BEA SPOTLIGHT: Microsoft’s new book search, full color in print-on-demand, and a new audio-book format
WASHINGTON -- It’s tough to select the top news originating at Book Expo 2006, held May 18-21 at The Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., especially when you brush sleeves with the likes of Newt Gingrich (who was there signing his new book “The Creator’s Gifts,” published by Integrity Publishing), and Queen Latifa, who gave the keynote address for the African American Book Industry Professionals program ... and when you brush fur with a dancing dog, who pirouetted (really) to help promote the forthcoming book “Dancing With Dogs,” published by Thunder Bay Press. But since it would be impractical to list everything notable, here are a few items worth knowing about:
- Microsoft Corporation made a big push for its new Windows Live Books Publisher Program, which will make participating publishers’ books searchable (and purchasable) through Windows Live Search. Publishers pay nothing to participate and will control the amount of content that a search user is able to view-from a sentence to a full page or chapter, etc. If a book is purchased by a user, Microsoft will provide mailing labels and shipping forms to publishers, who will pack the books with the shipping form and send it to Microsoft’s warehouse for shipping to the end customer. (The next issue of Book Business magazine will have more details on this.)
- Lightning Source Inc., an on-demand book manufacturer that prints more than 1 million books per month, announced that it will begin to manufacture full-color books on-demand in August. Print samples that the company had on-hand at Book Expo showed impressive full-color images in several books. The company, a subsidiary of Ingram Industries Inc., will begin full-color production at its U.S. facility in LaVergne, Tenn., and in early 2007 will make color printing available at its U.K. facility. The company would not reveal details at this time about the technology/equipment it will be using to service the full-color on-demand market, but J. Kirby Best, Lighting Source president and CEO, commented that the color offering is the result of “two years of development and testing.”
- A company called Playaway showcased its new device-free audio book format--no cassette/CD player needed, no files to download. The Playaway mini audio-books (about the size of an iPod Mini, but thinner, weighing 2 oz.) are sold complete with ear buds and a lanyard, and run on one AAA battery. You just plug the earpiece right into the mini book to listen to it. Listeners can use tools on the books’ “back cover” to navigate and bookmark content. Titles, such as “Anansi Boys,” John Grisham’s “The Broker,” Stephen King’s “Cell” and “The Da Vinci Code,” begin at $34.95; the company says the titles are priced comparably to audio CDs on the market. Currently, the titles are being sold through Borders, Office Max, and Barnes and Noble.