updated 10:30 am EST, Fri December 4, 2009
Skiff to offer multi-platform digital publishing
Hearst today provided details of a new digital publishing system it hopes will make digital text more widespread. Skiff will have a store as well as an underlying gateway that lets Hearst and other firms both collect ad revenue from all their sources as well as adapt the same book, magazine or newspaper to a variety of formats. A single work could be reformatted to work with an iPhone, dedicated e-book readers or even tablet devices.
The service is intended to bring back control of publications to those that create them. At present, publishers are often forced to separately develop for existing formats and give up much of their control to device makers or stores that can dictate the terms for pricing. While stores like iTunes are comparatively mild and collect a fixed 30 percent of revenue from each item sold on the store, Amazon can ask for as much as 70 percent of the revenue from a Kindle subscription without giving the option of ads to help subsidize the price.
Hearst has added that it plans to launch its own e-book reader with Skiff in mind and will use Sprint to power the device's 3G connection. The service and likely the reader itself aren't due until 2010, but rumors claim Hearst, Condé Nast, Meredith and Time will unveil an independent standard for formats and stores next week. [via WSJ]