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Vook – a Publisher No More

Vook have just announced that they’re not going  to be publishing their own enhanced ebooks anymore. They’re now going to make a push to  become a conversion service which anyone can use to make an ebook with embedded audio and video. They’re not giving up on the market niche, but they did pivot and go in a different direction.

I have to say that I’m not terribly surprised. I was never convinced that there was a market for enhanced ebooks. In the 20 months that I have been watching Vook and other makers of enhanced ebooks, I have never seen a good piece of evidence that suggests I was wrong.

Vook are in the process of proving one theory I had about enhanced ebooks, ebook apps, and so on. While I am not sure there is a profitable market for enhanced ebooks, I do believe that there is a market for a paid service to make enhanced ebooks. The difference between offering a service and releasing their own titles is that Vook won’t be risking as much of their own capital in making an enhanced ebook. They will get paid based on someone else’s risk.

There’s a market for the  service because only certain titles are going to do well and it takes a content expert (author, publisher, or marketer) to identify what will add the best value to an enhanced ebook. So if Vook plan to let an outsider direct their actions then it would be best to treat this as a service.

That brings up a second point. Even though I don’t think there is a general market for enhanced ebooks, I still think there might possibly be one for specific titles. That market would exist not as part of the enhanced ebook market but as an extension of existing fan base. For example, Pottermore could release an enhanced HP ebook with all sorts of extra content and I’d think the book would have a good chance of turning a profit.

Vook had actually been making moves toward this goal for most of a year now.  They announced MotherVook, their ebook creation tool, some time ago. This is a tool that any of Vook’s parnters could use to create their own enhanced ebook. The only change to day is that now Vook will focus all their attention on the partners and none on creating content internally.

All in all, this is an interesting shift for a 2 year old company. They started out making apps just for iOS, and now can help make enhanced ebooks for Kindle, iOS, Android and I’ve gotten hints that they are working on distributing onto Chrome.

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typity October 4, 2011 um 4:14 pm

I’m quite disappointed that they only make enhanced versions available for i-devices. I’m a firm PC person (which translates to Android/Kindle with gadgets), so even when I wanted to try such a book, I simply couldn’t do it. And if they are going on with this sort of attitude, I’m not sure where this market niche will go.

Sebastien Dubuis October 5, 2011 um 2:51 am

Thanks for the article and the analysis of Vook’s strategy. The overall objective is to become an eBook aggregator for major Publishing houses in order for the publishers to connect directly to their audience. I would have thought that originally there would have been some potential for niche marketplace like they tried to put in place. Yet becoming a successful retailer requires a large pile of dollars for both the marketing and the rights negotiation. All that along with the investment on technology.

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