Royards Publishing launches the e-book platform
On December 3, Royards Publishing presented its new online e-book platform, Digital Canopi.
The project began during the containment of covid19, explained Dwight Narinesingh, second-generation director of the publishing house.
One of the most effective tools we have in this covid containment is technology, ”he said during the live launch.
“As the world goes digital, we need to adapt. “
Royards has been in business for 35 years with 150 educational titles currently in print edition.
According to its website, the company was founded in 1984 in Trinidad and has since served the Caribbean region extending to Belize, Bahamas, Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands. It produces teaching materials at the primary and secondary levels.
“We need to be able to offer these textbooks to students and schools as e-book options,” Narinesingh said.
“We are responding to the need for blended learning and digital transition. “
Sheldon Monderoy, CTO of Blue Guruz, built the first phase of the project with a focus on efficiency and transparency for publishers.
Information for editors and authors is immediately available on the backend of the service.
For users, getting a book from Digital Canopi is a familiar two-part exercise modeled on the Amazon Kindle method of e-book distribution.
Users create an account on the Digital Canopi website and browse the books available there.
There are currently 175 books available on the 47 author platform and the company is currently in talks with 20 others about hosting their books in digital format.
Books on the platform earn authors and publishers an 80% royalty less bank charges, withholding taxes, and all incidental costs. Digital Canopi takes 20% for hosting and delivery.
When asked about the list of US dollar books and the author’s payment, Narinesingh noted that: “Various payment options have been explored as the goal is to be accessible worldwide.
“For this reason, we have kept the currency at a constant US dollar. We use Stripe credit card processing services in the United States for secure transactions and the United States dollar is the required currency. “
The company is currently in talks with Caribbean-based payment solutions companies to use their products in the local market.
“E-commerce platforms are impacted by the lack of harmonization of e-commerce settlement systems within Caricom. The costs of processing different currencies within Caricom will be prohibitive for a small business and (in particular) in an environment where the business is trying to grow the e-book market, ”Narinesingh said.
“Payment will be made at current exchange rates for local authors who do not have an account in the United States. For authors overseas, we will make payments in US dollars from our collection bank in the United States. . “
A purchase goes to the user’s account who then downloads the Digital Canopi app to a Windows, Android or iOS device.
After entering their account credentials, any purchased books appear in the app for viewing.
There are three widely used formats for creating eBooks. The most common and economical format is the epub format, which uses custom markup code similar to that used for web pages to reproduce text and graphics.
Amazon’s mobi format is a proprietary form of epub.
It’s a great way to produce a lightweight reproduction of a book with a lot of text, but it fails dramatically on the design front, reducing the book’s design to a stream of text interspersed with graphic images.
The other format is PDF, which faithfully reproduces the design of a book and can embed fonts to create a partially live version of a text. Both formats support hyperlinks.
For Digital Canopi, Royards and Blue Guruz have opted for an encrypted version of the PDF which can only be read in the Digital Canopi application. This tackles the most common scourge that attacks digital books – rampant piracy – but creates a document that doesn’t fit particularly well on smartphone screens.
It is not possible to test this beyond the sample of the book available for each title on the site, as the books only transfer to the app if you purchase them.
In my own eBook collection, when an option is available for PDF and epub, I often choose both, reading the more flexible epub version on the smartphone screen and switching to the smarter-designed PDF version. on a tablet.
Several authors were happy enough with their experience on the new eBook website to make a personal appearance to salute the effort.
Author Marsha Gomes-McKie, a self-published local author and illustrator who writes children’s books, romance, and fantasy folk fiction and is the author of Soucou Yant, was one of the first authors to publish on Digital Canopi.
“My goal is to bring Caribbean tales to the world and tell our stories our way,” said McKie, hailing Digital Canopi as “providing an indispensable platform for Caribbean writers”.
“We need the support of the industry to promote and sell these stories.”
She was just joined in the livestream by children’s book authors Shivani Ramoutar, Phillip Simon and Aarti Gosine, business advice writer Carol Anne Joseph, financial writer Asif Cassim, poet Katrina Khan-Roberts and the columnist Tony Deyal.
In his explanation of the platform, Monderoy explained that bulk licenses for education are available on the platform and that official documents and reference material for business or government can also be distributed there at using a private viewing option that hides the visibility of selected titles from general access.
For education, the tradition of e-books published for educational purposes has been a model of rental, with books licensed for use for the duration of school requirements, often at quite intimidating prices.
“In anticipation of the demands of the education system,” Narinesingh explained, “we have created a subscription module which offers the possibility of purchasing a textbook directly or purchasing a subscription to the textbook for a fixed period at a lower cost. “
“It’s similar to renting content. For example, a student who needs a textbook for a school year can purchase a subscription for 280 days or nine months for less.”
“Once the specified date is reached, the content is removed from the user’s device. This is available to any publisher or author.”
The examples on the Digital Canopi site don’t offer major savings on rentals, with price differentials between two and three dollars. These are Royards editions, however, and other publishers may make a greater distinction between purchases and rentals.
Nor am I able to account for how books that seem to have blanks to fill out, like math problems in a textbook, work in the app. In the examples I viewed on the website, these response ranges were not selectable.
But Digital Canopi is in its early stages of development, with digital rights management and audiobook offerings coming into its next phase.
“We spoke with regional and extra-regional publishers who have expressed an interest in putting their books and / or catalogs online,” Narinesingh said.
As more authors begin to generate sales on Digital Canopi, it is hoped that this will inspire publishers to place their titles. “
“Digital Canopi is particularly attractive to publishers whose books / catalogs (which are) out of print or who face the high cost of physical distribution in markets where they may not have agents and / or distributors.”
“On top of that, we are aware that the Caribbean publishing industry is grappling with the sale of physical books (apart from educational books). “
“We hope this will help bring more titles to market and develop the ecosystem.”