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Facebook Seeks Beauty in E-Book Publisher Purchase

Facebook Seeks Beauty in E-Book Publisher Purchase

Facebook has snapped up Push Pop Press, a young e-book publisher with all of one e-book under its belt. What Facebook intends to do with Push Pop isn't entirely clear, but the social network's intentions may have more to do with interface design than book publishing. In its short independent existence, Push Pop focused on taking new and unique approaches to e-book interfaces.

By Rachelle Dragani
08/03/11 10:30 AM PT

Push Pop Press, a start-up digital publisher, announced recently it's been acquired by Facebook.

Push Pop, founded by former Apple engineers Mike Matas and Kimon Tsinteris, originally aimed to approach e-books by incorporating new designs, better imaging technology and interactive elements.

It's first and only publication was Our Choice, an e-book in partnership with Al Gore focused on climate change.

Facebook Keeps Up With Design Times

Instead of going forward in the e-publishing realm, though, the team will be packing up and moving to Facebook in a move that could be focused more on sprucing up the social network's interface than gaining a new foothold in e-books.

Though Facebook is the far-and-away leader in social networking in terms of user numbers, innovative, technology-rich competitors are jumping into the scene, and the top social network may feel it's time for a makeover.

"Facebook needs to innovate on its experience to keep members engaged. To do that, they need to make the sharing experience more fluid, appealing and rich -- not traditionally a strength for Facebook," Susan Etlinger, industry analyst at the Altimeter Group, told the E-Commerce Times.

The announcement comes as the rumored Facebook iPad app appears to draw closer to making its debut. The company is wise to try to acquire talented designers as competitors race to adopt dynamic designs on all platforms, Etlinger said.

"It's a smart move for an engineering-driven company like Facebook to bring on design talent, as long as they are willing to incorporate design thinking into their platform, their culture and, ultimately, their user experience. That will be the true test," said Etlinger.

App Demand Outweighs E-Book Demand

The news of the acquisition was met with some disappointment from e-book enthusiasts, who lament what could prove to be a loss of talent in the e-publishing platform. But the demand for sleek apps and innovative design trumps demand for fuller, more engaging e-books.

"What people need to remember about interactive e-books is that until the demand is actually there, nobody but tech enthusiasts are going to take them seriously. The handful of enhanced e-books that have made it have been attached to a franchise that is already successful in their own right, or had an unbelievable amount of investment put into them," Michael Norris, senior analyst at Simba Information, told the E-Commerce Times.

Demand is only growing for futuristic technology in the notoriously competitive mobile device and tablet markets, but Norris said retailers selling a traditional product -- the book -- have to keep in mind those consumers are usually looking for a traditional experience.

"The digital bells and whistles and video is meaningless when it's immaterial to the story. When people want to lose themselves in a book, they don't want to read 'click here for an interactive experience.' If they wanted that, they would have gone to the Web," said Norris.


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