Borders is trying a new experiment to combat Amazon and Barnes & Noble in the e-book wars: It's partnered with BookBrewer, which will bring self-publishing powers to its platform. And the intriguing chance to turn blogs into e-books.
Self-publishing is something other players in the e-reader game are trying too, so Borders probably had to make a similar move in order to keep its e-publishing service relevant. Its clever choice, rather than building its own system, is to partner with BookBrewer--a relatively new company that's already offering some self-publishing.
The basic deal costs just $90 to authors, but this includes proper ISBN coverage for the publication (which usually costs more than $90, all by itself). The advanced deal is a serious-sounding $200, but this does include creation of a full ePub edition of the publication, with the authors themselves retaining ownership of this file so it can be distributed on other platforms (including the iPad). BookBrewer's other selling point is its speed and simplicity--it is essentially a one-click "create book" affair, once you've uploaded the text and chosen a cover graphic.
BookBrewer's other offering is more intriguing: Its service allows a blog (via an RSS feed) to be quickly transformed into an e-book format, so it can also be sold through the same channels as more traditional texts. It's a kind of reversal of thinking about digital publishing, almost like printing out your Facebook friend pages as a paper-and-ink book. Yet it's also strangely powerful: Popular blogs can sell their back editions for off-line perusal on e-readers, with little overhead charge. This will appeal to folks off on long vacations who're looking for a different kind of reading experience to the usual glossy-covered airport novel.
Academics who use blogs as an integral part of their teaching experience can quickly turn their digital online works into reference texts that students may buy to read offline--handy for those moments when you can't (or don't want to) connect to a mobile Web source. We know e-readers and tablet PCs are going to redefine academic publishing, and this is just another tool to complete that transformation. The low price of e-text publishing may even be a welcome boon to students who're often used to handing over big piles of cash to cover expensive paper textbooks.
To keep up with this news, and more like it, follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.