Myriad self-publishing sites and services are competing for authors’ and publishers’ business. Blurb.com, a San Francisco company, has introduced an intriguing PDF-to-book service that lets customers use the design and layout application they prefer to create a PDF that may be used to produce the printed book. Moreover, the company offers templates for use in Adobe InDesign, one of the most advanced document design applications available (the one I prefer) and easily followed guidelines for setting up pages, books and cover designs in other applications.
This kind of templated design service is essential to making books that look good, which is one of the keys to selling books, which customers do judge by their covers, the quality of the paper and design.. Blurb can produce books of up to 440 pages using standard paper and 160 pages using premium paper stocks. Pricing is listed here.
Plastic Logic, developer of an upcoming line of e-book reader devices that could give Kindle a run for the money, debuted a new Web site this week. The video content has been available online for a while, but the product pages are more complete and informative than before. A “content store” will launch with the device, according to the site. The site specifically mentions ePub, PDF, Zinio, and Microsoft Office document formats.
The company’s “two-phased entry into the market” starts in Fall with partnered trials, after which they “expect to accelerate the momentum of our sales in 2010.” Partnering for trials, such as offering a device with a newspaper service, is a dicey way to launch, because it requires the partner to succeed, and a device’s success lies beyond the partner’s ability to sell through its channel.
A word of advice to PL’s marketers: Don’t talk to customers like they are a military target. And don’t expect anything other than setbacks, because this wording sets the launch up as a series of barriers that, if not conquered decisively, will be reported and perceived as setbacks. Readers and most publishers don’t deal with “content,” either. They buy or sell books, magazines and news.
At this point in the pre-launch marketing, when building excitement among readers who are also considering their first Kindle, Sony or other e-reader, Plastic Logic needs to present a very different face than it is, engaging with readers and discussing their expectations. Since Plastic Logic’s device is apparently engineered with user’s workflow (again, the wrong sort of military way of talking about “reading”), it should be positioned to address those thinking about an e-book device purchase today.