The Digitalist was originally conceived as an internal sounding board, discussion forum and blog for the publisher Pan Macmillan to start thinking about a range of digital issues it faced. It still is. Only now it's open for everyone to join the debate about books, publishing, the web, and the future.

the linkslist

links for 2010-07-19

links for 2010-07-06

  • It’s a vintage cliche: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” But we all do it. When we’re standing in a bookshop, surrounded by enticing three-for-two deals, we spend our money on the covers which not only look the best but will make us appear fashionably well-adjusted when they’re on our bookshelves.
    (tags: ebooks covers)

links for 2010-07-05

links for 2010-05-18

  • Verizon Wireless is working on a tablet computer with Google, according to the mobile operator's CEO, Lowell McAdam. Such a move will give Google the chance to reach Verizon customers, who outnumber those of any other US operator, and could pit Google and Verizon against the long-standing partnership between AT&T and Apple.

links for 2010-04-29

links for 2010-04-01

links for 2010-03-31

links for 2010-03-19

links for 2010-03-18

links for 2010-03-15

London – A City Through Time launches on iPad

Posted in General

We are very excited today about the launch of London – A City Through Time, an iPad app of The London Encyclopaedia, by Christopher Hibbert, Ben Weinreb, John Keay, and Julia Keay, which is the definitive book of London, published by Pan Macmillan.

The app has been developed in partnership with Heuristic Media, makers of the wonderful Cyclepedia and Monty Python Bytes apps. They have been the perfect partners for this project, bringing boundless energy and an extraordinary array of complementary content to the project. They also have a gift for creating attractive, usable, absorbing, entertaining apps.

The iPad brings the opportunity to not just repackage reference as entertainment but to truly change the experience of a work like The London Encyclopaedia and bring it to an entirely new audience. Our strategy with apps is to only do them where there is an opportunity to create a new reader experience and truly fit the work to the medium. Simple adaptations are not sufficient. London – A City Through Time was conceived as a multi-layered, multimedia experience of the history of London, from its beginning to today, with The London Encyclopaedia as the core upon which the whole is built.

For a few years the buzzword in digital publishing was ‘convergence’ and this was used to talk about our expectations for reading devices. Device convergence has happened but content is still largely in silos – ebooks, music, games, film etc. What we are seeing now is content convergence. London – A City Through Time is a new kind of book, drawing together a multitude of content across time and media, to give you a single, coherent, enthralling experience of the greatest city on earth.

The app includes the full text of The London Encyclopaedia with almost 6000 entries covering every street, square, building, person and event of interest in over 2000 years of London history. London – A City Through Time takes this seminal encyclopaedia to a new level with maps, a wealth of imagery, interactive timelines and a My London section.

Heuristic’s user experience design for the app is key, enabling you to read the 6000 entry encyclopaedia by following your interest more fluidly than you could in print, flipping back and forth between text and index. Instead you read, look, tap, watch, listen and explore – it’s immersive but directed by the reader.

Our thanks and congratulations go to Toby, Richard, Simon and Patrick at Heuristic – we first talked about this app in 2010, and it’s even more delightful now in reality than it was when we just imagined it.

London – A City Through Time will provide a fascinating insight into one of the world’s greatest cities with appeal for Londoners and visitors alike. Key features include:

Lavish imagery

  • 2000 still images including works of art, portraits, etchings and watercolours, rare colour stills of London during the Second World War, early Victorian photographs and paintings and etchings of streets and iconic buildings – many of which have remained unseen, now unearthed by the Heuristic team.
  • Spinning shots of 20 Museum of London artefacts, including objects not on public display. Users can view them from all angles and get closer than in the Museum itself.
  • 40 detailed, zoom-able maps and panoramas of London from the Tudor period to the present day.
  • 71 x high-definition 360? panoramas of London controlled by the iPad gyroscopes give a three-dimensional window onto the streets and buildings of the capital.
  • Original British Pathé News footage reveals the wonderful period atmosphere that only movies can give.
  • Detailed computer-generated reconstructions of iconic London buildings that can be spun and explored from all sides.


  • Dynamic timelines enable users to scroll through history visually, running through centuries, dates, periods, events and reigns of England’s monarchs from the Roman invasion to the present day. An intriguing shortcut to understanding London’s legacy, giving users a compelling overview of the city’s historical thrust through its times, trials and tribulations marked by the crowning of kings and queens; their rise, their fall and for some a grim execution.


  • Users in London can find out what’s nearby using the iPad GPS, or have fun exploring manually through any of the older maps. And for those not in London pins on the maps are categorised allowing users to quickly identify the different places of interest. Maps can also be explored by period to show how London expanded and changed throughout its history. They can also search and filter the entries to reveal only what they want to find whether churches, bridges monuments or murders. And passengers on the London Underground will be able to explore history by tube stop. As passengers travel through the famous stations deep below London’s streets – Temple, Waterloo, Embankment, Notting Hill, Piccadilly, Bank and many others – there will be able to see nearby locations of interest pinpointed.

My London

  • Already putting their names to the face of London are best-selling novelists (Jeffrey Archer), comedians and writers (the Gentle Author and Michael Palin), film stars (Renée Zellweger) and musicians (Michael Nyman). Each has pinpointed a place in London they love. Users can do the same: upload a location that has special memories and your name and the special spot could join the growing list of contributors.

Audio Tours

  • Included are three interesting and varied audio tours of London from the Blue Badge Tourist Guides: noted authority on London. Each stop on a tour is shown on the map and while users listen to the audio description they can explore the area with the 360? panoramas of the exact spot. Or if a user wishes to walk the tour simply follow the directions on the map and listen to the tour as they walk the streets.

London - A City Through Time

Response to Tor DRM-free announcement

Posted in eBooks, General

Last week Tor Books announced that it would be going DRM-free on all its ebooks over the next three months. This means that the technology which controls the use of content will be removed. For Tor authors, who are generally a tech-savvy bunch, there is a strong sense that DRM inhibits committed fans using legitimately-purchased ebooks in perfectly legal ways, like moving them from one kind of e-reader to another. For readers, DRM can be seen as an irritant which makes ebooks less portable and flexible than printed books.

Already, the announcement has received extensive coverage. Here’s a selection of reactions from journalists, authors and the blogosphere that have flooded the internet in the past week.

According to Alison Flood in the Guardian, Tor has “[ripped] up the rulebook”, an action strongly supported by authors, readers and agents alike.

The BBC featured a long article with arguments from both sides on the day the news was announced, drawing links with the music industry’s experience of the transition and highlighting that “the key difference with the music business is that the book trade can see what mistakes the record labels made and avoid them.”

Authors are behind the move too, with Paul Cornell, whose book London Falling is out later this year, tweeting about the imminent availability of his books in DRM-free.

Legends of the Red Sun author Mark Charan Newton declared on his blog that he “opted in right away” for DRM-free. Gary Gibson tweeted: “Best news I’ve heard all day.” Jay Kristoff, whose debut novel Stormdancer will be published by Tor in September, called it “a visionary and dramatic step…  a victory for consumers, and a red-letter day in the history of publishing.”

Long-time anti-DRM author and blogger Cory Doctorow praised the decision on the Guardian Technology Blog and on boingboing, the blog he co-edits: “I think that this might be the watershed for ebook DRM, the turning point that marks the moment at which all ebooks end up DRM-free. It’s a good day.” For a lengthier article on the wider impact of the transition to DRM-free, have a look at Charlie Stross’s blog. He has been following the debate since its early stages.

Feedback from readers has been overwhelmingly positive: Peter F. Hamilton announced the news to his fans on his Facebook page and received 422 likes within the first twenty-four hours. One reader commented on that “DRM is anti-customer”. You can read more responses on the site here and on Tor’s Twitter feed, @UKTor.

Tor UK ebook titles to go DRM-free

Posted in General

Press Release
London, Wednesday 25th April 2012

Tor UK, Pan Macmillan’s science fiction and fantasy imprint, announces today that it will make its ebooks DRM-free over the next three months.

“We know that this is what many Tor authors passionately want. We also understand that readers in this community feel strongly about this,” says Jeremy Trevathan, Pan Macmillan’s Fiction Publisher.

This decision has been made in partnership with our sister company Tor Books, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, in New York. We are consulting with our authors at the moment and we will announce our plans in more detail in due course.

About Tor UK

Tor UK is a Pan Macmillan imprint specialising in science fiction, fantasy and horror. We also publish YA crossover fiction and novels based on internationally bestselling computer games franchises. Our team is fully committed to bringing the best imaginative fiction, in its many forms, to the reading community’s bookshelves and eReaders. More news and views from Tor can be found on twitter and

For further information, please contact Chloe Healy in the Tor UK press office:

Phone: 00 44 20 7014 6186


Also posted on our Tor Books Blog.

What the UK can still learn from US publishers

Posted in eBooks, Publishing

Sales data suggests that the UK is now closing the gap with the US on the ebook market, but it’s still with interest that we look to how US publishers are looking to reach readers in the new digital era – what methodologies are working for them – and what appears to be on the decline.

Book^2 (pronounced “Book Squared”) Camp is a free series of meetings which take place in downtown New York City and aims to collect ‘the brightest minds in Publishing and Technology (to) discuss and problem-solve what the next incarnation of the book will be.’

Following immediately after this classic ‘unconference’ format came O’Reilly’s Tools of Change conference. There were several themes which ran across both events last month.

Developing direct-to-consumer audiences:

At a session at TOC, Liz Edelstein (Macmillan US, Heroes & Heartbreakers), Colleen Lindsay (Book Country) and Jacob Lewis (Figment) spoke about how they have been building online reader and writer communities.

The key to building reader and writer audiences online appears to be in ensuring that the sites look like they are publisher neutral. Both Penguin US (Book Country) and Macmillan (Hereos and Heartbreakers) described their sites as ‘publisher agnostic’ in a bid to widen their audience as far as possible.

Regular audience analysis also seems to be key in developing communities. Edelstein explained that her morning begins by analyzing through Google analytics which articles have generated the most traffic, where audience has engaged the most, and so on. Lindsay echoed this explaining that they were using the real-time web analytics tool Omniture. Interestingly Edelstein explained that not only were they watching their own audience but also the genre (in this case ‘romance’), with one person dedicated to simply checking where the genre was being mentioned in any social media channels.

When asked by an audience member what the aim was in terms of building these audiences, Edelstein explains, “The end goal is to get as many emails as possible.” By collating email lists they can then market directly to these readers, though Edelstein was quick to underline that their emails are never the hard-sell and they try to create a gentle, non-salesy approach.

Edelstein also suggested social media should only be used to casually engage audiences and never in order to sell/market directly.  It was also stressed that while interns and graduates can pick up social media skills quickly and easily, that if trying to create an online community you must invest in expertise in the genre – explaining that the marketeer with 10 years genre experience should be a key team player.

Given that the Heroes and Heartbreakers audience has gone from 0 – 90,000 unique users per calendar month in a year, the strategy for building the community certainly seems to be working.

An effective feedback loop:

At Book 2, a session led by Kristen McLean, Founder & CEO, Bookigee, Inc., was called Magic 8 Ball and centered on “what are the questions we have about our market and audience that we don’t yet have answers for”.

In a long conversation which regularly threw up the words ‘D2C, feedback loop, and audience insight’, a US book rep with many years experience conveyed that in all the talk around data analysis that publishers had forgotten about a very effective D2C feedback loop – retailers and librarians – who scattered across the US were very effective communicators on what readers really wanted. Other attendees agreed with this important point but accepted there needed to be an effective way in which to feed this information back to publishers.

A period of less experimentation:

One of the noticeable things about both Book2Camp and the Tools of Change conference was how little experimentation was being mentioned.  Guy LeCharles Gonzales, summed this up in this takeaway of Book 2:

“Stop trying to recreate the wheel; stop trying to build things for which there is no demand; and please stop trying to force “social” into the reading experience!”

Similarly at TOC, experimentation wasn’t mentioned nearly as much as in previous years and it felt as though publishers were consolidating their efforts around audience development for print and ebooks, and content discovery. Social reading appears to already have been pronounced over (perhaps rather prematurely).

The Infinite Canvas

Peter Meyers speaking at TOC gave a very interesting talk on “the infinite canvas”. He explains:

“When I started chewing on this topic, my thoughts centered on a very literal vision: a super-ginormous sheet for authors to compose on. And while I think there’s some great creative territory to explore in this notion of space spanning endlessly up, down, left, and right, I also think there are a bunch of other ways to define what an infinite canvas is. Not simply a huge piece of virtual paper, but instead an elastic space that does things no print surface could do, no matter how big it is.”

In illustrating some ways of thinking about the infinite canvas, Meyers uses the London Unfurled for iPad as a good example with its hand-illustrated pair of 37-foot long drawings of every building on the River Thames between Hammersmith Bridge and Millennium Dome.

Since the Wall Street Crash the experiences of our friends across the Atlantic have always been scrutinised since whatever happens in the US seems to have a domino effect on Europe – as economists at that time put it, ‘when America sneezes, Europe catches the cold.’ We still look to the US to see what is, and what is not, working for them in the hope that we can learn from their successes and mistakes.

Momentum launches

Posted in General

Momentum logoPan Macmillan Australia has today launched a new digital-only imprint, Momentum. (Read the press release.)

The launch list looks fantastic and many congratulations to the team, especially Joel Naoum who is leading Momentum and is very close to our hearts as he helped us setup and launch our own Bello digital imprint when he was in the UK last year.

Rediscovering lost classics thanks to ebooks

Posted in eBooks, General, Publishing

Jonathan Franzen spoke this week about the detrimental effect ebooks have on the world, claiming that serious readers will always prefer print editions and that ebooks are ‘not permanent enough’. Quoted in the Telegraph, Franzen said:

“The Great Gatsby was last updated in 1924. You don’t need it to be refreshed, do you?

“Maybe nobody will care about printed books 50 years from now, but I do. When I read a book, I’m handling a specific object in a specific time and place. The fact that when I take the book off the shelf it still says the same thing – that’s reassuring.

“Someone worked really hard to make the language just right, just the way they wanted it. They were so sure of it that they printed it in ink, on paper. A screen always feels like we could delete that, change that, move it around. So for a literature-crazed person like me, it’s just not permanent enough.”

Here at Bello, we agree with the sentiment that authors ‘worked really hard to make the language just right,’ and the ability to publish in ebook format is ironically enabling us to bring some fantastic books back into print.  Without the rise of ebooks in the last few years, it would be much more difficult for authors like Pamela Hansford Johnson, Vita Sackville-West and Andrew Garve – to name just three – to be rediscovered and enjoyed.  The same hard work went into publishing these books as did The Great Gatsby, and we’re committed to preserving that legacy for the future – retaining the text as published originally, just changing the format a little to suit the digital age.

Other Bello authors include Gerald Durrell, Francis Durbridge, Josephine Bell, R. C. Sherriff, Gillian Tindall and David Williams, with many more lost classics to follow throughout 2012.

Pan Macmillan launches first phase of new website

Posted in General

Pan Macmillan has launched today its new website – – designed for consumers, trade and the media.

The new site at delivers a web infrastructure on which to build and develop a growing range of direct-to-consumer platforms to support Pan Macmillan’s established and evolving brands, including and

The website was designed by design agency Root, selected after a four-way pitch for their original and striking design. MMT Digital was selected after a five-way pitch for the technical build.

A content-rich Home Page enables visitors to find out about new titles, featured authors and books, with carousel Showcase, Brand New and Featured bars which spin and highlight particular themes and subjects guiding readers to relevant books and authors.

A stand-alone Children’s Home Page takes visitors directly on a journey through Macmillan’s wide range of bestselling children’s titles.

News and Events pages with regular updates about author readings and events, and a host of other Pan Macmillan-related activity, take visitors straight through to comment and trailers.

A range of subject pages such as ‘Crime & Thrillers‘, ‘Women’s Fiction’ and ‘Science Fiction’, drive visitors to other content and titles around the site. A new “Books You Might Like” feature encourages readers to explore new authors. The site is e-commerce enabled but also features links to a range of retailers.

Sara Lloyd, Digital Director, Pan Macmillan said today:

We’re delighted to launch this important first phase of the new We’ve created a hub for our authors, readers and trade customers. We wanted to demonstrate our passion for our authors and titles, and create an environment where readers can find the best information and conversation about our books and authors. The site will act as a place for readers and writers to come together to talk about books when we introduce additional social features into the next phase, and it also delivers us a modular toolkit for quickly developing a dedicated web presence for any campaign or author.

For trade and media, there is a comprehensive “one stop shop” section, offering sophisticated online resources for sales customers, media and rights’ buyers. In this section customers and media can view book pages for forthcoming titles and high resolution book jackets, download book catalogues, order forms, translation and rights’ guides, check rights’ availability for specific titles and, if registered for a bookseller account, access advance information sheets.

Pan Macmillan launches new ebook bundles and second round of digital-only Short Reads featuring Peter James and Emma Donoghue

Posted in General

Pan Macmillan today published its first ebook bundles (collections of 2 or 3 titles in a single ebook) and a second collection of ebook Short Reads for 2011’s digital Christmas.

The ebook bundles will sell from between £13.99 and £15.99 and include books by bestselling writers Ken Follett, Jon Ronson, Sue Grafton and Andrew Marr.
Ken Follett’s Thundering Good Thrillers feature three classic spy thrillers from the master stortyteller, Eye of the Needle, Jackdaws and Hornet Flight.

A History of 20th Century Britain bundles together for the first time Andrew Marr’s two bestselling volumes, A History of Modern Britain and The Making of Modern Britain.

Jon Ronson’s Adventures with Extraordinary People includes The Pyschopath Test, published earlier this year.

Sue Grafton’s new novel, V Is For Vengeance, has also been published early in ebook to meet the demand over Christmas, with the hardback out in January.

The full list is of ebook bundles is:

Andrew Marr A History of 20th Century Britain A History of Modern Britain, The Making of Modern Britain
Jon Ronson Jon Ronson’s Adventures With Extraordinary People Them: Adventures with Extremists, Men Who Stare at Goats, The Psychopath Test
Ken Follett Ken Follett’s Thundering Good Thrillers Eye of the Needle, Hornet Flight, Jackdaws
Sue Grafton Kinsey Millhone: First Three Novels A is for Alibi, B is for Burglar, C is for Corpse
Alyson Noel The Immortals 1–3 Evermore, Blue Moon, Shadowland
Andrea Camilleri The Montalbano Mysteries: Three crime novels of Sicily The Shape of Water, The Terracotta Dog, The Snack Thief

Short Reads, which were first launched for Christmas 2010, are designed to be eye-catching titles at a low price that enable new ebook device owners to sample some of the best Pan Mac writers when they are hunting around for something to read on Boxing Day.

The 2011 list, with each ebook retailing at 99p, comprises three new titles from three bestselling Pan Macmillan writers – Christmas is for the Kids by Peter James (who has already had huge success with The Perfect Murder ebook, which was in the Top 10 chart in iBooks for much of 2010 and has been in the Top 100 consistently since), Three and a Half Deaths by Emma Donoghue and Bedlam by Andrew Lane. Also now available as Short Reads are Minette Walters’ Chickenfeed, Neal Asher’s Snow in the Desert and Water from the Sun and Discovering Japan by Bret Easton Ellis.

James Long, Pan Macmillan’s Editorial Director, Digital, says,

“We’re delighted with our line- up of digital-first products for the big Christmas ebook rush – they look great and offer something exciting and good value to everyone who is looking for something to read on their new device. We are committed to finding the best way to package ebooks both for readers new to ebooks, with our Short Reads, and for dedicated ebook readers, with our bundles.”

Gerald Durrell and Vita Sackville-West for a new generation Bello, Pan Macmillan’s new digital imprint, launches today

Posted in General

Today, Friday 16 December, Pan Macmillan publishes the first twenty titles from its new digital imprint Bello, reviving 20th century classics for a 21st century audience. All launch books are drawn from the prestigious backlist of the Curtis Brown Literary and Talent Agency.

Featured in the launch e-book list are 10 titles by one of the country’s best-loved naturalists, Gerald Durrell, whose stories about his globetrotting adventures with animals have enchanted generations of children and adults. Amongst the titles are much-loved favourites such as Beasts in my Belfry, Catch Me a Colobus and The Drunken Forest as well as Ark on the Move, which inspired a television series which was broadcast around the world and brought Durrell’s pioneering rescue and breeding programmes with the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust to international attention.

Also in the launch list are five titles by poet, novelist and gardener, Vita Sackville-West. 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the author’s death, and sees Macmillan’s Bello imprint revive her critically-acclaimed first novel, Heritage; two novellas, Seducers in Ecuador and The Heir; a novel, Family History, a wonderful evocation of the complexity of 1930s high society mores and values; and The Eagle and The Dove, a biography, long regarded as a classic, of Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

A crime novel from behind the Iron Curtain by Andrew Garve, Murder in Moscow is also available in ebook format from today, along with three novels from the prolific writer (and wife of CP Snow), Pamela Hansford Johnson (the centenary of whose birth is 2012), and Madensky Square, a rare novel for adults from children’s author, Eva Ibbotson.

Lee Durrell, Gerald Durrell’s widow and Honorary Director of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, says:

”I am utterly delighted at this development. Everybody has been asking me when Gerry’s backlist is going digital, and it’s great that this is now happening.”

Sara Lloyd at Pan Macmillan says:

“It’s a pleasure to be able to republish some great writers of earlier generations and to introduce them to modern audiences in 21st century style.”

The publication of these titles in ebook format is against the backdrop of a massive expansion in the market for ebooks. Pan Macmillan expects their ebook sales to have more than tripled in 2011 compared to 2010.

Bello has been launched in partnership with Curtis Brown, one of Europe’s largest and most prestigious literary agencies. The imprint is designed to bring long out of print books by iconic authors to a new readership in the 21st century, and more than 500 more titles will be made available in ebook format during the next twelve months.

Bello will also make all titles available in Print on Demand (POD) editions.

Forthcoming titles to be published in the Bello imprint next year include books by Francis Durbridge, author of classic detective fiction; novelist and critic D J Taylor, who featured on this year’s Man Booker Prize long list; and a revival of the fiction of Gillian Tindall, now acclaimed for her miniaturist histories.

Dear Zoo for iPad

Posted in General

Dear Zoo for iPad is now available on the App Store. Open the crates from the zoo and find a TALL giraffe, a very FIERCE lion, an extremely NAUGHTY monkey – and much more. Call out the animal names and noises and discover the touch-activated animations. Fun for the whole family, the Dear Zoo App for iPad is perfect for cuddling up with and sharing again and again. What will the zoo send you?

Dear Zoo for iPad features the classic story, plus:

    Lively animation that responds to your child’s touch.
    Two ways to enjoy the app: “Read the book” or “Read to me”.
    “Read to Me” audio narrated by the award-winning actress Caroline Quentin.
    Simple, accessible and suitable for even the littlest iPad user.
    New artwork, drawn especially by Rod Campbell.
    Picking Pairs game: simple, educational and fun.
    Suitable for children aged 18 months and up.

Sara Lloyd, Digital Director said:

We are thrilled our first app is a version of the best selling, iconic Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell. For us an app always has to deliver something very special to justify its app-worthiness. Here we’ve developed a digital version of the lift-the-flap experience but we’ve also delivered so much more than that, with entertaining animations, a game and exclusive new artwork from Rod himself, as well as synched audio from Caroline Quentin. Plus, the app is launching ahead of a year of celebrations for the 30th Anniversary of Dear Zoo, bringing it to a whole new generation of readers in a charming new way.

The Dear Zoo App is available from the App Store.

Rod Campbell, the author of Dear Zoo, has been writing and illustrating children’s books for over thirty years. Best known for Dear Zoo, he is also the creator of the much-loved preschool character Buster. Ingeniously simple, with touches of gentle humour, Rod’s books are loved all over the world by children, parents and teachers alike.

Macmillan Children’s Books is one of the UK’s leading children’s publishers. A division of Pan Macmillan, Macmillan Children’s Books publishes over 300 books a year for all age groups. MCB has a strong track-record for developing internationally successful brands, such as: The Gruffalo, Poppy Cat, The Immortals, The Princess Diaries and, of course, Dear Zoo which will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2012.

The app was produced by ETV Online, the digital arm of ETV Media Group, one of the UK’s leading independent digital media companies. ETV Online designs and develops interactive apps across web, mobile and social platforms, creating beautiful and engaging experiences for brands, broadcasters and license owners. Clients include MTV, Ofsted, London Business School, Westfield Shopping Centres, Smiths Medical and of course, Macmillan Children’s Books.