HarperCollins Named Publishing Innovator of the Year
With each of the company’s experiments comes a willingness to accept that some of those experiments may fail. However, a strong financial footing helps enable the company to take such risks. “It’s fortunate that HarperCollins is part of a major media giant, News Corporation, and we watch and see innovation and risk-taking all the time. Couple that with the fact that we have managed to maintain a very successful financial picture over the last 10 years, and we keep bringing in record profits and growth,” says Friedman. “… I think that … we’re very careful with our money, but we realize that investment is absolutely necessary. So we kind of, you know, roll the dice. But we roll the dice with informed information.”
Building a Community
Before community-building and interactive content were even buzzwords, HarperCollins was taking advantage of both. Its First Look program was launched in October 2003, and provides consumers a chance to win bound galleys of a book’s content several months before the book is published, “and then they provide review content that we put on our site,” explains Pittis. “It’s a very, very popular program,” she says, which now has more than 50,000 members.
The company’s Author Tracker program, which Pittis estimates is 8 years old, enables consumers to sign up to receive automatic e-mail alerts with news and information about their favorite authors, such as alerts about author appearances or forthcoming books. “It’s something that’s been widely emulated,” says Pittis. “Virtually every other publisher followed us in creating a program like that or a capability like that. And we did it even before, I think, Barnes & Noble had anything like that. So, it is an example of where we were doing this stuff a long time ago.”
E-newsletter communication has been and remains a significant part of Harper-Collins’ marketing efforts. Pittis says that more than 1 million people worldwide have signed up for the Author Tracker program. The company also creates “20 to 25 e-newsletters that go out regularly, and about another 10 that go out maybe quarterly,” she adds. The bulk of the enewsletters are primarily imprint- and genre-focused. “It’s something that we’re constantly reviewing and thinking about ways to scale more effectively. So, we’re talking about ways to communicate more effectively with consumers about genre areas, so that we’re automatically notifying people who [for example] have said that they read history books.”