NBC News extends TV format to multimedia eBook publishing

Only a week after Apple jump-started multimedia eBook publishing with the introduction of its free authoring application, NBC News announced a new electronic publishing venture that will allow it to extend its video, audio and current television programming assets into new markets.

Called NBC Publishing, the new venture will create multimedia books for sale for tablet and other computing devices. “As the tablet and e-reader markets continue to expand exponentially, and as the definition of ‘what is a book?’ evolves, we see opportunities to bring readers a unique and immersive content experience,” Cheryl Gould, senior vice president of NBC News and the new head of NBC Publishing, said in a statement. “This business enables NBC to use video, audio and current programming in creative new ways.”

NBC’s venture demonstrates the coalescence of video, still photography, audio, graphics and text content into a totally new interactive media that transcends traditional broadcasting, web pages or books. Apple’s new application, iBook Author, which is free to anyone, now allows any individual to produce such multimedia content on a personal computer. Many other applications are also entering the multimedia publishing space.

NBC News has already published enhanced e-books in joint ventures with the Perseus Books Group and Penguin. The new venture expands the activity, using not only multimedia content from NBC News’s current shows such as Nightly News, TODAY, Dateline and the network archives, but from other divisions of NBC Universal such as Universal Pictures, Telemundo and NBC Sports.

As competitors, CBS already has a publishing arm—Simon & Schuster. Disney/ABC’s Television group has Hyperion, the adult trade book publishing unit. These arms, however, were mostly set up for print publishing.

NBC vice president Michael Fabiano was appointed general manager of NBC Publishing. Peter Costanzo, previously with F+W Media and Perseus Books Group, was named creative director, and Brian Perrin, most recently with Rodale, was named director of digital development.

Fabiano told “Publisher’s Weekly” that NBC Publishing will release its first original e-book, in both text and enhanced editions, next month and plans to do about 30 titles in its first year. Titles will include current events, documentaries, trends, biographies and profiles.

“In general, text will come from titles already published, direct relationships with authors, and in some cases from the staff of NBC News,” Fabiano told Publisher’s Weekly. “We will also utilize a network of freelance professionals as needed.”

Some digital titles, he said, may also work as print. “We have an incredible marketing platform to launch a product that consists of a combined print book, eBook version and enhanced eBook,” Fabiano said.