Posted for Elena Macevičiūtė, Arūnas Gudinavičius

Apple has offered to the users of tablet computers the iPad, which has intuitive management features, is light, mobile and offers easy browsing features as well as the possibility of reading digital books and other publications. In addition it makes possible the use of specific features of the tablet computer in these publications. Thus, Apple stimulated book publishing and distribution on and through tablet computers.

This year several students have defended theses on publishing on tablet computers in the Faculty of Communication at Vilnius University under the supervision of A. Gudinavičius. Here we are presenting the results of two of these studies: “Lithuanian publishers on the Apple App Store platform” by Alisa Žarkova and “Application of the specific features of tablet computers for children’s book publishing in Lithuania” by Alina Kazakevič.

The analysis performed by Alisa Žarkova in her Bachelor’s thesis shows how Lithuanian publishers use the possibilities to broaden the market for books throughout the world using the Apple App Store platform. According to the data of this platform, on the 20th of March, 2012, it offered 183 Lithuanian digital books. The growth of their number in 2011-2013 is shown in Figure 1.

LitEbooks

Figure 1: The number of Lithuanian language titles on the Apple App Store platform. (2011-2013 Ist. quarter)

2011 was the year when the first five Lithuanina book appeared on the Apple App Store platform, i.e., within a year of the appearance of iBooks in the Store. The first book in Epub format appeared on the 19th of May, 2011. These were the Anglo-Lithuanian jokes by Jeremy Taylor (price €2.49).  But before that, in April 2011, the first interactive Lithuanian book (an app) for children was published for iPads only. It was “Smiley Mouse and the rescuers” by Jurga Sakalauskaitė and Donatas Malinauskas. The action and the content of the story in it changes depending on the  reader’s geographical position, time and weather. This feature is based on the GPS usage. The book also features animation and gyroscope, which makes the tablet vibrate if it is positioned at a certain angle. The book was created together by the publisher Realverus and the Gaumina company.

During 2012, fifty-seven other digital books were published on the Apple App Store platform. The most important events of that year were: the appearance of an independent distributer of digital books Prodigita, and the creation of the companies iKalvis, Apps Libri and Interactive Marketing Partner Baltic producing digital books for the Store.

During the first three months of 2013, there were already 106 digital books, i.e. three times more than in 2012. In 2013 the biggest Lithuanian publishers, such as Versus Aureus, Vaga and Svajonių knygos started distributing their books through the Store. The books published by Alma Littera can be accessed through a mobile app 100knygu.lt.

Publishers. Twenty-seven different publishers have published at least one book through the Store. On average, each publisher has produced 6.7 digital books. The leader with the highest number of distributed digital books is the publisher Svajonių knygos, which has seventy different digital titles. This is almost 38% of all Lithuanian digital books on the platform and exceeds three times the amount distributed by the second biggest Lithuanian publisher on the Store – Vaga.

Authors. Lithuanian books on the Store are written by ninety-seven authors. Mostly there are only one or two books by the same author (of 81 authors).  But some authors have more books in the Apple App Store: Vytautas V. Landsbergis (10 titles), Rasa Joni (9 titles) and Jonas Mačiukevičius (8 titles).

Genres. The genres were identified according the official twenty-four genre categories used by Apple. By category, the distribution of Lithuanian digital books is: romances, sixty-nine titles (37.7%); general fiction, fifty-one titles (27.9%); and children’s literature, thirty-nine titles (21.3%).

Language. Most of the books analysed are published in Lithuanian language (166 titles or 90.7%). Nine books are published in English (4.9%), two in German and one title in each of Danish, Estonian, Latvian, Polish, and Russian.

Price.  More that a half of all Lithuanian digitial books in the Store cost from €1 to €3 Euros. A smaller percentage costs between €3 and €5, roughly the same amount from €5 to €10.  Almost 10% of the titles are free of charge and 5% cost less than €1.

Format. 84% (153 titles) of Lithuanian digital books distributed through the Store are published in EPUB format. Only 16% (30 titles) are apps.

The analysis shows that though Lithuanian publishers are rather wary of the digital book publishing, but this type of activity is likely to grow in the near future.

Alisa also studied who is a typical reader of Lithuanian digital books from the Store. This reader is a young person of 18-24 years of age, studying or a recent graduate, interested in modern technologies, loyal to the Apple company and an owner of a tablet computer for reading fiction in English and Lithuanian. This reader often downloads free digital books, but is prepared to pay €3 to €5 for Lithuanian books if their assortment increases.

Alina Kazakevic in her work has analysed how tablet computers can be used in publishing children’s book in Lithuania. She has identified specific features that can be applied to publishing these books (see Table 1)

Specific feature

Functional characteristics

Application in publications

Accelerometer (G-sensor) Sensor meas-uring acceleration of changing linear orientation of the device

 

When the device is rotated the orientation of the content changes, used in manip-ulation of animated objects
Gyroscope Sensor measurng angular velocity and orientation

 

When the device is rotated the images and direction of moving objects changes, used in animation.
Global Positioning System Identifies the coordinates of an object in any place of the world Content changes in relation to the place of the user on the Earth

 

Magnetometer Sensor identifying magnetic fields of the Earth Content changes in relation to the direction of move-ment of the user
Ambient light sensor Sensor meas-uring the intensity of external light Content is adapted to reading in different lights, the time of the day is identified
Touch-screen Data input in-stead of a mouse or a keyboard Direct manage-ment: can imitate turning of pages as in a printed book
Headphones Input and output of sound Ensures the recep-tion of audio infor-mation
Speakers Output of sound

 

Ensures the recep-tion of audio infor-mation without headphones
Micropgone Input of sound Enables content management by voice
Camera Photographing and filming, helps recognition of user behaviour User can create or expand the content with self-created images and interact with the public-ation. Can be used for data scanning (e.g., QR codes)
Network Connectivity Possibility to connect to the internet(by Wi-Fi, 3G, or 4G) Update of content, communication and sharing possibility, scanning user information

Table 1. Specific features of tablet computers and their application in digital publications

The author focused on the application of these functions in children’s books published in Lithuanian.

In March, 2012, she identified thirty-one digital books for children in the Store, designed for tablet computers and published in Lithuanian by Lithuanian publishers. Eleven publishers produced these books. O-press produced eleven books – more than any other. The authors with highest number of books were Vytautas V. Landsbergis (eight) and K. Kasparavičius (three). The usual price of the book was from €0.99 to €1.49 Euros. The publishers pricing strategy was to keep prices low – not exceeding €4.

The application of specific features of tablet computers was analysed in six publications. The author concentrated on interactivity and emotional design.  She found that interactivity is usually created by applying the accelerometer for turning the pages, for browsing, and moving  book characters in animation. Audio features are also used in addition to the touch-screen, without which nothing happens at all.

The first book in Lithuanian for iPad “Smiley Mouse and the rescuers” can be seen as a phenomenon in Lithuanian publishing from the point of view of application of specific features. It used almost all of them and, therefore, is an exception to many other publications on the Lithuanian and international market.

The author has noticed that the gyroscope, widely used in games, is only rarely used in children’s books and with limitations. The use of GPS, computer compass or network connectivity are also applied rarely for identification of place. This possibility was only used in “Smiley Mouse and the Rescuers” where it helps to identify the place, time and weather in a particular place where user resides. These data influence the content development in the book.

The digital book “A frog in a hopper” uses network connectivity for the function of dictionary and directory. The input devices such as microphone and camera are not used in children’s books at all. Only one publication uses the ambient light sensor to regulate the light intensity on the screen.

Though the features of tablet computers are not yet intensively used in publishing of children’s books, they have influenced media use and presentation of the content to the user as well as its perception.

Further, the author investigates the relationship between the experience of interactivity and emotional design that helps to assess the value of a digital publication of this kind for a user. She has used the model of three levels of emotional design (visceral, behavioural, and reflective) developed by D. Norman (2004). The case study of the interactivity of digital books conducted by Ching-Hua Huang su Chao-Ming Wang (2012), who have investigated the effects of sensors, gestures and emotions in children’s digital books) has also become a background for this assessment.

After summarizing the data on the quality of emotional design in children’s digital books Alina concludes:

  • Publications, in which a wider range of specific features of tablet computers is used have higher quality of emotional design. These publications are distinguished by high level of reflectivity, which is expressed in the content to the maximum level. Their potential to transmit a specific message to the target audience is higher than in other publications.
  • Digital publications, in which a minimal number of tablet computer applications are used are less functional on the reflective level. One or another function of the children’s book is less prominent in them, therefore its value and usefulness for users is fuzzy. The publisher experiences problems in positioning the book in relation to its features (it is indistinctive from the point of view of its size, colour, speed or any other characteristic). The more specific features of tablet computers are used in publications the more visceral becomes the interaction of children with the book.

The survey of Lithuanian publishers of the books for children have revealed that publishers themselves agree that usage of specific features of tablet computers in books increase the value of this media. It broadens the content and functions of the book and influenced the behaviour of users. On the other hand, the publishers are anxious that the higher the use of these features the more blurred the boundary between the book and the game becomes in the perception of children.

References

Norman, Donald, A. (2004) Three levels of processing: visceral, behavioral, and reflective. In: Norman, Donald, A Emotional design: why we love (or hate) everyday things. New York: Basic Books, 2004. p. 21–29.

HUANG, Ching-Hua; WANG, Chao-Ming. A study of interactive experience and emotional design on mobile eBooks. Taiwan: University of Science and Technology, 2012. Retrieved 18 March, 2013 from http://www.keer2012.tw/sites/default/files/fullpaper/user/1010317.doc

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