All eyes are on Las Vegas this week as the shiny, new tech toys for 2011 are being unveiled at International CES, held January 6-9. One company launching its products at the show is Live Editions, which provides a range of professional digital publishing products and services that let publishers and information-intensive organizations publish rich, interactive multimedia ebooks or "live editions." The company debuted its products at the Lunch at Piero's media event January 6 and 7.
"Our solutions enable our clients to repurpose their content by automatically transforming documents into interactive enhanced ePubs, creating new revenue opportunities and leverage their existing content assets," says co-founder Eric Kmiec. According to Kmiec, Live Editions gives publishers the tools to create and distribute interactive media books, where they can embed relevant videos, snippets of movie trailers, audio, pictures, and advertisements with the original content. The company's first products will include LEAP Publisher and LEAP Reader, the first in a set of PC-based tools and device applications in the Live Editions family of products.
LEAP Publisher enables users to insert real-time advertisements, text or multimedia into new and existing epublications, creating interactive publications formatted and optimized for a variety of devices: smart phones, e-readers, Tablets and PCs. One the other side of the publishing equation is LEAP Reader, an application that supports interactive reading and Sharepubs social publishing features. "Communities will be part of our social publishing platform that will be available in Release 2," says Kmiec. "Communities are virtual spaces created by users that allow them to collaborate with others on a project."
Live Editions use the ePub format, making LEAP publications readable on any ePub compatible e-reader, but Kmiec says, those devices "will not be able to playback any of the rich media assets inserted by LEAP publisher. The LEAP Reader was designed to render the enhanced multimedia elements in ePub format."
As the race to digital-publishing supremacy continues to heat up, self-publishing tools abound. Kmiec says there are a few things that set Live Editions apart. This is, he says, "a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) e-publishing solution that delivers self-service distributed publishing capabilities, on-demand anytime, anywhere." The SaaS component isn't, in itself, unique, but Kmiec adds, "Our tools let publishers deliver rich media and advertisements to epublications, unlike static ebook formats or conventional printed books and dynamically reformats document columns and pages (and media resolutions) to fit displays of various sizes automatically."
Publishers pay a license fee and a per transaction fee per content download to Live Editions for LEAP Publisher. For their money, users get 10 GB of content storage, an ad insertion console, user and device management, and usage metrics. In addition, there is an ad revenue sharing model in place. LEAP Reader, however, is available for free as a download. The current product supports Windows XP, Widows 7,and Windows Vista. Next release will support Nokia's Qt environment (compatible with Android, Symbian and Maemo smartphone platforms).
As the market for ebooks and other digital publications has matured, many have complained that some publishers simply don't get it. In many cases, publishers take what they've got on paper-be it a book or magazine-and translate the same static product to the digital page. In other words, publishers just haven't taken advantage of what digital publications can do, in part, because not all e-readers can make the most of what technology has to offer-something the iPad was supposed to revolutionize. Now, Live Editions is trying to make enhanced ePubs par for the course.