Over the past few years, direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales have been top-of-mind for many in the publishing industry. This approach has also been hotly debated, with some advocating for deeper consumer relationships through data, and others equating D2C with taking on Amazon in the retail space—a fight in which few, if any, would like to engage. I caught up with five experts who have all dealt with D2C relationships in varying ways to gather some insight into this brave new world.
Jason Merkoski was a development manager, product manager and the first “technology evangelist” at Amazon. He helped to invent technology used in today’s ebooks and was a member of the launch team for each of the first three Kindle devices. Merkoski is also the author of the recent Burning The Page: The eBook Revolution and the Future of Reading.
Q: As the former senior program manager of Amazon's Kindle team, you had an early look at the then nascent relationship between readers and digital content. Were there any trends you noticed that changed your perception of how people interacted with books and book content?
As far as the way that people interacted with ebooks, I will say that I noticed a “diffusion of innovation” through the reading populace. At first, the people who tended to read ebooks were those who I would call innovators or early adopters. These were the people who could see the value in plunking down $500 on a new e-reader, people like former astronauts, presidents, actors and actresses—the trendsetters. These are the people you would see on airplanes in the early days of ebooks with a Kindle, and everyone would crowd around them to see how ebooks worked. Gradually, as the “diffusion of innovation” spread, in part because of these early advocates, e-reader technology became more common.