Best known as a digital newsstand offering tens of thousands of magazines, Zinio, the San Francisco digital content aggregator, is stepping up its profile in the digital book market, adding a host of new trade book publishers. Zinio converts publishers' PDF files into its Unity platform, offering consumers digital publications with their original layouts and artwork intact. Now Zinio is seeking out book publishers specializing in visual publications.
Zinio digital magazine titles can be purchased through the zinio.com Web site and through the Zinio app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Currently, Zinio platform books can only be purchased through the Web site for desktop and laptops, but beginning this fall, Zinio book titles will be available for purchase for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
"We're building relationships with large houses for books," said Jeanniey Mullen, Zinio global executive v-p and chief marketing officer, "and not just chapter books, but books with a visual component: travel, art books, graphic novels. Our goal is 100,000 titles."
The company's well on its way. At BookExpo earlier this summer, Mullen said Zinio had signed about a dozen new book publishers. Now, the company has signed more than 40 book publishers, said Andrew Malkin, Zinio's v-p, book content—among them Abrams, Architecture/Interiors Press, Lonely Planet, Tokyopop, Chronicle Books, Boom Studios! Sourcebooks, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt—with more enlisted every week. "I'm signing up publishers on a weekly if not daily basis, and we'll have another 20–30 houses closing soon," said Malkin, who also expects to add more international book clients at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October. "We've already signed publishers from India and Canada. We'll be offering thousands more titles very soon."
Malkin also emphasized that it's not just about the iPad; more tablet computers are coming—noting the much-anticipated Samsung Galaxy Tab, possibly available in the U.S. market this fall. Zinio titles can be purchased through the Galaxy Tab's Media Hub feature as well as on other tablet devices coming to market. "We're going to be able to offer amazing premium content that can't be shown on e-ink devices," he said.
And not only do publishers set the prices, Malkin said, "but we share consumer data with them," emphasizing a much publicized sore point for publishers selling content through Apple and the iPad. Zinio software is protected by DRM—which publishers like, even if consumers are dubious—and provides "price variability," only displaying price appropriate to a consumer's locale. "We get metadata on each title, we honor territorial rights, and we can provide price variability," he said, noting that pricing for digital content on the Zinio platform varies widely. Malkin mentioned one publisher that prices both print and digital copies of a certain title at $40. "Some are discounting off the list price, others are pricing to parity. They're all experimenting," Malkin said.
Malkin makes the case that Zinio is ideal for publishers like Abrams and Rizzoli, who have "books with beautiful photos and interior design." The company plans to offer more multimedia content, such as videos, as well as cross-promotions—buy a book, say, and get a discounted magazine subscription. And while Zinio agreements are nonexclusive, Malkin said consumers can expect lots of "unique" content as book publishers "leverage their illustrational and layout-intensive content. We're looking forward to making a lot of interesting stuff available for mobile."