How Trajectory Is Making Books More Discoverable, Everywhere
Trajectory’s mission is two-fold, says co-founder and chief content officer Scott Beatty. “The Trajectory mantra is ‘Be Available — Everywhere. Be Discoverable.’” The startup is achieving that mission through global distribution partnerships with thousands of book retailers and distributors and through its algorithms, which analyze the semantics of a book and relate it to other books on the Trajectory platform. The distribution capabilities fulfill the first half of the mantra, while the algorithms tackle discoverability by suggesting incredibly targeted books to readers. “The [algorithm-based] technology evaluates language, reading level, complexity, sentiment, intensity, keywords, and dozens of additional attributes and vectors,” says Beatty. In the following Q&A, Beatty explains how Trajectory is helping publishers get their books in front of the right readers, across the globe, and shares the startup’s plans for the future.
What problem are you solving?
That’s a great question, as book businesses continue the transition from print to digital, the largest challenge facing international publishers is discoverability. Publishers are releasing their backlist catalogs to global markets, compounding book volume. Additionally, independent authors have found their way into the global pipeline adding an even higher volume of content. Current book data and metadata solutions are not streamlined for global digital trade and also ignore complementary datasets. Customers are frustrated and sales are being lost.
I think our most innovative approach to addressing the problem is working with our publishing partners by leveraging our award winning Natural Language Processing and semantic analysis engine. It is optimized for English, Mandarin, German and shortly Spanish languages. We will soon be capable of comparing and recommending book content across languages. The system can analyze a Chinese book and recommend a similar English or German book. We are focused on solutions for content discovery and consumption on a global scale. We have built multi-lingual discovery solutions, are driving metadata enrichment, and are keen on developing audiences to facilitate global trade for the international publishing industry.
How did you come up with this idea?
We have previously started three technology companies focused in the digital publishing market and been flattening the world for quite a long time! Trajectory was built to reflect and maximize the advent of a streamlined global ebook supply chain. It made sense to us that if publishers and authors were exerting this tremendous effort to create and release a new title, then friction should not impede that book being sold globally with ease: Be Available – Everywhere.
What important trends are you seeing in the publishing industry?
Whether we realize it or not, algorithms dominate our world. When you input any query into a search engine, view a personalized online product recommendation, and make purchases, algorithms control all those actions. When you browse for a plane ticket did you ever notice how the prices change moment to moment or even when buying a book? Those are algorithms and they shape the economy. They manage the exposure of culture (books, music, entertainment, etc.) that we see. In the Trajectory view, if book publishers participated and utilized technology in an additive way with algorithmic analysis, it would facilitate global digital trade; drive additional monetization opportunities from foreign sales and foreign rights exposure; jumpstart manuscript evaluation; inform and give insight to line marketers; and simply help their internal web operations for higher margin direct sales.
Who is your competition?
There are a handful of companies that distribute ebooks akin to our platform, like Ingram for example. But many of those companies are also great partners of ours because we work with virtually every relevant ebook sales channel in the world.
We see ourselves in several years near the center of the global book supply chain (digital — physical — audio) helping agents, authors, publishers, retailers, libraries, distributors, mobile, new alternative channels, and all players in the ecosystem sell more books more efficiently in virtually every language and country in the world. We want to drive data-oriented solutions internationally.
Scott Beatty is CCO and co-founder of Trajectory, Inc.
Trajectory recently received the 2015 Innovation Award by the Book Industry Study Group for its revolutionary work. Trajectory Inc. is an American technology company that focuses on solving the problems facing the global book publishing market. It was founded by Jim Bryant and Scott Beatty in 2011 and is headquartered in Marblehead, Massachusetts. The company is known for pioneering the development of a series of deep learning algorithms that are used to analyze and recommend books.
Trajectory has deployed an intelligent network that connects publishers with its global digital distribution network of eBook retailers, libraries, school, and APP distributors. The platform delivers 300+ international points of distribution representing 230,000+ digital endpoints including every relevant eBook retailer, library distributor, school distributor and alternative digital sales channel from a single on-boarding point. Trajectory is advancing multi-lingual natural language processing, semantic analysis, machine and deep learning for the international book and content trade.