How Social Sharing, E-samples, And Mobile Can Revitalize Book Publishing
From an HTML-based ebook sample, actual sales can still happen through Amazon (or anywhere else), and on the very devices the reader prefers. Even print sales impacts are possible with an open approach. In any case, web-based ebook samples may well be the social "spark" that gives publishers control of their own destiny. The convergence of mobile reading and purchasing devices, open HTML, and socially sharable content could be a tipping point for today's beleaguered publishers.
Social Sharing Approaches
Techniques for social book promotion are not new. HarperCollins recently used Twitter Commerce's mobile-friendly "buy button" in a promotional campaign for Insurgent. Other, mostly larger publishers have of course developed their own ecommerce and integrated social marketing platforms. Publishers can create PDF samples or, with considerably more investment, HTML versions that can be embedded in the website of a publisher and then shared on social media.
Companies like Power-Book-Trailers and Aerbook Pelican offer social sharing in the form of YouTube trailers and ebook excerpts, respectively. Library ebook app developer OverDrive has created its ReadBox application for creating HTML book sample snippets that can be embedded on other websites. If the target website is responsive in nature, then the mobile reading experience is a good one. Readers may borrow the full ebook (if available locally) or buy it from a list of e-tailers, but the buttons for doing so are at the beginning or end of the sample.
Boston-area startup TextCafe has developed a possible alternative, combining an EPUB format parser with responsive web design templates to automatically create what the company calls SocialSamples. These are simply mobile-friendly micro-sites --readable on any mobile browser, and including convenient purchase links to any e-store, including Amazon. SocialSamples cannot be read off-line like a traditional EPUB or MOBI file, but have the advantage of being universal, and device-independent. "They just use the browser built into the phone, tablet or desktop," said TextCafe founder Martin Hensel. "That's why they are instantly viewable -- nothing to download; no reader app to launch."
John Parsons (firstname.lastname@example.org), former Editorial Director of The Seybold Report, is an independent writer, ghostwriter, and editor. He is the co-author of the interactive printed textbook, Introduction to Graphic Communication, on the art, science and business of print, which has been adopted by Ryerson, Arizona State, the University of Houston, and many other schools and vocational training centers. Custom editions of the book are under consideration by major printing companies and franchises for internal training purposes.