Launched in 2011 by TED, the nonprofit organization that sponsors conferences on technology, entertainment, design and much else, TED Books is a book imprint devoted to short nonfiction works designed for digital distribution. Originally launched via the Kindle, TED Books’ e-book releases are now offered via Apple’s iBookstore, Nook HD and Kindle Fire devices, as well as via an app that was released this summer.
In a phone interview, TED Books editor-in-chief Jim Daly described the TED e-book program as “an incredibly creative platform to get ideas out there. We use words and images to offer a more immersive reading experience and we’re very excited about the program.” TED Books has published 28 titles to date and Daly said the program “integrates e-books into what TED is doing and what’s going on in the news.”
TED Books cover a wide variety of subject matter that can range from science, environmentalism, education, sex and media to health, politics and food, and are focused on finding the best and most up-to-date ideas and info on any given topic. Daly said the books are about 10,000 words to 20,000 words long and can be read quickly. The enhanced e-books are generally, but not always, based on material from TED talks, the popular videotaped presentations produced and distributed by TED, and feature video, audio, full color and documents, in addition to other multimedia content. Among the more popular TED Books are Why School? By education blogger Will Richardson (Sept., 2012), Things Don’t Have to Be Complicated: The Art of Six Word Memoirs by Students of the World, edited by Larry Smith, founder of SMITH magazine (Dec. 2012), and coming in January 2013 is In Mistrust We Trust: Can Democracy Survive When We Don't Trust Our Leaders? an examination of modern democracy by Ivan Krastev.
TED Books has also teamed with The Atavist, the nonfiction multimedia e-book publisher, to produce its e-books and has licensed Atavist for Enterprise, the Atavist’s multimedia content management system, to produce the TED Books list. (The Atavist also figures prominently in Bright Line, the new e-book publishing venture started by Barry Diller and Scott Rudin in September). “It’s a nice system that lets us embed multimedia content. It’s fluid and fast,” Daly said. TED Books can be purchased and downloaded for $2.99 each but TED also offers an “all you can eat” subscription model for $4.99 per month that gives the consumer every single TED Books title released before and during the month of subscription. New TED Books titles are released every two weeks.
Daly said that while he does get requests (especially from authors) to turn some TED Books titles into print books, he said print was “not a priority.” Daly is the only full time staff—he said he handles most, but not all, acquisitions—and oversees a team of about five editorial freelancers, many of whom have worked for such publications as Slate, Forbes and McSweeney’s in the past.
Enhanced e-books, Daly said, “are a good addition to publishing. TV didn’t destroy movies and e-books won’t destroy print, e-books are a new format that gives our authors another tool for their tool belt.”