Q: How do you see publishers changing their acquisition and content creation processes to accommodate new types of interactive or social books?
Smart publishers are changing to adopt best-practices from the tech industry, taking Silicon Valley thinking and applying it internally. This means, for example, creating new types of ebook apps. Creating innovative retail portals to help users discover, buy and read content. But when it comes to content creation and acquisition, the process is mostly unchanged—much to the discredit of publishers. Ebooks have propelled self-publishing into new heights, and I believe there are lessons to be learned from digital self-publishing that could benefit savvy publishers.
Q: One challenge of a direct-to-consumer model is that some feel that it's simply a euphemism for “competing with Amazon” on a retail level. What are some of the non-e-commerce related benefits of building direct consumer relationships?
There isn’t a single publisher around that can compete with Amazon. But it’s not about competition. The direct-to-consumer model is about knowing your customer. It’s all-important! Typically, the primary customers that a publisher engages with are business-to-business customers: the retailers and distributors. But not the end-readers. By knowing what the end-readers want, what they’re like, what other books they buy, who their friends are, what books they’re sharing, how much they spend on discretionary reading–well, it’s a treasure trove of data that can help not only market books better, but help curate new books, or new editions of existing books. That said, retailing content isn’t necessarily the only way to gather this data–there are intriguing platforms now which help to connect publishers to readers without encumbering publishers with the burden of setting up their own niche retail portal.
The Data Junkie
Laura Dawson is product manager for identifiers at Bowker. She can’t stop talking about identifiers, metadata and book discovery. She has recently published a collection of short stories, The Place Where I Come From.