3 Creative Ways Publishers & Startups Are Maximizing Mobile
Mobile smartphone usage has grown at an astronomical rate in recent years. According to Pew Research Center, 35% of U.S. adults owned a smartphone in 2011. Today over 65% of U.S. adults own smartphones. And increasingly, those smartphone owners are using mobile as their primary access point to the web, reports Pew. Considering these trends, it’s critical that book publishers find new and creative ways to make books a part of the mobile experience. While long-form book content is not always a fit for small mobile screens, there are several inventive ways to engage readers on these devices. Here are some of the strategies publishers and startups have implemented to translate the book experience to mobile:
Bite-Sized & Serialized
One of the simplest ways to package book content for smaller screens is by breaking it up for ease of consumption. Several startups and publishers have launched apps that deliver snippets of books to readers on a regular basis. One such company is U.K. digital publisher The Pigeonhole. The Pigeonhole offers reader a free app that allows them access to its library of titles. Once the reader purchases a title, they can choose to have it delivered to their phone in daily or weekly installments. “Our aim is to use the magic of delayed gratification, along with lots of carefully created fun extras and a direct communication with our authors, to really bring books alive for our readers,” founder Anna Jean Hughes told Book Business in a 2015 interview.
Create Add-Ons to the Book
Another approach to capitalizing on short, mobile attention spans is developing content that is additive to the book. Cengage Learning developed an effective way to do this through the mobile version of its MindTap learning platform. The mobile app was created based on student feedback, explained David Forman, SVP of product and user experience at Cengage Learning. Students wanted a quick way to review lessons and test their knowledge during down moments throughout their day. With that feedback in mind, Cengage developed quiz and lesson review app that reinforces the value of the complete desktop experience.
Make It About Community
Mobile is also a great vehicle for driving conversations around books. No place is this more evident than on Wattpad, the largest reading community on the web. Currently boasting 40 million users worldwide and 13 billion minutes spent per month on the platform, Wattpad encourages readers to discuss and review stories through inline commenting. Additionally, authors can broadcast messages to their fans, sending email updates when their latest installment has been released or even polling readers on what they liked best about their story. Since Wattpad is a place for books-in-progress, readers are encouraged to provide feedback and help the authors refine their works. The community aspect is built in.
Other startups trying to capitalize on the social aspect of reading include ReadUps -- think a meet-up within a book; Glose -- a reading platform with shared annotations within titles; and Bookmate -- a subscription service where users can recommend books to friends and chat about their favorite titles.
Book Business will explore emerging mobile strategies, particularly as they relate to direct-to-consumer marketing, on May 5th at the upcoming Book Business Live: Bookselling Reinvented. Look for more information on this event soon.
Ellen Harvey is a freelance writer and editor who covers the latest technologies and strategies reshaping the publishing landscape. She previously served as the Senior Editor at Publishing Executive and Book Business.