Last week we were in Germany for the world’s largest publishing event, The Frankfurt Book Fair. Looking back at what was a busy week for innovative product launches and exciting new initiatives, here are our highlights of the most significant technology stories, in the order that they were happened at the fair.

Publishers Engaging in Services Beyond Content

At Tuesday’s The Markets: Global Publishing Summit, Wiley CEO Mark Allin delivered a keynote about the future of publishers’ relationships with their customers. Allin noted that customers are inundated with content they are unable to manage.  In addition, researchers spend approximately half their time managing admin.  With a close partnership with these customers, Allin suggested that publishers are able to identify these pain points and provide services beyond simply content, specifically for Wiley, platforms that focus on professional development and training.  One programme Allin highlighted was the Wiley Author Services, a helpful tool that allows authors of scholarly articles to submit to a journal, sign the license agreement for an accepted article, and track the production status.  All in one place, this service offers the ability for authors to not only track but also to promote their article by allowing free access for up to 10 colleagues as soon as the journal publishes, saving time for further research.

Penguin Hotline and #AskPenguin Recommendations Spawn Flipper

In 2014, Penguin launched the Penguin Hotline offering personalized book recommendations for those looking for a gift for family or friends during the holiday season.  With much success, the recommendation line run by Penguin Random House staff continues every year, but this summer, Penguin Random House UK expanded that holiday-only service to a weekly Twitter feature, #AskPenguin where book lovers could tweet in their questions and Penguin Random House staff would respond with suggestions.  It was from these successful ventures that the new recommendation tool Flipper was created for UK readers.  Announced at the Frankfurt Book Fair and live on October 25th, this tool is fully mobile optimized, so shoppers on the go can get immediate recommendations.  The goal of Flipper is to connect more closely with consumers while also expanding the Penguin brand from simply a book publisher to also a service provider.

Refocus of Learning System for Mastering Competency

Learning Objects, a company of Cengage Learning, announced their new Competency-Based Learning (CBL) Platform, which is designed to support programmes built around learning goals and allow learners to demonstrate mastery at their own pace.  With a new focus on learning outcomes instead of the learning process, the CBL Platform streamlines the development of competency-based programmes and provides an end-to-end experience including competency dashboards, personalized learning activities, extended transcripts and evidence portfolios.

Expansion of Digital Rights Platforms

As publishers expand their reach to new markets around the world, rights platforms such as PubMatch and IPR License help publishers share their available rights for licensees around the world without having to do individual outreach.  Jane Tappuni, Head of Marketing and Business Development for IPR License, mentioned on Wednesday’s “Know Your Rights: The Benefit of IP Management” panel, publishers may soon even be able to put in place basic terms and prices for rights deals in certain markets, freeing up rights departments to focus on new or more profitable opportunities.

A Central Hub for Open Access Content

On Thursday at the Ingenta stand, we celebrated the launch of Ingenta Open, a new hosting platform solution and discovery portal designed exclusively for Open Access content.  With so many outlets publishing OA content, it’s important to bring all of that information into one location for users to discover the information they need. Ingenta Open will provide that much-needed central hub and browsing service for researchers, students, and general readers seeing OA sources.

The platform hosts content from all scholarly disciplines and caters for multiple formats, including whole books, chapters, monographs, single articles and entire journals. It will eventually provide access to millions of Open Access articles, whether they are hosted on the platform itself or indexed via third party services.

New Forms of Storytelling Inspired by Technology

On Thursday, on the Publishing Perspectives Stage, German-based company oolipo launched its storytelling platform which uses native mobile technology, such as: GPS, video, camera, the internet, a communications platform, touch screen, picture editing tools, maps, and music, to tell and allow consumers to interact with serial stories.  Each story “world” is 5-10 episodes in length, with each new episode released on a regular schedule.

For authors like Kate Pullinger, who writes for both traditional print and digital platforms, the use of smartphone technology offers her a new way of engaging readers with a story.  In her novel for oolipo, Jellybone, the main character receives cryptic text messages that propel her through the mystery.  For readers, these text messages arrive in the platform, looking and feeling like text messages.  This interaction and connection with the character’s experience in real time provides an interesting new story experience for readers.

Virtual Reality

Throughout the content world, Virtual Reality (VR) is gaining traction as a way to expand stories being told by journalists, gamers, and even novelists.  At the brand new ARTS+ conference at the Book Fair, publishers discussed how VR will change the publishing business by allowing nonfiction or academic publishers to use immersive 360-degree views for better understanding of complicated ideas to allowing a reader to be a part of a fictional story by entering into that world.


By David Montgomery, CEO, Ingenta