Well, right off the bat, a digital user gives us data in real time in a way that a paper book reader does not. When someone buys a physical book, they create a single cluster of data points: a book was bought at location A by customer B via credit card C. Then it ends. If it’s a cash sale we know even less. We don’t know what happens to that individual book. Does it get lent? Given away? Sold at a church sale? Everything after that first point of sale is dark.
By contrast, a digital reader is creating hundreds of data points, sometimes hundreds a minute. They login to an account (we know all kinds of information about them through that registration); they open a book (what page are they on, how fast are they reading, when did they buy the book, did they take a long break?); they read for a period of time (what device are they reading on, what time of day is it, are there intermittent page turns?); they then browse for a new title (what are they looking at, how long do they stay on individual book pages, do they download samples, do they click through videos, is this a new genre for them?); and so on. It’s amazing.
and Andrew Savikas
Peter Collingridge and Andrew Savikas are VP of product development and CEO, respectively, at Safari Books Online. The Safari team has recently launched Safari Flow, a reading and recommendation web application for tech books.
Q: Safari Books Online has had a history of close relationships with both authors and readers. Have you seen these relationships evolve over time?
Andrew: Absolutely, especially with authors. When we started there was no Netflix, there was no Spotify, there was no ZipCar or AirBnB—there just wasn’t as much awareness of subscription models beyond printed magazines. A lot of authors were skeptical of a service that charged customers about the same price as a single tech book, but let them read as much as they want. It took time to demonstrate that we were a really valuable addition to the ecosystem—giving their content exposure to audiences like enterprises and government agencies, which they’d have a very tough time reaching in other ways.