The terms “book discovery” and “content discovery” sound great if you take them at face value. There are so few channels for discovering new writers or books, and as author Adam Mansbach recently pointed out, the beleaguered publishing industry is at a loss for how or where to introduce new works to new audiences. Unconventional alliances (like McDonald’s distribution of books with Happy Meals) seem to be the best ideas.
But as amazing as all this effort toward “discovery” is, I’m starting to see a pattern. For example, Condé Nast recently expressed the desire to “create expanded opportunities for [writers’] work to be enjoyed by new audiences.” Awesome, right? Yet, to do that, their new author contracts limit writers’ compensation for stories that become films.
Likewise, Google has been embroiled in litigation with publishers for the last few years with regards to whether the search giant should be able to surface scanned pages of books in search results. I actually love the idea of being able to “discover” a book on the topic I’m searching, but, again, the problem of compensation to the author of the work has to be dealt with.
Anyway, all this is to say iPad publisher Inkling has announced its intent to be a “content discovery platform”. PaidContent.org reports that much like Google wanted to do, Inkling will surface e-books in Google search results. The difference in Inkling’s approach versus Google’s is they reached out to publishers to secure rights.
“Inkling has secured all of the rights it needs to make books indexable on Google,” the paidContent piece says. “Client publishers include O’Reilly, Wiley, Workman and Pearson. HarperCollins will soon make some of its titles available on the platform, and MacInnis said that Inkling is either in negotiations or has signed contracts with the remaining big-six publishers.”
The piece also reports: “Inkling says the launch of its ‘Content Discovery Platform’ is a way for publishers to make their e-books ‘more discoverable and profitable.'”
Sounds good so far, Inkling, but I’m watching you.