On the Web, by-the-chapter business models are already well under way.
When Random-House launched its recent pilot project selling individual chapters online, it chose carefully to ensure maximum impact. “The chapters product seems more applicable to non-fiction than fiction,” says Matt Shatz, vice president, digital, Random House. “Business, parenting and fitness all seem like interesting, potential categories. I’m sure we’ll learn more over time about what works well for this product.”
Shatz envisions a promotional benefit to the service, but says Random House developed it with a stand-alone revenue product in mind. “One key criteria is whether the chapter can stand on its own and find an audience as its own print product,” he says, adding that titles such as the business how-to “Made to Stick” by Chip and Dan Heath are particularly wellsuited to a pay-as-you-go model.
The ability to harness the distribution of discrete content to the ease and availability of mobile delivery devices seems an obvious win to Kasher, who envisions the format really taking off with chapters, short stories, travel guides, dictionaries and translation works.
What is important, Jensen says, is that publishers think in terms of options that fit customers’ needs, “as opposed to the ones that the publisher wants to provide.”
The NAP offers widget-like code that is easily copied and pasted into blogs, where a picture of a book’s cover shows up with a link to an executive summary. “It’s not a huge traffic generator, but it shows more than double the conversion rate, meaning twice as many people who come from a widget bought a book as opposed to those who come to us from Google or something like that.”
Another example, Jensen says, is Random House’s widget, which allows “instant gratification for curiosity” by enabling consumers to view and share pages.