As the digital publishing future unfolds, there are several unknowns we often think about. We like to speculate about which devices will win or lose, which e-book format will dominate, etc. Essentially, these are questions about how users will consume written content. From the publisher’s perspective, there are also questions about what tools are best to use. Often this is a complicated decision based on the reading platforms that the publisher wants to target.
Blog-based publishers are an important market segment that is starting to adapt to the changing landscape of digital publishing. In the last decade, they had it easy in the sense that they only target one device (personal computers) and essentially one format (html)*. Now and in the rapidly-approaching future, blog-based publishers will need to evaluate how their blog content looks on a tablet-based browser or whether they need their own custom reader app.
In general, blog-based publishers will prefer solutions that let them preserve their existing publishing tools and workflow, so they can continue to concentrate on writing great content. Since a large percentage of blog publishers use WordPress, it makes sense for them to evaluate solutions based on WordPress plugins. For example, Akismet is a WordPress plugin that helps control and moderate comment spam and is provided in the standard WordPress installation.
CoverPad / PadPressed
A few days ago, I mentioned the CoverPad app from PadPressed, which offers a set of publishing tools and apps that help publishers target the iPad. PadPressed makes this possible through their custom WordPress plugin which they sell as a commercial product. This highlights an interesting digital publishing workflow for blog-based publishers who want to reach the growing market of tablet-based readers.
I visited the PadPressed website to try it out, but found that I needed to buy the product before I could try it out. The pricing seemed fair enough for publishers who are using WordPress. However, since I don’t have my own WordPress server, I was a little shy about paying to try it out. Eventually, I will get around to it.
It is worth noting that PadPressed has stated that they will be moving from WordPress-based solutions and towards CMS’s in general. It seems they have their eye on the larger market of digital publishing and not just content published via WordPress.
Another intriguing WordPress plugin called Anthologize shows great potential. This plugin helps you assemble and build content in the EPUB format, which is the book format used in the Apple iBooks app and several other reader apps available for Apple iOS and Android devices. It originated from the One Week | One Tool project hosted by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. It is now an open source project that is quickly evolving. Here’s a brief description pulled from the Anthologize website:
Anthologize is a free, open-source, plugin that transforms WordPress 3.0 into a platform for publishing electronic texts. Grab posts from your WordPress blog, import feeds from external sites, or create new content directly within Anthologize. Then outline, order, and edit your work, crafting it into a single volume for export in several formats, including—in this release—PDF, ePUB, TEI.
I don’t have my own WordPress server, but I suddenly have one good reason to set one up. By the way, you have to have your own WordPress server (not necessarily your own server), since it’s not meant to be installed on a hosted WordPress service. Since I was just testing it out, I installed the whole WordPress stack on my computer along with the Anthologize plugin.
I will save the review for another post, but I can say that I was definitely impressed. As an early alpha version 0.5, it shows lots of potential and clearly shows that the Anthologize creator(s) have a good understanding of the digital publishing workflow possibilities.