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Embracing our Gutenberg moment April 8, 2010

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in eBooks and digital publishing, John Catt Educational news.
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Ebooks are fast becoming Publishing’s Gutenberg moment of the 21st century. Not since the invention of the printing press in the 15th century have books been such a hot topic.

Price wars; format disputes; ground-breaking hardware developments; glitzy global marketing launches.

Such is the pace of change and development in the industry at present, the waters remain muddied as to what the future might hold – but what is certain is that any publishers who are not at least dipping their toes into these new waters are risking being seriously left behind.

And so, John Catt Educational have this week put our first ebook up for sale in our bookshopHead to Head, currently out of print, is now available for download in electronic form as a PDF file.

In addition, our distributors Gardners are currently working on converting the five books in our popular professional development series, Leading Schools in the 21st Century, into ebook format to be marketed and sold through their own mainstream channels. Meanwhile, all of our recent periodicals are also available in ezine format, less current ones in PDF format.

By taking these steps, we are by no means throwing our hat in with those who are forecasting an entirely paperless near-future in publishing. But we are saying that we think that ebooks and ezines are a growing and exciting market, and that we want to play our part in their future.

Even taking into account the potential for an explosion in the ebook market and further leaps in the advancement of ebook readers, we still think that our publications will remain well suited to the printed form for a good few years yet.

However, we are also excited to begin thinking of ways in which our publications will be enhanced by conversion into digital form.

For example, perhaps it won’t be too long before our school guidebooks are available as ebooks, with multi-photo slideshows and videos embedded into the text; virtual tours of school facilities and audio commentary from the Heads; web links to exam results, testimonials from students and other data.

Perhaps our digital professional development titles will contain added content from the authors and editors; videos showing examples of best practice in the classroom; weblinks to related research.

No doubt there will be hitches and glitches along the way, but like most people we remain optimistic that this period of change will also bring with it progress: more efficient, greater diversity, added value and the rebirth of long lost content.

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