Habitat, a cloud-based publishing tool, is making e-books cheaper and easier to create and distribute, further pushing an industry undergoing change.
Inkling, the publishing startup that developed Habitat, said its platform benefits publishers, authors, and consumers by boosting turnaround time and profit. Traditional books can take months of refining before hitting the market, with red-lined documents shipped back and forth between continents for edits and file conversions.
“To reinvent the book, we had to reinvent the printing press,” said Matt MacInnis, CEO of Inkling and former senior manager of Apple’s international education efforts. “It’s not about replicating the printed page on a screen. It’s about making a first-class interactive experience on every device you target, and this is the first time publishers can do it reliably and at scale.”
Desktop publishing software like Adobe InDesign transformed the industry in the 1980s, but with the growing popularity of digital books for devices like the iPad and Amazon’s Kindle product line, publishers increasingly need new tools to keep up with fast-paced e-book technology.
Inkling Habitat differs because it’s a professional platform specifically made to address the problems inherent in high-end publishing. All edits and changes are instantly saved to a digital cloud drive, creating a complete editing history and allowing access to the files from any location, making cross-continental collaboration faster and easier. The platform also integrates HD video and 3D content, making books interactive for readers.
Technology solutions to adapt to e-publishing’s faster pace are rolling out, but the publishing industry overall has been slow to adjust to the changing landscape of digital books. Five of the top six U.S. publishers, along with Apple, are facing regulatory scrutiny over their pricing practices, and hesitate to give even libraries unfiltered access to digital titles.
Inkling Habitat pays close attention to what slow-to-change publishers need to improve, with a platform specifically built to fix those problems and take advantage of e-publishing’s capabilities. Habitat may give publishers the ability to publish more books faster, generating higher profits and shaking up the e-book industry with powerful new tools.
Other companies are also taking note of the changing landscape. Apple recently launched iBooks 2 and iBooks Author, tools that make textbooks interactive and less expensive, and allow educational professionals to publish self-generated lesson plans and tutorials. Habitat will likely take on iBook’s publishing platform directly, competing on ease-of-use.
Amazon offers the Kindle Direct Publishing Program, where authors can self-publish their work and sell it in the Amazon Kindle Store, removing the need for publishers altogether for authors who are willing to publish their own work.
Habitat is free, but publishers must agree to make the books created with it available in Inkling’s store, sacrificing a cut of the revenues from those titles.
Inkling Habitat is available only to a “select group” of publishers in an early adopter version, but will become available to everyone later this year.