March 19 2018
Just in time for the Book Fair, sgrol.io launched a platform dedicated to “seamless reading”, “Reader Analytics” and “Micro Content”. In the following you will find a conversation with Konstantin Diener, CTO, about digital business models, DRM and reading across all devices.
Digital Publishing Report: sgrol.io - how did you come up with such a product name? And what kind of product is behind it?
Konstantin Diener: The product team sat together to find a name for the product. First we decided that it should be an art name. In the following brainstorming we collected words, that are related to reading and then we translated these words into different languages. The Welsh word “sgrolio” for “to scroll” was our favourite. The product is a modern IT-solution and with the transformation into sgrol.io we had a modern name with a modern web address.
You say sgrol.io stands for “seamless” and “secure”. What are the differences to established applications offered by amazon with its reader and its apps?
First of all I would like to talk about the world beyond the big players Amazon, Google and Apple. Here, in our opinion, platforms for eBooks are either safe or have an appealing user experience – especially on the desktop. We found some nice browser solutions, but security is never their main focus. To deliver content safely the user needs to install a client-software.
Others might say: “Who wants to read on a desktop or directly in the browser?” We have (at least) two answers: For one, the trend is clearly towards “mobile first!“. Mobile users don’t want to install an App for reading text on their smartphones. And in the sector of textbooks a lot is read on the desktop computer. Software developers and marketing experts want to experience the things they read directly. Reading a textbook with sample of text or something similar, I want it to be open while I am writing e.g. a draft of a contract.
Therefore, an appealing user experience and the possibility to read in a browser are important to the users. But you only get content from publishers if you can prove a certain security standard. This security is reached by eBook streaming. The browser only uses a small part of the text, which is displayed. This makes it harder to withdraw content. That’s how we combine a great user experience with security, without using hard DRM.
Our product vision goes even one step further. For us “seamless eReading” does not only mean that the reader can read on any device, but also can switch between smartphone, tablet and desktop computer anytime. The reading position, the bookmarks and settings are synchronized accordingly. So as a reader, for example, sitting on the couch in the evening I could prepare my meeting for the next day using my tablet and set the required bookmarks on particularly interesting parts. Then on my way to work I could read those passages again on my smartphone and add some or change them. During the meeting I could show the marked passages through my Laptop on the projector.
But back to the second part of your question. Amazon, Google & Co have platforms like sgrol.io. Those platforms are not accessible to third parties as Whitelabel solution. That’s the difference to sgrol.io.
For a long time, DRM has been a fiercely debated topic in the publishing industry - has it calmed down now and everybody deviates from the hard DRM or what is the current situation?
There are still a lot of discussions about the topic DRM. In the past we are repeatedly addressed on the subject of DRM, especially in the textbook sector, where content is correspondingly expensive.
However, we believe, that the possibilities of “secure reading in the browser” go far beyond the classical DRM discussions. There are so many new possibilities…
What are possible new business models for publishers using sgrol.io?
We chop the content for the delivery in small parts. This aspect already creates new approaches. For example readers can buy individual chapters or pay for read pages.
With sgrol.io content is getting more dynamic. This allows the platform, for example, to display advertisement, which is tailored to the reader or to provide feedback towards the author or the platform. This is especially interesting for advertising-supported platforms.
Last but not least, sgrol.io offers Reader Analytics. That’s how my business model can be continuously developed in a data-driven way.
At the Book Fair we will present the first version of sgrol.io and would like to get feedback from the experts. The focus of this first version is clearly on the topics “Reading in Browser”, “seamless integration between mobile and desktop” and “Reader Analytics”. Later, we will offer sgrol.io as a SaaS-Solution, which our customers can integrate into their solution and customize it accordingly.
About the topic “Reader Analytics” - which data is being analyzed and what for?
So far, in publishing we mainly have data about the buyer and the purchase process, but we know little about the reader and the reading process. Nobody knows, if a bestseller is only being bought, but does the reader read it completely. Or do 80% of the readers stop reading after 30 pages, because they are bored. Till now, we don’t know if a book is being read for bedtime reading, on vacation or on the go. Or are the chapters too long?
The purchase of individual chapters and other possibilities within sgrol.io, using Reader Analytics gives the publisher or the platform the opportunity to continuously measure and adjust their business models or publications. In the Self-publishing sector considerations like “What did the reader like or what didn’t he like?”, “Is the book cut into bite-sized pieces?”, etc. are already part of everyday life. Using sgrol.io publishers can use these mechanisms outside the self-publishing area.
Who is behind sgrol.io?
Organizationally sgrol.io is powered by cosee GmbH (https://cosee.biz) from Darmstadt. cosee is a spin-off from the Fraunhofer Institute for secure Information technology from Darmstadt, Germany. Since 2009 we work intensively with delivery and security of digital media like images, eBooks, music, audiobooks and videos.
The product team has seven team members, consisting of software-developers, marketing colleagues and myself as the product owner.
At the Frankfurt Book Fair we will be present with a booth (D 83) at the Hot Spot Digital Innovation in Hall 6.2. There you can relax in a deckchair, inform yourself about the product refreshing yourself with some delicious ice-cream and pick-up a surprise. We will have several live presentations of sgrol.io on different stages from Wednesday to Friday. Right in time for the Book Fair we will publish our whitepaper with business model concepts for publishing on sgrol.io.
This interview was published in the Digital Publishing Report in German.
© cosee 2018