If you haven’t heard, Digital Book World moved from NYC to Nashville in October 2018, and we were there to hear all about the latest digitization of our industry. The new frontiers being explored within the literal “digital book world” are vast and exciting, as long as you’re willing to get on the digi-train!

A simple comment that continues to ring in my ears from that week is this: “The world continues to digitize.” — A representative from Google Cloud

Here are a few exciting developments you might not have heard of yet:

  • NovelEffect is a free app that takes children’s books (the publisher pays for this, but the app is free to use) and adds a music soundtrack, complete with sound effects to the background. It’s compatible with Alexa, so you can sit down on the couch with your child, book in hand, and say, “Alexa, read “The Day the Crayons Quit,” and you’ll have a full-on performance behind you as you read. It’s perfect for teachers and librarians to use while reading aloud.
  • Ingram Spark is making it easier than ever for folks to self-publish and to do it with distribution built in. Their self-publishing platform celebrated its five-year anniversary in July. Robin Cutler leads the development, and explained how Ingram Spark offers ebook distribution, with a simple one-time $49 initial investment, and services their authors through print-on-demand (POD).
  • Do you think readers want to get paid to read? Yes, please! ReaderCoin is delivering that innovation. They see users utilizing 8:1, audio vs. reading. Avid readers can download the app on their iPhones and listen away, or read! And earn coins to cash in for real things, like a PayPal gift card! They offer ways for authors to make money as well.
  • Pamela Paul, Editor of The New York Times Book Review, gave an articulate description of how and why they are the “only freestanding book review left in the country and committed to keeping the book review as it’s the most cherished part of the Sunday package.” She was thoughtful and inspiring with her explanation of how The NYTBR has changed over the years. She said, “Books are here to stay but can be enjoyed on many platforms.” We all gasped at her visual description of how many books they receive per week, with 3 staffers used strictly to open book packages and sort! The building that houses the NYTBR had to reinforce the flooring in their section to hold the weight of the rolling rack system of books!
  • Have you heard that Walmart superstore is now selling ebooks with their partnership with Rakuten kobo? As Walmart’s Mario Pacini said, “If you’re not ahead, you’re going to be falling behind.” With their 4,800 stores, that gives 140 million more people access to ebooks. 90% of the U.S. population lives with 10 miles of a Walmart store! We learned about the new kobo former eReader, which will be sold at Walmart stores for $279. This eReader device was developed from kobo’s customer feedback on what they wanted in an eReader, so there’s a comfort light pro for better lighting; you can hold it in one hand; it’s waterproof (I do love reading poolside!), and it changes the spectrum of light.
  • Kobo says that their biggest customer is a reader in their mid-40s (me!) and that they see 20-25% of unit sales from indy publishers’ books.

As someone who has been in the book industry more than 21 years (and has attended 18 Book Expos!), I’ve seen a lot of change! At PR by the Book, we work hard to stay ahead of the digital curves in the road. If you haven’t had a chance to read through our new website, take a look! We’re here to help turn authors into influencers.


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