And while this isn’t the very first combined effort of book publishing and media companies (examples — Simon & Schuster, owned by CBS; Hyperion, owned by Disney; Harper Collins, owned by News Corp.), other large media companies are most certainly going to be paying close attention to NBC’s ebook venture.
Wired (“NBC Publishing Wants to Prove a TV Company Can Make Better E-Books“) has a particularly excellent discussion on what all this might mean. And as Wired does well to point out, there are a number of factors in NBC’s favor that could make the move into digital publishing a savvy move —
Content:Â With an emphasis on NBC news content,Â it’s not hard to imagine how current news footage could be “reverse-engineered” into ebook-type publications. Not to mention, NBC has about 90 something years worth of archival footage to choose from:
â€œwe have incredible material sitting on the shelf that nobody seesâ€ â€” events, interviews, outtakes, everything that was ever caught on camera for NBCâ€™s news, sports, or entertainment division, whether it ever aired or not.”Â
Talent and resources:Â What NBC might lack in book industry experience, it could more than make up for in terms of resources, which are considerable —
“resources from throughout all of NBC Universal. Universal Films, NBC Entertainment, Bravo, Sci-Fi or USA talent could all contribute to stories; in turn, book projects could be developed to align with projects elsewhereÂ …Â NBC knows how to work with video. They have experienced editing and production talent and dedicated production facilities. â€œFor us, itâ€™s sunk cost,â€ says Fabiano. â€œA traditional publisher has to build or purchase that capability.â€ Or outsource it to someone else â€” either way, itâ€™s generally more difficult for them to scale up”
Copyright management:Â Copyright doesn’t get mentioned all that much in your usual ebooks articles, but it’s really, really important:
“Multimedia books bring new experiences to readers, but new challenges to publishers â€” like clearing rights to audio and video clips. Forget uploading something to YouTube â€” imagine the copyright headaches that will happen when amateur authors start embedding videos in their iBooks, by the thousands â€” and then trying to sell them in Appleâ€™s store.”
In addition, Engadget (“NBC News grows a digital publishing arm, plans 30 titles for 2012“) could envision NBC ebooks taking a Kindle Singles-like approach:
Â “Under the company’s newly minted NBC Publishing imprint, coverage related to current events, docs and bios, in addition to content culled from otherÂ NBC UniversalÂ divisions, will get a second life as either digital singles (think: longer than an article, shorter than a few chapters) or straight-up eBooks, with about 30 titles slated for this year.”
“While NBC may seem like an unlikely new player in e-books, it has co-published several enhanced e-book editions in the past year, includingÂ JFK: 50 DaysÂ and a 30th anniversary edition ofÂ Roots, both joint projects with the Perseus Books Group; andÂ D-Day: The Battle for NormandyÂ andÂ Berlin 1961, both in partnership with Penguin.”Â
To get a sense of what NBC ebooks might look like, here’s theÂ JFK: 50 Days, enhanced ebook.