Publishers Boost Discoverability with BookBub
Discoverability may seem like an overworked buzzword, but its importance to publishers has never been greater. As readers shift from purchasing books at brick-and-mortar stores to shopping online, publishers need to find new and innovative ways to get eyes on their titles.
BookBub, one of the many startups in the growing field of “discoverability,” sets itself apart with a simple yet effective marketing strategy. The ebook promotion service sends out a daily newsletter, sharing publishers’ latest discounts and freebies to an audience of millions. BookBub keeps subscribers opted-in by sending deals that match their reading interests. Not only does this drive sales for publishers, says BookBub president Josh Schanker, but it gets readers reading books they might not otherwise find. Following Schanker describes why online book discovery is more important and in some ways more challenging than ever before.
What problem are you solving?
The number of ebooks published every year is growing rapidly, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for readers to sift through all of the choices and for publishers to stand out in the crowd. BookBub offers readers curated recommendations and a low-cost way to sample authors and ebooks they otherwise may not have known. At the same time, our service helps publishers and authors get their titles noticed by millions of engaged readers. Publishers and authors tell us they find value in BookBub because it’s a simple and effective marketing device that doesn’t require them to change their normal way of doing business.
How did you come up with this idea?
My co-founder Nick and I both come from outside the publishing industry; our backgrounds are mainly in internet entrepreneurship and digital media. We became involved in book publishing when a friend asked us to help her think about how unknown authors can get their books discovered. One idea we came up with was to give away free and deeply discounted ebooks to gain exposure for authors, but we had trouble finding effective ways to advertise these promotions. We decided to build our own email list. Readers loved the idea of a regular email featuring flash sales on ebooks, so Nick and I decided to launch BookBub as a standalone business.
What are the most important trends in publishing right now?
There’s a giant shift going on in the way publishers are marketing books. As readers increasingly purchase books online or as ebooks, publishers have been forced to invest less in brick-and-mortar store discovery and increase their direct-to-reader promotion. The realization my co-founder and I had was that despite this shift, there weren’t many cost-effective, direct-to-reader marketing vehicles out there, so we set out to create one with BookBub.
Who is your competition?
There are a number of services that are similar to us, but we’re the largest, driving millions of purchases and downloads of ebooks every month. However, I see our main competition as other forms of media competing for consumer attention. Now that everyone has a smartphone, there’s a concern that people will shift from reading books to playing Candy Crush when they have free time. As an industry, I think we all want to cheer on any products and services that get people reading more.
Our most immediate plan for expansion is to grow internationally. We recently launched in the UK and plan to expand to other areas in the near future. However, we’re also developing new ways for readers to discover books through BookBub and for authors and publishers to better connect with the fans they gain through the service. Ultimately our goal is to listen to the needs of our readers, authors, and publishers, and build services that best help facilitate book discovery and get people reading!