Book publishers are up against tough competition for readers’ attention, and nowhere is this more evident than in a Google search. On a search results page, we not only compete against other book titles and authors, but we also compete with our own distribution channels, free Web content, video, news and even Google’s own scanned copies of our books. If you find yourself frustrated that you don’t rank in Google as high as you think you should, you’re not alone. So what’s a book publisher to do?
It is a challenging time to be a publisher, to be sure. David Hetherington, a 25-year book publishing veteran, describes the current climate as a “perfect storm, as various forces converge to create what may prove to be a truly unique ‘weather system’ for the book publishing industry.” He believes that the combination of the credit crisis and an economy in recession, coupled with a skittish consumer mentality, rising oil prices and the fluctuating dollar, will have a different impact on each major industry sector. “The question will be one of degree. Which sector,” he questions, “will have the toughest time, and how will they respond to the challenges?”
The Internet has changed the way that publishing companies market books, providing a myriad of new opportunities. But marketers shouldn’t forget lower-tech methods of getting the word out. Here, some experts explain how they promote their books using both the latest and the more traditional methods.
An important characteristic of digital content is its ability to deliver to multiple platforms simultaneously—to print, Web and mobile channels. Invariably, the same content will look different when viewed on various output devices, and it should. Each device has its own display characteristics, and the design of the presentation should be optimized for that device. I can hear the groans from publishers already. Reach for the ibuprofen now, because it gets worse: Content also varies within the same delivery medium. For example, content may be syndicated on the Web to multiple delivery partners, whose respective delivery models require alterations to the design. Even large-print
A “slow, but steady decline” is how Rhonda Herman, executive vice president at reference publisher McFarland & Co. Inc., characterizes the market for reference books. “We are cautious about sales and will feel lucky if sales remain flat.” The reality of an economic downturn is starting to sink in—McFarland’s volume is flat, Herman says, “but actual income is down 2 percent. The reason for this is that we are experiencing higher than normal overstock returns, which is not surprising in this market.” Both direct and indirect costs are hitting the bottom line at the Jefferson, N.C.-based publisher. Higher fuel costs are forcing up the
The Web is an ever-changing animal. Keeping that in mind, the most successful online marketing executives must think in the future tense: coming up with inventive, original ideas to help publishers stay ahead of the game. Jeff Yamaguchi, associate director of online marketing for Random House Inc. division The Doubleday Publishing Group, is one such innovator, and he fills us in on a little secret—that the future tense is not enough. In June, Yamaguchi launched Doubleday’s newly revamped Web site, which uses a WordPress platform to simulate the look and usability of a blog while maintaining Doubleday’s integrity and standards as a
HarperCollins Publishers’ new in-house broadcast studio—developed and built in the company’s Manhattan offices earlier this year—regularly produces promotional videos featuring its authors. The objective: To create video content to help generate excitement for hundreds of new HarperCollins book titles each year. Thanks to positive consumer response to the videos, the publishing house has an ongoing appetite for producing this type of content—one that it is quickly feeding. Last month, Book Business Extra spoke with Marisa Benedetto, executive producer of the broadcast studio, and Ana Maria Allessi, vice president and publisher of HarperMedia, about how the videos are created (http://www.BookBusinessMag.com/story/story.bsp?sid=108713&var=story). In this edition, Suzie Sisoler,
Borders and Vuguru, an independent media studio owned by Michael Eisner, will distribute a Web series, “Robin Cook’s Foreign Body: The Prequel,” through the retailer’s newly launched Borders.com site. The series, which will consist of 50 two-minute episodes, is a prequel to Robin Cook’s new novel, “Foreign Body,” which will be released by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Aug. 5. The first two episodes of the series premiered Tuesday at www.BordersMedia.com/foreignbody, where customers also can pre-order copies of the book. New episodes are available daily, culminating in the final installment airing Aug. 4, the day before the release of Cook’s book. “By teaming with Vuguru
Last month, HarperCollins announced the creation of an in-house Internet broadcast studio to create author videos for sales, marketing and promotional opportunities. Five-hundred promotional videos featuring authors from the publisher’s roster are expected to be produced each year. Using HarperCollins’ fellow News Corp. sibling The Wall Street Journal as a model for the venture, the studio was developed with a newsroom environment in mind, according to HarperCollins representatives. Marisa Benedetto, who was formerly a multimedia producer at the Journal, joined HarperCollins to serve as executive producer of the new venture. Benedetto reports to Ana Maria Allessi, vice president and publisher of HarperMedia. Both
“Today the book business stands at the edge of a vast transformation, one that promises much opportunity for innovation: much trial, much error, much improvement.” —Jason Epstein (“Book Business: Publishing Past, Present and Future,” Norton 2001) That was seven years ago, and today, innovation and experimentation—trial and error—is the theme of the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) report “From Experimentation to Innovation in the Digital Age.” The report contains the results of a survey on the industry’s attitudes and actions pertaining to experimentation (more on page 7). It also contains case studies—based on interviews conducted by Mike Shatzkin, founder/CEO of The Idea Logical Co.,