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Staff -- 7/24/00

You've Got E-Stories
BISG to Develop New E-Standards | Knovel.com Offers STM Titles Online

You've Got E-StoriesNew company, Email Shows, uses fictional
storytelling e-mails as promotional device

New site offers a variety of tales.
As digital technology transforms the way we communicate, one company is bringing a rather traditional kind of storytelling into the electronic era. Email Shows Inc. applies the 18th-century idea of the epistolary novel to e-mail--today's most popular form of personal written text.
But instead of reading letters exchanged by fictional characters, readers get to peek at the characters' e-mail messages; and these messages seems more like an exchange in real-time. "When you read an Email Show, you experience a character's story voyeuristically; it's a little like spying," said Deborah Davis, v-p of production of Email Shows Inc., and a former story analyst in the movie industry.

Launched earlier this year, Email Shows Inc. (www.emailshows.com) is a small, 10-person company with about 75,000 subscribers. Readers can subscribe for free to various stories at the Email Shows Web site; they receive daily e-mail messages "written by" each character. Each Email Show has a corresponding Web site, with character profiles, histories, articles and archived messages. Email Shows generates revenue through advertising or sponsorships.

Email Shows' first popular success was the eQuel Am.Psycho2000, which began in March to promote the movie American Psycho. An eQuel is a 30-day e-mail campaign intended to build Internet buzz for movies or books. "It's really to create word-of-mouth and get someone hooked," explained Davis. "We give them a taste, not the whole story, but enough so they'll go and see the movie." Subscribers to Am.Psycho2000 received daily e-mails from Patrick Bateman, the protagonist, describing his motivation, thoughts and daily life. In four weeks, Am.Psycho2000 had garnered 70,000 subscribers. Bret Easton Ellis, author of the book American Psycho, supervised the e-mail writing, while Clifford Street, one of the producers of the movie, actually wrote the e-mails. Upcoming eQuels will promote the movies Woman on Top, Love and Sex and the home DVD release of Erin Brockovich.

In addition to the eQuels, Email Shows approaches established writers to develop original Email Shows. Meg Cabot, author of the upcoming book The Princess Diaries (HarperCollins, fall 2000), wrote an Email Show called "The Boy Next Door," under one of her pseudonyms, Patricia Cabot. This contemporary story was written entirely in e-mail format. "It's a challenge to tell a story in an epistolary format. It's about creating characters and settings in this very small space. A book can end, but a story can go on," noted Davis.

Email Shows also develops its own stories and finds writers to produce them. A cookbook writer wrote the upcoming "Word of Mouth," which incorporates cooking tips, recipes, and equipment suggestions into the fictional story. Another show called "Wish You Were Here," about two travel writers that fall in love via e-mail, infuses travel tips and recommendations about the places that they are visiting. Email Shows is in the process of creating a daily comedy show, a fashion story, an underground New York life show, a breast cancer story and a legal thriller.

There have already been discussions about publishing Am.Psycho2000 and The Boy Next Door, and there's a good chance these stories will end up in print or on the screen, Davis told PW. "There is no question," said Davis. "These are good stories written by really good authors."
--Leslie Kang

BISG to Develop New E-Standards

As it begins to develop standards for emerging technologies--particularly e-books, metadata and XML--the Book Industry Study Group has hired Sandra Paul, its managing agent since 1981, as executive director. Paul is president of SKP Associates and is also managing agent for the American Book Producers Association and the Women's National Book Association. "I am delighted with the challenge of moving along the fast track of new technology standards development," she said.
Richard Hunt, BISG chairperson and director of sales and marketing at F&W Publications, commented, "After almost 25 years of producing significant financial benefits by developing EDI and bar coding standards and deploying the ISBN to best advantage, we know with Sandy running the group full-time that we can provide a long-term benefit to everyone in the industry with consensus standards in these new areas."

Earlier this year, the Association of American Publishers helped develop the ONIX International standard for metadata about basic book information, such as titles, authors, cover art, prices, reviews and on-sale dates. BISG will maintain the ONIX International standard in the U.S.

BISG will also work on standards for e-book encryption and transfer, standards for identifying people and companies that create and process text material and standards for linking and discriminating among different versions of the same literary work.

In the future, BASIC, which is now part of BISG, will add emphasis on developing standards to "describe the content of [EDI] transactions and to protect the intellectual property rights of the creators," said BASIC chairperson Carla Borsotti, information technology director, U.S. and Asia, at the Financial Times.
--John Mutter

Knovel.com Offers STM Titles OnlineKnovel.com is a newly launched Web publishing venture that offers online access to technical reference works and provides B2B e-publishing and e-commerce services to other STM publishers.

Knovel.com (www.knovel.com) was launched in 1999 as a division of William Andrew Publishing, an STM publisher with a 700 backlist titles that publishes 50 titles a year on engineering and applied sciences. Christopher Forbes, cofounder, president and CEO of Knovel.com, has been the chairman of WAP since 1995.

However, Forbes emphasized to PW, Knovel.com offers a variety services. The site is an online distributor, offering content from WAP and other STM publishers. It also offers authors, technical writers and scientific organizations the ability to publish books, handbooks or professional proceedings online. The site is also an application service provider, providing software and services to manage the back-office e-publishing infrastructure of other publishers, including tracking and processing online sales and e-commerce activity.

Knovel.com will be launched officially in August, but the site is up now, offering access to about 500 reference titles. The site has about 80 accounts--institutions, colleges and professional societies--said Forbes.

Knovel.com's proprietary technology allows the site to offer online text with tables that are interactive, allowing students, professors and scientists to add figures into "live" equations and graphs and get immediate computations. Knovel.com subscribers can search the entire database of titles or customize database content. Forbes noted that the site will sell print copies as well as online access. Knovel.com will aggregate and sell online content from other STM publishers and will also license Knovel.com's e-publishing technology.

And while Knovel.com's business model resembles those of online retailers such as ibooks.com, Forbes told PW that Knovel is "a different model." Forbes noted that other sites offer "text only. We offer the ASP model, live tables and graphs, while other sites focus on commercial publishers and the IT market." Knovel.com, said Forbes, focuses on a broad variety of STM publishers, libraries and scientific professional societies, as well as the publishing divisions of corporations such as 3M.
--Calvin Reid
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