and set out to make all content available whole, sliced and remixable.”
A Win-Win for Publishers and Consumers

Tomich is adamant that this is a “win-win” for publishers and consumers alike:
“Publishers benefit by being able to instantly generate new digital products from mountains of existing content that has otherwise been only available to consumers in whole-book form. And consumers get the freedom to get just what they need, how and when they need it. Demand for slicing and remixing is understandably strongest in education, training, travel, business, health, and we’ve found that religious publishers are very enthusiastic as well. All of these non-fiction categories are no-brainers for being sliced into discreet units of information and then remixed into unique new publications.
A Mo Yan short story collection "sliced" by Slicebooks

But there are benefits for fiction as well, adds Tomich: “One of the publishers of the 2012 Nobel Prize winner Mo Yan, Skyhorse Publishing, recently came to us to slice some of Mo’s short-story collections. So consumers can buy the whole book or just a few stories if they wish. And as we’ve seen over and over again with the Internet, once a technology is adopted human creativity finds a myriad of ways to use it. This is only the beginning.”
The Slicebooks tool is a web service enabling publishers to chunk books into customizable and ready-to-publish slices in a few easy steps: “In just a few minutes publishers can upload any EPUB or PDF file, singly or in multi-file batches, and then make selections about what slice sizes are desired (sections, chapters, sub-chapters etc.), what front and back matter gets included in each slice, and which one of our custom cover templates to design. The book then gets “sliced” based on the publisher’s selections and loaded into their publisher dashboard. From the dashboard the publisher can edit metadata, download slices or publish them to our ebook store.”
And once publishers have an inventory of content on the Slicebooks dashboard, it is easy to publish a custom remix by simply dragging and dropping slices to mix and match content using the Remix tool. “Again, in just minutes publishers can attach custom covers, edit metadata and publish that new, custom ebook.”

Inventing New Uses and the Consumer Remix Service

Slicebooks Logo
Slicebooks demoed an early version of the technology at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2011, and then launched in beta at the 2012 BEA show. Even in that short time, Tomich says she has encountered clients who have found ways to use the technology she had never dreamed of:

“For example, we were surprised but delighted when a national rabbinical training organization approached us because they wanted to slice up their prayer books and then give their Rabbis the ability to customize prayer services weekly using their iPads. We just hadn’t foreseen that, but now it seems obvious.”
Although the initial focus has been on servicing publishers, Slicebooks is testing what they call “A Consumer Remix Service,” which they aim to launch in the second quarter of 2012:
“It will enable any publisher, blogger, author or anyone with a site to embed our Remix Widget on their site and give their viewers the ability to create custom remixed ebooks. For example, professors will be able to instantly put together custom course packs, travelers can build custom travel guides, and so on.”

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