Crown Publishing’s Read It Forward Invests in Long-Form, Original Content
Earlier this week Penguin Random House’s Crown Publishing Group announced the redesign of its community site Read It Forward. The site originally launched in 2008 is dedicated to helping its 385,000-plus readers discover their next book. The redesign is similar to PRH U.K.’s recent site relaunch because it also emphasizes original long-form content over a strictly ecommerce experience. “The new design features a fresh, modern look; a more intuitive site navigation; and an editorial shift toward long-form content,” reports a press release on the Read It Forward redesign. Read It Forward features original essays, interviews with top authors, book excerpts, and podcasts.
The goal of many publishers who have shifted their focus toward original content, is to create a reason for readers to return to the site as well as an opportunity to learn more about those readers’ interests. Claire Wilshaw, audience development director at PRH U.K., explained this strategy well in a recent interview with Book Business. She said, “Technology encourages and enables a greater level of communication between consumers and the brands they love. The opportunities to develop and enrich that conversation are too tempting to resist! . . . to remain relevant in the modern world we must listen to what our audiences want and deliver what they don’t even know they want yet.”
Read It Forward offers a few avenues for readers to discover titles “they don’t even know they want yet.” One of the most creative is “The Book Apothecary,” a web-based app that recommends books based on the reader’s mood. “We’re able to make recommendations based on author affinity, category, mood, or impulse. While it’s not possible to be all things to all readers, we strive to deliver the best reads at the right time that align with a reader’s taste,” said Kate Rados, VP of community development for the Crown Publishing Group, in a press release.
Another discovery platform worth watching is the site’s new podcast “Book Club Appetizer,” hosted by Alana Buckbee, senior manager of audience development at PRH and Abbe Wright, editorial director of Read It Forward. The podcast is a companion for book club members, suggesting new titles to read, discussion questions, and offering exclusive interviews with the authors of the selected book. Although podcasts have become quite popular at PRH U.K., Read It Forward is one of the first PRH platforms in the U.S. to launch a podcast.
For more on the Read It Forward launch, read the full press release here.
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.