Optimizing Your Web Presence
Don’t be afraid of electronic distribution—make your content available online, because it’s the best way to appear on radar screens these days. For smaller marketing departments, it’s the best way to market your books. So says the
National Academies Press’ (NAP) Michael Jensen.
“You have to give material to search engines to munch,” he says. “Content is its own best advertising. That’s only going to increase in significance. Most people feel like once the PDF gets out there, suddenly the market will dry up, [but] it’s demonstratively not true. I don’t know of an instance where somebody made the material available for free and sales went down. I know a lot of instances where the reverse is true. Certainly our experience is that way.”
And he should know. Since the late 1980s, Jensen has helped spearhead the course the STM publishing world would take when it came to navigating the then-newly discovered neck of the publishing woods called the Internet by laying the groundwork for Web sites to offer books online.
For the past four years, Jensen, 48, has held dual roles with the National Academies as both its director of Web communications and its director of publishing technologies. The NAP, one of the first publishers to make content available on the Web for free in an open-access manner, starting in 1993, currently makes more than 3,600 books—close to 600,000 pages of content, according to Jensen—available free for visitors to fully browse and search. The group publishes more than 200 titles a year on a wide range of topics in science, engineering, and health.
The popular site—which Jensen initially helped redeveloped himself—now receives more than 1.5 million visitors a month and is one of the most highly ranked sites of its kind for several search engines. Computer-savvy information seekers can purchase content in book form, buy searchable downloads, or view and print individual pages for free. For about half of the publisher’s books, you can get the PDFs for free. For the other half, the PDFs are for sale.