The Future of Publishing: Ebooks, E-Singles and Their Potential for Business

Davar Ardalan is the Senior Producer of NPR’s Tell Me More, and author of the recent iBooks-exclusive title, The Persian Square a digital book that culls together over 30 media files including audio and video, weaving a modern, multimedia tapestry of Iranian American history going back to the 1800s. Ms. Ardalan contributed the guest post below.

It’s hard to define today’s media architecture, but the success of Amazon’s Kindle Singles and steady sales for the digital publishing start-up Byliner prove that Americans are ever more eager to dive into an electronic book for their reading pleasure or for some in-depth news.

In 2012, ebook sales made up over 22 percent of the U.S. publishing industry’s net revenue, according to The Association of American Publishers. Media companies looking to diversify their revenue stream might want to take note.  According to The New York Times, Amazon sold five million copies of Kindle Singles since it opened in January 2011. Amazon created an e-singles digital platform back in 2011, allowing writers of non-fiction and fiction to publish original writings between 5,000 and 30,000 words. These e-singles also known as e-shorts or Quick Reads by Apple are meant to be read in one sitting.

David Leonhardt's E-Single Here's the Deal from Byliner and the NYTimes
David Leonhardt’s E-Single produced as a collaboration between Byliner and the New York Times

The New York Times has also entered the ebook business. In December 2012, The Times teamed up with Byliner, a leading publisher in the e-shorts space and launched it’s own line of ebooks featuring The Times culture, sports, business, science and health stories. The Times/Byliner collaboration seemed like a “perfect fit” says Byliner Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief Mark Bryant. “Byliner is all about ambitious storytelling that lives in the space between magazine and books, and the opportunity to tap into such a deep, smart talent pool at The Times has made our partnership all the better.”

Two examples of successful Times/Byliner collaborations in the past six months include David Leonhardt’s Here’s the Deal, detailing the ever-contentious debate over the deficit, and Adam Liptak’s To Have and Uphold, on the struggle over same-sex marriage.

Bryant says both of these original Times/Byliner productions have been particularly well received, “There is a sweet spot for these types of stories — original, well written, ambitious narratives on some of the most compelling issues of the day.”  He notes that declining newspaper and magazine revenues have meant fewer and fewer opportunities for writers to publish ambitious narratives.

Bryant says the addition of the mobile reading experience and it’s new subscription reading service or “streaming reading” make digital short stories even more relevant and accessible.

“Stories are being squeezed into tighter and tighter spaces,” Bryant notes, adding that readers are looking for great personalized recommendations that help them “cut through all the clutter and noise and also takes into account how much time they have to read.”

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Synergyse: Google Apps Training for Small Business Users

Synergyse Google Apps training for businessGoogle Apps for Business is quickly becoming a viable alternative to standard email and IT solutions, especially for small businesses looking to move more of their workflow to the cloud. But for many people it can be tough to transition to a new way of working, especially if they’re deeply familiar with older programs like Microsoft Word and Outlook. New startup Synergese aims to take the pain out of transitioning (and lighten the IT burden) by providing real-time Google Apps training right inside the browser window. Synergese’s CTO Majid Manzarpour worked at Google training users in Apps, and two other founders are also ex-Googlers, so they’re approaching the businesses with expertise and experience in training.

As of now, Synergyse is offering training in Gmail, Google Calendar and Drive, the three building blocks of scheduling and document sharing within the Google ecosystem. Unlike a more traditional video tutorial, lessons take place inside the browser, allowing you to learn by interacting with program you’re looking to learn. It’s a more intuitive and interactive approach that allows quicker learning, but lessons are scheduled at your own pace, so there’s no rush.

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EXCLUSIVE: Interview with @SocialcamApp CEO Michael Seibel about his $60 Million Sale to Autodesk

SocialCam Founder Michael Seibel

Michael Seibel of the Socialcam App for iPhone and Android has an impressive resume—Yale graduate, founder and now, the brains behind Socialcam and the engineer of its $60 million sale to Autodesk. With the service boasting an estimated 8 million unique users per day (similar to the numbers on Instagram) a lot of people are asking big questions today: why Autodesk? Was it the right choice to sell out now? Could they have been worth Instagram’s billion dollars if they held out? What’s lies in Socialcam’s future?

I ask the tough questions, and Michael doesn’t back down! Check out the full interview above.

Mobile Video App Socialcam Acquired by Autodesk for $60 Million

We heard the news last night, and this morning it’s everywhere: our favorite mobile video app Socialcam is worth quite a bit—$60 million in fact! While the mobile video scene has been heating up, and Socialcam is by no means the only player, the purchase should mean that the app will absolutely have the funding and support it needs to grow to the next level.

Socialcam’s CEO, Mike Seibel, previously a part of and a two-time vet of startup accelerator Y-Combinator, is a seasoned vet in this field. I’m not surprised in the slightest to hear the news of a successful sale so quickly after his team leveaged Facebook’s open graph to drive awesome growth. After all, Michael assembled a crack team (our friends Ammon, Guillaume, and, of course, the Roxie!), and the four of them built up more than 55 million users mostly over the last few months.

We’re huge fans of the service, after all—Mario has talked extensively about Socialcam these past few months, from what it means to have so many followers, to suggestions for launching a web video series on Socialcam. So while we don’t completely understand how this acquisition will affect our favorite platform, it does tell us a few huge things. For one, mobile video is worth big, big bucks and worth taking a risk on. And two, it definitely isn’t going anywhere.

And if you’re not already on Socialcam, making videos and sharing them from your iPhone or Android device, it isn’t too late—you can download the app today!

JOBS Act Brings Open Source Investing to Startups: Crowdfunding Lets Anyone Own a Piece of a Business – But Does It Really Level the Playing Field?

David Egger is Lead Marketing Manager for AT&T’s IRU (Individual Responsibility User) Mobility Programs. You can find more blog content from David and other experts on emerging technologies and mobile application on the AT&T Networking Exchange Blog. AT&T has sponsored the following blog post.


We’ve all heard the stories of the brilliant tip from a bank or investor – the one that made millions. We can’t imagine ourselves ever missing out on what was so clearly a no-brainer opportunity to make more money than we’d ever imagined.  But would we really have bet the farm on that opportunity?  Hindsight is 20/20, and investors see hundreds of business ideas every week. The decision to move on an investment is often made as much on the people doing the presenting as it is on the business plan.

Thanks to a few websites — and a new law — all of us, not just the ‘accredited’ investors will be able to play venture capitalist in the near future thanks to the JOBS act, recently signed into law.  The crowdfunding portion of this bill will allow companies to solicit investors from a pool of millions without filing all the required paperwork they currently must file to register new investors. Read More