18(b) How do you expect that your proposed gTLD will benefit registrants, Internet users, and others?
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Since its inception, the webʹs dramatic growth has been demanding new solutions to problems of information organization and discovery. Information growth and the need to categorize and label it all has fueled growth in the proliferation of monographs, blogs, research sites, dissertations, mobile apps, audio books and other manifestations of once traditional book material. At its core, the internet is about democratizing the production of, and access to, this information; but book discovery has yet to be sufficiently advanced by this axiom.
In 2006, the amount of digital information created was 161 Exabytes – about 3 million times the information in all books ever written. The production of new information is still growing at an annual rate of 66% per year, and is accelerating. The internet has the potential to link together a growing percentage of the worldʹs book publishing output in a single networked corpus, on the only global platform capable of expanding at the worldʹs pace of production. .book domains will accelerate the creation of a vibrant and competitive market by placing product innovation and transparency in the hands of any registrant who can put up a secure website and any Internet user with the ability to access one.
The book is still the worldʹs oldest communication medium. And just as the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440 marks the entry of the book into the industrial age, the information age is ushering in a new transition from a print to a digital publishing model. But global consumer interests are not yet fully served as the industry undergoes this transformation. Most citizens in many of the 160 countries that have adopted the ISBN have never even seen or read an e-book. Psychological research affirms the positive motivational consequences of having personal choice. But a persistently inefficient supply chain model has only served to limit consumer choice in recent years as more physical bookstores disappear and distribution consolidates into a small handful of players.
Books have a great deal of catching up to do in leveraging the power of the internet. Formats, prices, branding and business models are still not freely induced by consumer choice and increased competition but rather by the business models of powerful leaders in the space. By way of example, consumers are now being told their days of fondly collecting books are over. ʺElectronic book and music distributors are stripping away the entire idea of ownershipʺ in favor of the rental model, according to author and law professor Jason Mazzone. Exacerbating this dynamic is the fact that consumer electronics gadgets have a short lifespan due to planned obsolescence. E-book readers, mobile phones and tablet devices can only be expected to last a few years before the battery or hardware fail.
Moreover, the future of reading is being held hostage in a format ʹstandards warʹ over versions of proprietary technologies with little regard for a consumerʹs need to collect and preserve their purchases as formats and standards evolve. Today the consumer can have little confidence that a small elite group of leading e-reader distribution providers, in competition with one another, will work together to make cross-platform accessibility feasible in the near term.
The issue of who controls book content distribution is likely to only become more controversial as the cloud makes it possible to store, sync and share content from any device any time. The television and movie industries are attempting to shift their business models from ownership to rental. Consumers want access and the ability to share. But many want to do so without giving up control of their personalized images, videos and documents.
According to Kevin Kelly, books will not be owned but rather accessed, ʺstreamed in paid subscription services; youʹll just ʹborrowʹ what you want.ʺ But many consumers are no more concerned about these objects taking up space on their hard drives than they were about books, movies and photos taking up space on their shelves. The digitizing of information has opened up a great number of possibilities but book consumers must also be concerned that minimal competition and lack of consumer choice will result in a day when they no longer have access to knowledge, but only access to access.
New .book gTLDs are being introduced to aid publishers in marketing titles directly to consumers, and to enable consumers to intuitively self-engage in the discovery of books that most appeal to their unique interests. Consumers would then immediately fulfill that purchase from the same browser if the publisher or self-published author chooses to enable that capability. New .book gTLDs will permit writers and authors to be more assertive and experimental in fostering direct relationships with readers and buyers by marketing titles to them in a language syntax these customers can comprehend, recollect and return to with ease. The act of purchasing books on .book domains affords the consumer choice and advantage, and publishers the potential for a more efficient distribution model where they preserve control over their content, and without the need to become experts in any technology more complicated than what is used to power their own e-commerce websites.
Consumers are increasingly preconditioned to the notion that information is finding its permanent home on the internet. As such, many buyers engaging in these online models in other retail segments are realizing numerous advantages such as price transparency, increased choice, discounting, reviews, friend recommendations, home delivery and the holy grail of e-commerce: infinite categorization. But micro-market segmentation has not been an affordable alternative for many book publishers. Many are hindered by the mass market economics of print publishing where demand is often required to be projected in advance. As a result, the user experience for most book buyers typing in basic terms into a search engine has not yet been optimized in a manner that transparently surfaces every relevant book available.
The existence of .book domains names will enable innovative solutions for enhanced discoverability and new aggregation strategies around micro-markets of potentially thousands of small niche subject categories, definable in natural language syntax. Consumers are already demonstrating a propensity for self-direction in seeking information on the web. Consumers conditioned through the ease of using natural language terms will be empowered to more successfully discover books that harmonize with their spontaneous interests. Consumers cannot easily find these segments on their own today by typing in natural language search terms. Publishers and authors are not encouraged to select narrow niches when profitability barriers are so high. Niche markets address special interests that have heretofore been underserved due to the high cost of finding their intended audience.
Publishers adopting natural-language focused .book domains will be able to experiment with mash-ups, combined genres and specialty interest subjects, which would likely be unprofitable in the traditional book publishing model. Writers working for them will not be penalized for being less formulaic and for writing more freely about topics they’re especially knowledgeable about. And self-published authors taking these paths will be able to build their own brands from a single .book domain such as FifthGradeMath.book, PulpNoirComics.book, ParanormalThriller.book, ArabianHorses.book, DestinationWeddings.book, DiabeticCooking.book or AbrahamLincolnVampireHunter.book. But they will also be able to conveniently discover publicists (SciFiPublicist.book), marketing resources (OnlineMarketingSpecialist.book), freelance editors with a particular specialty (FreelanceBiographyEditor.book), and new and unique distribution partners (Cook.book) or (CoffeeTableReleases.book) if they so choose.
.book gTLDs will also bestow distinct branding benefits to publishers and other stakeholders who make use of them. From the perspective of consumer discoverability, the power of Romance.book or audio.book over romance.com or audio.com is clear. For customer engagement, .book domains will allow increased promotional benefits; publishing brands will now have the possibility of securing website addresses like TeachYourself.book, SingaporeMath.book, BaseballBiographies.book, CivilRightsInAmerica.book, AncientEmpires.book, SelfEmpowerment.book, AfricanLiterature.book, CollegeChemistry.book, ModernPoliticalTheory.book or MilitaryHistory.book, which consumers can easily locate. The .book brand will open up new possibilities for decentralized customer and reader engagement, expanded consumer choice and increased competition for lower cost online distribution outlets.
Emphasis on format sequencing and imprint branding in release strategies will also evolve to better reflect the needs of consumers. Terms like Hardcover, Softcover and Mass Market Paperback will give way to more descriptive and subject-oriented terms that consumers can map to their unique interests. In the childrenʹs category, for example, most consumers shopping for Amelia Bedelia books will be more apt to search AmeliaBedelia.book than www.harpercollinschildrens.com⁄kids⁄gamesandcontests⁄...⁄amelia⁄ or even by imprint at harpercollins.com⁄imprints⁄index.aspx?imprintid=517996, for the Greenwillow Books imprint that publishes the beloved character books. Likewise, a popular title by Lisa Greenwald will be easier to find for a consumer under MyLifeInPinkAndGreen.book than under the obscure and unknown imprint, amuletbooks.com or even abramsbooks.com, the imprintʹs publisher.
Impulse book buying today is often cumbersome and non-intuitive. Nearly 4 in 10 consumers admit to being impulse buyers. And yet, a consumer attempting to find The Hunger Games book on their mobile device after hearing about the movie reviews would be challenged. The top two URL destinations would have required either familiarity with both publisher and author, or solid search engine optimization skills on the part of both entities to surface either of these URLs on a leading search engine: www.scholastic.com⁄thehungergames⁄ and www.suzannecollinsbooks.com⁄the_hunger_games_69765.htm. But by enabling a .book domain, the simple act of typing in TheHungerGames.book on a mobile device could result in being sent directly to the publisherʹs landing page with reviews, author information and links to purchasing options. In another example, even with prior knowledge that McGraw Hill is one of the largest textbook and professional publishers in the world, a consumer would need to visit the unintuitive http:⁄⁄www.mhprofessional.com⁄ to find portions of their catalog, or otherwise click through a series of links on the home page to find the appropriate domain.
As an effective means of enabling differentiation, branding and consumer choice, .book domains will appeal to virtually all book industry stakeholders, including publishers, authors, book sellers, book designers, publicists and literary agents, editors, book illustrators and photographers, reading groups, libraries, book social networking sites, book rental companies, online aggregators and distributors, and even bloggers and researchers eager to compile their fragmented bits of text and join them together into a self-contained authoritative wrapper.
.book domains will advantage all publisher markets, from Trade and Religion publishers to K-12 and college textbooks, to professional and scholarly (primary research from academia, corporate and government) works such as reference books, manuals, monographs and materials from University Presses. Many publishers in the Science, Technical, Medical (STM), College, K-12 and Professional markets (law, medicine, business, science, humanities, social sciences and technology) are already seeing the largest percentage of sales coming from their own websites, according to a recent survey by Aptara. .book domains will facilitate intuitive discovery further through the use of natural language subject terms that link right to specific books on publisher websites without the expense of an agent or intermediary.
Despite recent advances, the needs of consumers are simple, and yet highly underserved in this market. Is it reasonable that in the race for digitization, consumers would be denied the option of sharing books in households with multiple and incompatible devices? Should consumers be forced to repurchase titles repeatedly as devices and formats evolve? Is it acceptable for consumers to enjoy the freedom to read books on one device and purchase through another, or to easily find and locate books that are of interest on the internet, without knowing specific URLs or the multitude of highly unfamiliar publisher and imprint names? Today the lack of consumer choice impedes book sales.
Author choice and remuneration have also been hindered in the traditional publishing model due to the fact that only mainstream publishers had the ability to place a book in hundreds of bookstores around the globe. But there has perhaps never been a better time to become self-published--virtually anyone with a credit card can do it when the distribution platform is the internet. Self-publishing is becoming a big business for unknowns and famed authors alike. A wealth of resources are starting to surface on the web, and well respected authors like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling have already experimented with their own marketing and pricing strategies. In 2011, John Locke became the first self-published author to sell over a million e-books on Amazon. .book domains will further lower the cost of selling direct to consumers and facilitating a meaningful direct branding relationship with fans.
Finally, publishers who are strong in selection, market segmentation and marketing will also thrive in this model. Marketing and distribution costs could drop significantly as the market shifts to electronic content on .book domains. Printing, shipping and storage costs will only apply to a shrinking number of print titles. Consumers proactively using descriptive words to find book information without being trained will allow publishers to drive marketing costs way down through the adoption of title .book domains. And distribution costs will also decline for publishers selling direct through their .book websites rather than through high end sales reps, non-transparent catalogs and third-party e-tailers. About 20 percent of online sales today are of titles not physically available in traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Projections are this figure will soon reach a third of all book sales. Competition for those sales today is minimal. .book domains can keep publishers competitive in terms of capturing more of that business, and provide new distribution alternatives for consumers as well.
Consumers have very few choices in terms of where they can purchase books today. In aggregate, online retail is gaining market share that other channels are losing, but due to a few prominent outlets the growth in this channel is only further limiting choices for consumers. Consumers are clearly switching their purchasing preferences as the e-book format takes off, but few new entrants can successfully compete. The .book domain will help level the playing field for publishers, authors and even new niche aggregators to create innovative ways to manage book information and profitably expose it to the world.
The .book domain has positive implications for scholarly and professional publishing as well. In the professional world, managing information is a crucial component of being successful. For scholars, publishing is the basis for almost all professional advancement. Serious scholars have traditionally frowned on electronic dissemination of monographs but recent trends in the culture of publishing are bringing about a reexamination of these outdated attitudes. Most scholars are already leveraging their institutions and a network of colleagues in their discipline to market their books on the web. Hyper-linking directly back from those connections to a .book domain can prove more cost-effective than engaging marketing departments to issue promotional catalogs that cannot be discovered by anyone other than a librarian or bookseller.
Adoption of new .book domains will enable the potential for new innovative aggregation domains to flourish by acting as niche clearinghouses where students, researchers and professionals can see book information on a given topic from as many sources as possible. The information aggregation value proposition is one that is very strong, familiar and appealing to professional and scholarly end users. Aggregators can enhance the supply chain by facilitating the diversity of discovery from large numbers of publishers at one time rather than promoting the continued compilation of conglomerate-centric collections. Many aggregators will also enhance the value of publisher content by making the necessary investments in technology, indexing and usability to maximize discovery in a digital environment.
Libraries may also be able to play a role in facilitating new niche aggregation domains as they search to reinvent their value proposition in an increasingly digital world. With the mandate to quickly address the needs of students, faculty and researchers, academic and corporate librarians can leverage their subject matter expertise and support greater transparency in scholarship and research by playing a meaningful role in facilitating the aggregation of niche collections under semantic .book domains their patrons can comprehend. Some of the most passionate and knowledgeable book consumers are librarians, many of whom still spend a great deal of time assembling subject-specific collections of books sourced from multiple publishers, and organizing them on shelves. As credible conduits of knowledge exchange, librarians can have a centralizing impact on the manner in which books are found in a digital world.
Books will continue to represent the voices that fill our planet but their contained knowledge must be discovered. Soon we will be able to not only read and listen to books but also watch and interact with them. But as books introduce new and dynamic attributes to delight us, they will require an unambiguous word that enduringly defines them. The .book domain will serve as a virtual binding, a unifying naming convention providing an invisible verification to all who see it that we are still engaged and trading in the same core product we have placed our trust in over centuries. DotBook LLC is committed to working in partnership with all book industry stakeholders to maximize their commercial interests, within the framework of full trademark and intellectual property rights protection, and with the larger goal of seeing the full potential of consumer choice for book buyers realized.
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