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NBC News is jumping on the ebook bandwagon with the launch of a publishing arm, NBC Publishing.
It's another indication that the ebook market is getting so big that media companies not traditionally involved in book publishing are deciding to become book publishers, or more accurately, ebook publishers.
As detailed by Deadline, NBC Publishing "will produce ebooks based on works from its shows including Dateline, Today, and the NBC Nightly News. It also will tap products from other NBCUniversal units including Peacock Productions, NBC Sports, Universal Pictures, Telemundo, and independent authors who want to 'create content that taps into NBC's resources.'" It will partner with traditional trade publishers to produce certain titles.
According to NBC News SVP Cheryl Gould, who will be heading the initiative, now is the perfect time for NBC to expand its footprint into the ebook world. "As the tablet and e-reader markets continue to expand exponentially, and as the definition of ‘what is a ‘book?’ evolves, we see opportunities to bring readers a unique and immersive content experience. This business enables NBC to use video, audio, and current programming in creative new ways," she said.
On the surface, it's not surprising to see a media enterprise like NBC News looking at digital opportunities. Ebooks are hot, and the relative ease with which they can be produced makes it possible for companies that would have never likely published physical books to get into the book publishing business.
The big question, of course, is just how big a market there really is for new entrants like NBC Publishing. The most popular genres for ebooks are, not surprisingly, in the trade fiction category (think romance, mystery, etc.). Will there be consistent, high levels of demand for ebooks based on content from news outlet? Also, when NBC's Gould speaks of an "immersive content experience" featuring "video [and] audio" it hints that NBC Publishing will be looking, at least in part, at some form of enhanced ebooks. These can be a lot costlier to produce, and while there's a lot of hype around enhanced ebooks (and app-like ebooks), the reality is that this isn't where the bulk of the ebook sales are.
The good news is that booming ebook market gives new players a market to experiment in, and at least some of them will certainly figure out a model that works, expanding the amount of content consumers can choose from in the process.