6 Ideas for Generating Revenue with Repurposed Content
The publishing landscape has changed rapidly over the past decade. With more and more brick-and-mortar bookstores closing their doors, today's marketplace can seem intimidating and discouraging to publishers. But take heart! Readers are still interested in books and are showing interest in using electronic devices as their reading platforms, so the good news is that those collections of titles gathering dust still hold value, and technology might actually facilitate increased revenue.
New technologies and ease of global reach make it easier to reach new markets than ever before, and it isn't nearly as expensive now to transform collections of paper-based materials into digital forms or to translate collections of outdated electronic content into new data structures that separate the form (text, images, videos) from formatting (applied styles such as fonts and heading sizes). These improvements ease the process for revamping collections for new formats, and getting them up and running quickly, without breaking the budget.
But you can't get there if you don't know what you already have. In a previously published article for Book Business, I shared some key steps for getting your content future-ready and reaching new customers. I'll expand upon the first two of these key steps (shared below), related to identifying the content you have and determining how to create new value for your audiences.
- Identify what you have.
- Ascertain the audience, and what they would need.
- Determine how will you distribute the digital collection.
- Develop your business case.
Identify Value in Your Backlist
First, take a look at your backlist to figure out which materials that you own are no longer being made available in print or otherwise.
An effective way to wrap your head around all of the content you already have is to create a single spreadsheet as an "at-a-glance" look into your backlist materials, documenting titles, dates of publication, page counts, approximate character count, formats in which currently is available (paper, image, electronic), and the current condition of the materials. With luck, you still have someone around who knows everything that's happened over the past few decades to help you sort through the materials - or someone who has kept good notes. Otherwise this can take the form of an archeological dig - but take heart - it's worth it. Once you've captured your backlist collection, you can start collecting your thoughts on how to best make these materials newly available. Today, you're no longer limited to print; the possibilities include ebooks, databases, online subscription models, and a wide variety of distributors and secondary publishers who can distribute materials more widely than ever before.
6 Creative Ways to Republish and Reach New Markets
Next, talk to your customers and others in your target markets to determine what new publications they would find valuable. Identify the audiences and what they want from you, and determine what the value is going forward in each new publication. And remember some of your prospective is outside what you consider your target market.
Here are a few ideas for creating those new publication assets.
- Put it back in print. You might have books that have been out of print 25-30 years or more, and audiences that might find value in simply seeing them in print again. Once your content is digitized, your content is nearly ready to publish. You could update the cover artwork or font styles for a fresh look, and you can republish traditionally, or through one of the many services now available.
- Re-aggregate chapters and articles into new collections. Content that began life as individual articles can live again as chapters in a collection, that are released one at a time and again as a whole. This approach makes sense for certain scholarly works as well as novels. Think Harvard Business School -- a publisher that collects its published scholarly articles over the years on a certain topic, such as macroeconomics, and reorganizes the content as a single unified collection.
- Publish a retrospective for a specific author. Another way to offer the content is to produce a collection written by a particular author. This type of collection provides value to your markets who are true fans of the author's work and appreciate having all articles, presentations, and books collected into one location (instead of having to search for a complete collection). You can time the publication release with a special event, such as the 10th anniversary of the author's entry into the market, 60th birthday, etc.
- Cater to the nostalgia market. Ask yourself some marketing-related questions about how you can reach folks who enjoyed reading a book series, let's say, as paperbacks in the 1960s. With the ability to reach a global market on multiple devices, you can create electronic copies of the books so they can enjoy them again. And with so many new movies, songs, and collectibles that could be tied to your current titles and characters, you can time your publication releases with the red carpet tour of a movie with the same name.
- Republish titles from other publishers. Some publishing houses have potentially been through years of acquisitions or purchases of titles from other publishers. These titles are no longer tied to the original publisher, so you have new options for republishing. Your organization may have a basement full of classics that are out of print, boxes of paperback books that could be scanned, corrected, and published in print, ebook, or mobile for previous and new readers to enjoy.
- Create audio narration. Not quite the same dramatic appeal as Stephen King reading his own novel, electronic reading is getting better. While not yet perfected, new technologies are coming along to read text aloud allowing audio narration without needing to pay for expensive voice talent. For some materials this is an option for getting books on tape. In education, this is especially important now with increasing regulation requiring adaptable and accessible learning materials.
These opportunities to republish collections are just a starting point. Once you understand the extent of the valuable material you have in your backlist, and have a grasp on how your target markets want to experience it, you have unlimited possibilities for repurposing materials and increasing revenue.
Mark Gross is founder, president & CEO of Data Conversion Laboratory (DCL). Gross is a recognized authority on XML implementation and document conversion.
Mark Gross, president of Data Conversion Laboratory (DCL), is an authority on XML implementation and document conversion. Prior to joining DCL in 1981, Gross was with the consulting practice of Arthur Young & Co. He has a B.S. degree in Engineering from Columbia University and an MBA from New York University. He also has taught at the New York University Graduate School of Business, the New School, and Pace University. He is a frequent speaker on the topic of automated conversions to XML and SGML.