In the Media

Digital Book World Award Winner
14th January 2014
Words by Yumeko Leung
Pics by A.E. Fletcher Photography

Australian author Emma Boling proudly accepted the prestigious Digital Book World Award on January 14 in New York for her historical fiction and enhanced Ebook, Mistress of France.  Held during the Digital Book World Conference, the annual Digital Book World Awards celebrate innovation in Apps and Ebook publishing.

Mistress of France, the first commercially enhanced Ebook produced by Colorado-based software development company Beneath the Ink, took out the Ebook Fixed Format/Enhanced category for Adult Fiction.  A story of love and lust, jealousy and ambition, magic and murder, the novel combines Boling’s love of writing and her passion for history.

Using Beneath the Ink’s platform, Boling – a hybrid author – embedded additional content to create superior intuitive interactivity.  The enhancements allow the readers to access historical information from Boling’s extensive research of Renaissance France in which the story is set, all without having to leave the page.  Readers can reference all characters at any time and access Binks for additional context as well as browsing maps, timelines, podcasts and a gallery of images.

“I'm honoured Mistress of France has been recognised on the international stage by the Digital Book World Award. It's exciting to be at the frontier of publishing using enhanced technology to engage and immerse readers with richer content which makes digital reading a much more dynamic and interactive user experience, not only for the reader but for authors too,” said Boling. “Being part of the Beneath the Ink team and working on an innovative solution within the publishing industry has been both challenging and rewarding.” 

Digital Book World Awards 2014

DBW Press Release, Dec 2013


Random House, Harper Collins, Yale University Press
Among 2014 Digital Book Award Finalists


NEW YORK – December 18, 2013-- Finalists for the 2014 Digital Book Awards were announced today, recognizing excellence in digital publishing over the past year.


Winners will be announced at a dinner gala hosted by LeVar Burton, actor and co-founder of Reading Rainbow, at the 2014 Digital Book World Conference & Expo, January 14, 2014 at the Sheraton Hotel & Towers, New York.


“This year’s finalists represent the most creative work taking place in digital publishing today,” said David Blansfield, co-president of parent company F+W Media, Inc. “It’s our pleasure to honor these companies and individuals and doubly exciting having the opportunity to do so at Digital Book World next month.”

Finalists by category are:


Ebook Fixed Format/Enhanced – Adult Fiction

Collected, Donna M. Thompson

Rain Shadow, Rebecca H. Carrer

Mistress of France, Emma Boling, Sherisse Hawkins, Alex Milewski - Beneath the Ink


App, Adult Fiction

George R.R. Martin’s A World of Ice and Fire, Random House

Steampunk Holmes: Legacy of the Nautilus, Noble Beast

The Metamorphosis for iPad, Rocket Chair Media


App, Adult Non-Fiction

The Pocket Scavenger, Penguin

Psychometry, Carol Golemboski Ltd.

Ready, Set, Baby! The Watch and Learn Guide to Baby’s First Year, Open Air Publishing


App, Children

The Adventures of Captain Underpants, Scholastic

Axel’s Chain Reaction, Allison Pomenta

COWZAT!, Colour Me Play

Goodnight Moon Storybook App, Loud Crow Interactive

Little Red Riding Hood, Nosy Crow


App, Illustrated/Comics Graphic Novels

Go Big or Go Home: Taking Risks in Life, Love and Tattooing, Kat Von D, Harper Collins, Harper Design

The Journey, Alta Editions


App, Reference/Academic

The Animator’s Survival Kit, Faber and Faber

Disney Animated, Touch Press/Disney

Interaction of Color by Josef Albers, Yale University Press

On the High Line, Arjun Gupta




Ebook Fixed Format/Enhanced – Adult Non-Fiction

Henri, le Chat Noir: The Existential Musings of an Angst-Filled Cat, Ten Speed Press

Isa Does It, Little Brown

Pizza Pilgrims, Harper Collins, Harper Non-Fiction


Ebook Fixed Format/Enhanced – Illustrated/Comics/Graphic Novels

A Long Way Away/Along A Long Road, Little Brown for Young Reader (from Hachette Book Group)

The World Atlas of Wine iPad Edition, Octopus Publishing Group


Ebook Fixed Format/Enhanced – Children

Alicewinks: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Walrus & Carpenter Productions LLC

First Time on a Plane, Parragon

The Man with the Violin, Annick Press Ltd.

Seahorses & Pipefish, Dive in Your Imagination


Ebook Fixed Format/Enhanced – Reference/Academic

American Sign Language (Enhanced), Thunder Bay Press

Cracking the GRE: Interactive Prep & Review for the GRE Exam, Random House Information Group

Introduction to Food Engineering, Elsevier/Academic Press

Julius Caesar: The Shakesperience, Sourcebooks

Language of Medicine 10th Edition, VitalSource ® Edition, Elsevier/Saunders

The Making of Star Wars, Ballantine Group


Ebook Flowable – Adult Fiction

Cerberus: Book 1 of Parish, BookRix GmbH & Co. KG

Eversea: A Love Story, Natasha Boyd


Ebook Flowable – Adult Non-Fiction

Cooking Light: Lighten Up, America!, Oxmoor House

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, InterVarsity Press

Life After Life: The Story of Wayne Ford, John D. Cruickshank

That Polio Season, John D. Cruickshank, Toronto Star Newspapers


Ebook Flowable – Children

Can You Survive the Titanic?: An Interactive Survival Adventure, Capstone Press

Cinderella Spinderella, Light Publications


Ebook Flowable – Reference/Academic

CAE Strategic Relationships: Building Rapport with the Executive Suite, The Institute of Internal Auditors Research Foundation

Scotland’s Marine Atlas, APS Group Scotland


Digital Cover Design

Breaking Bad: Alchemy, Sony Pictures Television

A Long Way Away/Along a Long Road, Little Brown

The Persian Square, Davar Ardalan

A Shiver of Sharks, Little Bahalia Publishing

Steam Train, Dream Train, Chronicle Books


Transmedia (Any Format)

The 39 Clues, Scholastic

The Descent, Kobo

The Niantic Project: Ingress, Niantic Labs at Google

The Ruptured Sky, TEACH Magazine

Spirit Animals, Scholastic


The Digital Book Award for Inkling Habitat

The Louvre: All the Paintings, Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers and Inkling Publishing

Modernist Cuisine at Home, The Cooking Lab

Moore’s Clinically Oriented Anatomy, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

The New Sunset Western Garden Book, Oxmoor House

The Way of Taiko, Stone Bridge Press


Learn more about the Digital Book Awards and reserve your ticket for the awards dinner by visiting

#  #  #

About Digital Book World
The Digital Book World Conference + Expo is the largest event dedicated solely to the business of digital publishing worldwide. It consists of a 2-day multi-track, multi-faceted digital publishing program, pre-conference events, Digital Book Awards gala and exhibition hall. Digital Book World, an F+W Media event, attracts an international audience of 1,500 industry professionals, 50 exhibitors and more than 100 speakers.

Boulder start-up develops technology for readers to go Beneath The Ink

​Alicia Wallace, Daily Camera Oct 2013

The bibliophiles behind a Boulder startup have created a technology aimed at enhancing "hammock reading time" as opposed to disrupting it.
Beneath the Ink, a five-person outfit based in downtown Boulder, developed a WordPress-like platform that allows authors to insert additional content into their eBooks.
Called "Binks," authors can highlight a word or phrase and add related elements such as text, audio and video. These could include items such as a map of where a scene takes place, a recipe for a dish a character is making, the etymology of a word or a photo of a landmark structure.
"We wanted to enrich the experience of hammock reading time," said Sherisse Hawkins, Beneath the Ink's co-founder and chief executive officer. "We wanted to have it be a book and put the prose first."
The Binks can be turned on or off by the reader and don't require an app to be downloaded.
Beneath the Ink's formation came after Hawkins, a former Walt Disney "Imagineer," left Time-Warner Cable in search of something more entrepreneurial.
Through a mutual friend, Hawkins was connected with Alex Milewski, a University of Colorado student, and they started a company called Cipher This. The idea behind the firm was to embed word puzzles, or ciphers, in digital books.
Having not much to lose and much to gain, the Cipher This team applied for Innovyz, an Australia-based startup accelerator program, and was selected to participate.
"That was crazy, but it worked out," Hawkins said.
After three months in Melbourne, Cipher This "pivoted" to become Beneath the Ink and the company's focus was now on developing embeddable enhancements for eBooks. When the company closed out the Innovyz program, it did not land immediate funding.
"We came back here very full of life and ideas and motivation, but not very full of money," Milewski said.
Beneath the Ink participated in CU's New Venture Challenge and the experience helped the firm further hone its approach and attract some attention. In May of this year, angel investors -- from both the local area and Australia -- contributed a total of $300,000 in early stage funding to Beneath the Ink.
The investment allowed them to build out the team to five people and land some office space at the former Daily Camera building, where several startup companies have taken various nooks of the 77,000-square-foot building.
Through focus groups and feedback from friends and family the team of Hawkins, Milewski, Dave Kimble, Tyler Johnson and Nicholas Wachs, tailored the user interface of the technology to make it unobtrusive and also make it scalable for use in millions of books.
The first titles to use Binks include Emma Boling's "Mistress of France" and re-releases of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "Sherlock Holmes: A Scandal in Bohemia" and "Sherlock Holmes and the Red-Headed League," and Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."
Beneath the Ink is in discussions with several authors and publishers, Hawkins said.
Boling, an Australia-based author who met Hawkins and Milewski last year and now serves as an advisor to the firm, said she was intrigued by the technology. Beneath the Ink's software allowed for an eBook to be more than a facsimile of a physical book, she said.
"eBooks don't replace a hard copy, they add another dimension to them," Boling wrote in an email to the Camera. "Beneath the Ink have developed a way that I can interact as an author with my readers.
"The philosophy is to provide authors with a tool to immerse their readers in the world they have created, and to keep them in the pages."
For "Mistress of France," a historical fiction piece well-populated with characters, Boling utilized the company's Character Cloud, which allowed for readers to click on a name to find out more information about the character.
"We've all had to put down a book for a few days and then try and get back into it and remember who is who," Boling said. "Binks are an opportunity to surprise your readers with a tantalizing piece of information."
Boling said she added more Binks to provide context and information and then sorted them based on their relevance and uniqueness. She liked that the author had some control in helping to keep a reader engaged with a story as opposed to disturbing the process.
"Finally I worked through the flow of the story and even if the Bink was interesting, if I felt it disrupted the flow, it was out," she said.

Beneath the Ink: A Portal to Adjacent Content
Deanne Utroske, Digital Book World Oct 2013

Fully digital reading experiences remain an exception, not the rule. Yet readers of all stripes are inclined to go digital—Google it!—when searching for resource material or expanded second-screen-style media experiences.

To mitigate the disconnect between the printed book and relevant digital content, publishers are exploring ways to connect readers with adjacent content. Digimark’s watermark technology is making print cookbooks interactive, as Pub Perspectives reported this week. And, education technology is getting in the game too. Pearson’s just announced an app that works in conjunction its printed textbooks.

For some time now, Digimark and other augmented reality companies like Blippar and Netpage have been making print magazines digitally interactive. Can ebooks be thoughtfully improved in similar ways to give digital readers non-intrusive, author-curated content that’s ready to be browsed just beneath the surface?

Sherisse Hawkins, CEO of the e-publishing startup Beneath the Ink, thinks so.

Previously, Hawkins was the VP of software development at Time Warner cable and a Senior Engineer for Walt Disney Imagineering. She has expertise in product development and has successfully managed high tech teams developing innovative products. Hawkins loves technology and believes that creativity is the highest form of human intelligence. She’s passionate about making products that people love.

DBW spoke with Hawkins to find out just how the team of readers and technologists at Beneath the Ink are influencing the future of digital book publishing.

Deanna Utroske: You’ve described Beneath the Ink as a happy medium between text-under-glass ebooks and a multi-media frenzy. Describe the company and explain that notion further.

Sherisse Hawkins: Beneath the Ink was created to satisfy every reader’s curiosity. We push the limits of what is possible within ebooks, knowing that their full potential has yet to be unlocked.

Our research shows that authors and readers want to connect more through digital content. We make this connection effortless.

The Beneath the Ink author portal supports any content you require – images, prose, commentaries, maps, and even audio or video files. Our service is accessible by any author, and the process is incredibly fast and simple. The most important distinction is that readers have a CHOICE on when (or if) to access the additional material. It’s simply tucked beneath the ink waiting for them, and does not require the reader ever leave the page or be connected to wifi.

Shhhh…we’re also working on few new things including a “living” digital jacket flap, Bink analytics, and a clever way for readers to request more info from authors.

DU: Talk more about the vision Beneath the Ink has for ebooks.

SH: Books are the last entertainment medium to be revolutionized by digital technology.

Sitting down with your favorite author to pick their brain about their books is an incredible opportunity that not many people get. We want to make this experience possible by giving authors a medium for sharing the insights, experiences and thoughts that lead to the creation of their book; the “authors cut” if you will.

DU: The subtlety of adjacent content is important to you. How has that influenced the Beneath the Ink platform?

SH: One of the major pain points for authors who want to add rich media content to their books is going through the legal processes to obtain rights for that content. Beneath The Ink is seamlessly integrating our author portal with partner APIs, and taking care of all the legal fluff. So authors will have a worry-free one-stop-shop for all of their adjacent content needs.

Also in many cases less is more. Our focus group testers told us they want to be glad they opened each Bink, so the content has to be a good fit, it’s not about trying to find 5 or 10 words or phases to “illuminate” on every page.

DU: And, what’s a Bink?

SH: A Bink is literally a “Beneath The Ink Link”: a word or phrase that has additional information added by the author underneath it. To access a Bink a reader simply taps the word (which glows on the page) and an inline split will open to display the content. The content includes things like: image galleries,maps, recipes, timeline, character map, etymology, etc.

DU: You’ve discovered a lot over the past year by conducting focus groups. What ideas have you gained and what lessons learned?

SH: We believe in talking to people and getting feedback on the product.

Holding frequent focus groups and subscribing to the agile development philosophy allows us to try a bunch of stuff out quickly, see what works and throw out what doesn’t. We have funny stories about stuff that didn’t work on our wall… The main benefit of constant focus-group feedback is learning what content readers really care about and how they want that content to be presented. We can then offer authors the fastest and easiest ways to give this content to their readers through our portal.

DU: Beneath the Ink is in Beta and currently focused on providing a creation service to individual authors. Talk a bit about how the business will expand to include agents, publishers and other partnerships.

SH: The beauty of our Author Portal, is its versatility. The basic features work well with any type of text-rich content, and it can easily be whitelabeled for use in other organizations. We have been pleasantly surprised by all of the interest from publishers, agents and self-publishing companies. We plan to continue growing and building strategic partnerships with companies, as well as getting the word out to indie publishers and authors about what we have to offer.

DU: Beneath The Ink is an app-less ebook enhancement platform for ebooks. What does that mean and why is it so important?

SH: Right now, the enhanced book industry is saturated with Application versions of books. These costly one-off Apps cannot be accessed through normal book distribution channels (like the iBookstore) and have a very high price point for authors (tens of thousands of dollars up front and/or royalties in the 30-60% region). They also create a more media centric experience, which takes the reader away from the prose of the story.

Beneath The Ink books are still books: they live in the bookstores and sit on your digital bookshelf. We also make sure content is always at the forefront, and the interactivity and enhancements are only there when readers want to know more.