What makes HarperCollins an innovative publisher?
I can say that there is a culture and willingness to experiment. One of the most recent examples is our endorsement of the subscription model [by partnering] with startups. That is really in the spirit of exploring additional channels to market our content, supporting startups, and also making sure that the value of our content is recognized.
It is also an opportunity for us to see and learn early on what may work differently in new types of channels. As an example, it's been only a few months [since making our backlist available on Scribd, Oyster, and Entitle], but a huge part of our backlist has been touched by consumers at least once. So the data so far confirms our assumption that our visibility is increased by offering consumers different ways of accessing content. And that visibility means increased sales.
You also partnered with Accenture to work on a direct sales project. Could you tell us about that?
That's another way of trying to offer services to authors as much as it is to reach the consumers where they are. With Accenture, and with a couple other third parties, we've created two websites, one for C.S. Lewis and one for Narnia. Accenture, Digital River, Bluefire, and Supadu provided the technology so the C.S. Lewis estate has the ability of selling direct to consumers. In that process we're also seeing what works and what doesn't.
How are consumers responding to direct sale offers?
They are responding well, but I think it is still early days. What we're learning is how receptive readers are to different opportunities. When we launched these websites, we had an exclusive piece of content as part of our HarperCollins Reader App, [Beyond the Wardrobe: The Official Guide to Narnia], and that was very welcome. We've also had price promotions since and they were not particularly well received. We are learning how consumers in different environments react to different things in terms of value. Price promotions might be more appropriate within our traditional retail channel whereas a unique piece of content might be more appropriate on an author's site.
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