Makinson: "the definition of the book is up for grabs"

<p>Penguin Group chairman and c.e.o. John Makinson has said the Apple iPad will allow the publisher to embed &quot;audio, video and gaming&quot;, describing the definition of the book as &quot;up for grabs&quot;. </p><p>Speaking at the <em>Financial Times</em>&#39; Digital Media &amp; Broadcasting Conference in London on Tuesday [2nd March], Makinson demonstrated how the iPad could be used for Penguin titles. He mainly stuck to children&#39;s books and non-fiction. Demonstrating titles such as <em>Spot the Dog</em> and DK&#39;s <em>The Concise Human Body</em>, Makinson showed the audience how the iPad&#39;s touchscreen and video capabilities could be used. With <em>The Concise Human Body</em>, a reader could zoom into specific organs as well as watch video. Travel was &quot;an obvious application for mobile devices&quot;, with the ability to create your own itinerary on a DK title.</p><p>He told delegates that because of the iPad&#39;s capabilities, it would have to create a lot of its digital content as applications rather than in ePub, which is designed for narrative text.</p><p>He said: &quot;The definition of the book itself, as far as we can see, is up for grabs. We don&#39;t understand at the moment what the consumer is prepared to pay for them. We have opportunities to do more product marketing, by including a sales message at the end of every e-book for example.&quot;</p><p>He suggested author video introductions could work but only on a title by title basis, noting that while people may want to watch an introduction by Anthony Beevor, they may not be as keen watching John Makinson. He said: &quot;We&#39;ll only find answers to these questions by trial and error by taking a dynamic approach to consumer pricing and improving our data analysis as we go.&quot;</p><p>Makinson argued the publisher will become more relevant, not less, in the digital age. He said: &quot;We&#39;ll have to be religious about some key issues; the indivisibility of physical and digital rights for example. We will need to develop new skills in data analytics and consumer facing technologies will need to become more fluent with new media, new formats and content platforms. We will have to be innovative and take some risks. </p><p>&quot;We&#39;ll need above all to listen to our readers and understand what they want and what they will pay for. If we can do all that, which is a big ask I agree, we will have a great and growing digital business.&quot;</p>