Harlequin Dives Deeper Into Reader Behavior with New Mobile App
We’ve covered many of the ways that book publishers, particularly in the trade sector, are trying to surface their content online and connect with readers -- from niche, community sites to free ebook samples. What many of these strategies have in common is they offer free content that attracts a specific subset of readers and nurtures them towards a purchase. Content marketing continues to be one of the major proponents of book discovery.
Harlequin is the latest publisher to advance this strategy with the launch of its Book Breaks app earlier this month. The mobile app recommends free stories to consumers based on their mood. The free app lists stories that are optimized for brief, mobile reads and are grouped into categories like, “Trip Down the Aisle” romances and “Edge of Your Seat” suspense stories.
It’s a creative evolution of a Harlequin feature called Online Reads. Hosted on Harlequin.com, Online Reads offers hundreds of serialized stories that are updated with new chapters on a monthly basis. Book Breaks adds a more personalized layer of discovery on top of this repository, allowing users to indicate the amount of time they have to read and their mood. Readers can also sign up for updates to receive alerts when new chapters are released, add books to their favorites list, and receive recommendations based on that list.
One of Harlequin's goals is to drive readers toward similar books that they must purchase. For example, I visited Online Reads and clicked on chapter one of Plain Stalker, a suspense novel by Alison Stone. Along with a synopsis of the book, there’s “Related Book” listed prominently at the top, also by Stone. The recommendation leads to an ecommerce page where Harlequin lists the print and ebook versions for sale.
But beyond boosting book discovery and nurturing readers towards a purchase, I think the launch of Book Breaks signals a deeper data dive for Harlequin. According to the Harlequin press release, Online Reads attracts over 250,000 visitors daily, which is fantastic traffic for a publisher site. Currently there is no way to identify individual readers on Online Reads; there's no email opt-in. I assume that one of the app’s major goals is to qualify these site visitors. Then Harlequin can transform those 250,000 daily visitors into much more interesting data insights.
If only a fraction of the Online Reads audience downloads the mobile app, Harlequin can collect an impressive amount of data about this avid group of readers. The publisher can understand what type of books readers go to given the amount of time they have, the mood their in, and the stories they’ve read previously. That information is invaluable for Harlequin and will help the publisher find new and powerful ways to connect with readers.
I'm interested to see how this mobile app fairs and what new products and marketing strategies it inspires at Harlequin.
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