Archive for category: Interviews

The Aakash and the future of electronic publishing in India

Categories: Featured, India, Interviews

On the 11th of November, 2012, India presented version 2 of its Aakash tablet. The device comes with a 1 GHz processor, 512 MB of RAM and a 7-inch screen. One of the most striking things about the Aakash is its reduced cost: the Indian state will pay 41 dollars for each appliance, while students will be able to get one at the (subsidized) price of 21 dollars.

The scale of production promises to be huge: at least 220 million tablets will be turned out over the next 5 years. Despite the difficulties faced by the first version, the Aakash will no doubt become an essential digital reading platform in developing countries.

To discuss and delve into these topics, Octavio Kulesz talked to Vinutha Mallya. Vinutha is currently Consulting Editor to Mapin Publishing, and a Contributing Editor to Publishing Perspectives. She also serves as a visiting faculty member to India’s National Book Trust’s publishing course, and as an advisor to the annual Publishing Next conference.

[Read the interview]

 

Ramy Habeeb on digital publishing in the Arab world

Categories: Arab World, Interviews, Videos - Tags: ,

At the O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing conference this last week, Ramy Habeeb talked about digital publishing in the Arab world in this interview. In particular, he emphasises the opportunities presented by an industry that is infrastructurally a blank slate.

Arthur Attwell and Ramy Habeeb on O’Reilly Radar

Categories: Africa, Arab World, Interviews, Videos - Tags: , ,

In an article on O’Reilly Radar this week, James Turner interviews Arthur Attwell and Ramy Habeeb on their work in the lead up to this year’s Tools of Change conference.

From Arthur’s interview:

Mobile is one of the keys to that, I think, for Africa because of the existing penetration of mobile devices, but there may be other ways of harnessing digital as well that will include distributing e-books through libraries and internet cafes, kiosks, any infrastructure that doesn’t require someone to be spending a lot of money on a device. I think print on-demand has got a massive future for Africa, and developing countries in general, because of the way it caters to people with low cash flow and who just need a book right now; they can’t afford to get an e-reader or even a netbook computer to read books in the long-term.

Ramy focuses on the challenges of digitizing Arabic works:

One of the problems with Arabic e-books is that there is no OCR. Google claims that they have cracked the OCR nut, and if anyone can do it, it’s Google. But I haven’t yet actually seen that with my own eyes, to see how it works. Part of the reason why we have issues with OCR is because there are thousands of fonts that are usually customized to local publishing houses. It’s almost like a signature of that publishing house to create their own font, it’s part of the culture in publishing. Also, there are so many dots and lines and other things that an automated OCR system can mistake for a letter or distort into another letter. And to complicate matters even more, because the industry is relatively poor, the quality of paper and the quality of ink used isn’t always the highest. All of these factors combined make OCR an extremely difficult endeavor.

 

Arthur Attwell on ebooks in South Africa

Categories: Africa, Interviews - Tags: ,

Carolyn Meads interviews Arthur Attwell about ebooks in South Africa.

While there is a lot of talk about ebooks, there are many other real issues and opportunities in working with digital files rather than print books. For example, in the education sector we should see publishers experimenting with textbooks being remixed by teachers (e.g see Symtext or Bookriff), schoolchildren getting homework help by SMS, libraries previewing books before purchasing them, books reaching schools more quickly digitally (e.g. see Paperight, which my company is developing), authors working collaboratively with editors and each other, or even with the public (e.g. seethis approach from forward-thinking media company O’Reilly). There are other opportunities in adult education, healthcare, community development and so on. All of these ideas could be monetised, and all stem from the staff in publishing houses getting comfortable with working with digital processes – this isn’t hard, it just takes effort and imagination.

Read the interview on Arthur’s site.

 

New Business Models from Argentina

Categories: Interviews, Latin America, News - Tags:

The series “Future of the industry – new business models” is published in partnership by the Frankfurt Book Fair and the German trade magazine Buchreport. In this section, journalist Alejandra Rodríguez Ballester describes the particular publishing system implemented by Editorial Teseo in Argentina.

The publishing company Teseo is geared to the academic world and aims to channel the need for academic publications. For traditional publishing companies needing large print-runs, doctoral theses and university research papers are often unprofitable. Using the print-on-demand system, Teseo produces the book in just the numbers ordered online by the reader. In the process, the publishing company offers the advance option of a digital viewing via Google Books Search. The publishing company also works closely with Amazon which has books produced in its own printing works in the USA. In addition, cooperation is in place with the Argentinian bookshop Prometeo and other virtual booksellers. At www.ebookexpress.com, Teseo also sells its books as e-books at half the price of the print version.

“Teseo is a local, digital publishing company, we have neither a warehouse nor fixed overheads. It is all set up so that we have no need for a fixed location, the centre of our field of activity is the web and 90 per cent of the software that we use is free”, explains Teseo’s boss Octavio Kulesz.

 

Leading a Digital Revolution

Categories: Arab World, Interviews, News

In an article in Egypt Today, Ramy Habeeb explains his vision for Arabic ebooks:

Habeeb explains that he did a survey and discovered that most books in Egypt are “limited in distribution to how far the publishing house can physically carry the books. That means the majority of books published here in Egypt only have a three to five kilometer radius. That basically means your book is not available in Alexandria, it’s only available in Downtown Cairo. Forget Sudan, forget Syria and the Levant and the [Gulf countries].” Habeeb hopes to appeal to readers who have resigned themselves to never finding the books they want and not being able to afford them even if they can find them.

Read the article here.