E-Publishing in Welsh

Welsh Books Council

E-Publishing in Welsh


1. Background
2. Defining an eBook
3. The International eBook market
4. Use of eBooks in Wales
5. Dedicated eBook readers
6. Multipurpose eBook readers
7. Software for reading eBooks
8. Supporting the publishing industry
9. The way forward

Appendix: August 2011 Questionnaire 3

1. Background

The strategy document A Living Language: A language for living noted that "Reading, writing, watching and listening to all forms of media in that language [Welsh] are crucial for it to thrive..... But there is potential to reach more readers through electronic and digital media. We will explore the potential for Welsh language publishers to benefit from e-book technology." The Welsh Government therefore sees the publication of eBooks as part of its strategy to promote the Welsh language and to enable Welsh speakers to lead holistic lives through it.

In order to promote the eBook market in Wales, the Welsh Book Council intends to offer e-books to the public through its Gwales website, and to encourage booksellers who have commercial websites to do likewise. To this end it has nominated Gardners as its e-book supplier. Gardners will receive files in the EPUB format from publishers so that they may be published as e-books using the Adobe DRM system to ensure that digital rights are protected.

As there are some specific technical problems with supporting Welsh in e-book format, the Welsh Book Council commissioned the Language Technologies Unit at Canolfan Bedwyr, Bangor University, to write this report, which includes recommendations for developing and supporting Welsh eBooks. In a separate document, prepared in cooperation with the Book Council's Design Department, technical guidelines will be published to aid publishers to create EPUB files.

2. Defining an eBook

An eBook is a book produced in a digital format. As with a paper book, the purpose of an eBook is to present the reader with content, mainly in the form of text. As in the case of a paper book, eBooks can include images, both in conjunction with text or even without (although this would be unusual). It is true that eBooks can include additional features which facilitate the reader's experience (for example the ability to jump from the index to a 4

specific chapter with a click), but these useful additions are minor evolutions rather than revolutions and do not constitute a fundamental difference between the paper format and the digital format1.

1Sometimes, the term ‘eBook’ is used to refer to multimedia software which may include audio, fideo and text within an interface that emulates the pages of a book.

See for example thoes published in the Nici a Cris series by Acen:

http://www.acen.co.uk/cy/siop.html?page=shop.browse&category_id=40 . However, in this document, the term ‘eBook’ will be used to refer only to refer to digital books that are reasonably strict emulations of medium of the printed book.

2 See the statistics at http://www.futureBook.net/content/charting-global-e-book-market-exclusive-data

3 Quoted from http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/financial-reporting/article/48646-e-book-sales-jump-in-june-print-plunges.html

EBooks also follow the traditional template of the book by being presened as a series of sequential pages placed in a specific order. This is in contrast to a website, for example, which exists as a collection of linked files with no specific prescribed reading order.

There is therefore very little apparent difference between a book and an eBook. Once the content itself has been created (be it a novel, biography, collection of poems or other written material), it may be printed on paper in the traditional manner, or produced digitally ready for transfer to an electronic reading device. In reality, publishers may sell the same books in the two media, and the electronic medium may offer them new, additional, distribution channels.

3 .The international eBook market

The rapid increase in the sale of eBooks worldwide in the last two or three years has been a remarkable phenomenon2. The eBook market in the United States of America, a market which often leads on new technological trends, increased 167% in June 2011 alone3. In 2011, Amazon, one of the largest booksellers in the world, announced that their eBook sales, for the first time ever, were greater than the sales of their printed books.

The eBook market is one where the technology is still evolving in terms of the formats used to digitizing content, its sales and distribution models, and the devices or ereaders used to enable the reading of the digital content. The situation therefore remains comparatively 5

unstable, with new formats, distribution channels and ereading software and devices being developed all the time.

EBooks may be read on a number of different devices, including ordinary PCs and laptops, smartphones, and new multipurpose devices in tablet form. However, it is likely that one of the reasons for recent increase in the popularity of eBooks has been the arrival of dedicated eBook readers, which, together with tight integration with online stores, make it easy to buy eBooks, download and read them. Lifehacker gives us a detailed picture of the relative popularity of different ereaders:


A comprehensive list of various eBook readers may be found on the mobileread website:

http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/E-book_Reader_Matrix 6

Although there are so many ereaders available, it is worth noting that apart from the two or three most popular devices the majority of these possess only a small share of the market4.

4It should be noted that there may be a number of different versions of a single device. For example, Amazon’s curent Kindle is the 4th generation of the device, and Amazon now sell several current models side by side.

4. Use of eBooks in Wales

In order to understand how the demand for Welsh eBooks and the use of eBook readers in Wales compares with the international picture, a questionnaire was drawn up for this report (see Appendix) asking Welsh readers for their use of eBooks and their attitudes towards them.

A total of 100 people were questioned in the survey, mostly on the Welsh Book Council stand at the National Eisteddfod in Wrexham in August 2011. It was found that 83% wanted to see Welsh books published in electronic form as well as on paper:

However, only 30% already posessed an eBook reader: 7

with another 40% likely to buy an ereader in the future, although 28% would only do so if Welsh eBooks were available for download:

When the 30% who already owned an eBook reader were asked what devices they owned, it confirmed the international picture of the dominance of the Kindle (14%), but multipurpose 8

devices such as the iPhone (11%), Android phones (6%), and iPad (3%) between them were more popular:

The devices owned by the respondents influence their choice of eBook stores, with Amazon (producers of the Kindle) used by 15, individual booksellers websites used by 5, iBooks used by 7, PDF files used by 11, Gwynedd Library used by 1, the Gutenberg Project used by 1, and Android Market used by 2: 9 This total is higher than the 30% who reported that they had an eBook reader since many of the respondents had more than one ereader. One respondent had 4 different devices, and another had 3 devices. 10 respondents had 2 different devices, with 5 of the 10 stating that the Kindle was one of these devices. It may be that having more than one device, and expecting to be able to transfer purchased content between different devices (see comment h. below), is a sign of a new trend that may work against the tendency of some booksellers to tie their buyers to a specific eBook reader.

Responders were given the opportunity to provide any comments they wished at the end of the questionnaire, and amongst them were the following comments (here translated from the original Welsh):

i. It seems likely that this is the way forward – and we need to move with the age!

ii. I prefer to feel a book in my hand!

iii. I'm not sure if eBooks are the way forward. As a librarian I worry about the effect this may have on reading ordinary books. Even so I spend most of my time working on computers.

iv. If developing eBooks promotes sales/how many people read Welsh – all the better.

v. An eBook reader with text to speech capabilities would be of great benefit to my mother who is partially blind.

vi. I would like to read magazines and papers on the Kindle also.

vii. I would like to see Welsh eBooks with English vocabulary included.

Date last updated: 21 Jun 2013