There is no longer any doubt that digital content is an absolute imperative for book publishers. With the rise of mobile devices and new digital distribution platforms like Oyster and Scribd, publishers need the digital chops required to make their books available everywhere and anywhere there readers are. Determining which digital products will best engage readers and how to get those products to market at scale remains a challenge.
Few publishers are developing digital content alone. Partnerships are key for publishers to transition from print-centric production cycles to truly multi-channel production. Partnership may be as minimal as shipping print PDFs to a conversion service to create EPUB files or as involved as hiring an expert to implement a new production workflow.
A number of publishers have ecommerce platforms on their websites, but there is plenty more that can be done to use the technology to its fullest. The most robust ecommerce platforms can track how users browse through the store, analyzing search terms used, clicks, and of course the ultimate purchase. Some can even automate messaging to users to alert them if something they clicked is on sale. These types of data-driven features are key for publishers who want to create a positive user experience on their ecommerce sites and build a viable revenue stream.
Many publishers have been working tirelessly over the past few years to build direct relationships with their readers, whether through social media campaigns, ecommerce, branded webpages, or specialized newsletters. Beyond the obvious benefits of increased online bookselling, these efforts also yield valuable data about readers' buying and reading habits and overall online behavior and interests. And that leads to more effective marketing.
The time has come for many of those publishers who earlier decided not to develop or acquire ecommerce capability to reassess their decisions. Many will find that after five to ten years, previous assumptions about ecommerce are no longer true. The cost and complexity of implementing online transaction capability have been lowered substantially for publishers over the past ten years, driven by a number of factors:
Are mobile technologies friends or foes of books? It is an ongoing debate and one that is becoming increasingly polarized given the rapid emergence and proliferation of "app culture." Social media. Games. Music. Weather. Sports. Search. Ecommerce. All this content is at our fingertips. Does such mixed media threaten the relevance and value of reading books? Many legacy publishers seem to think so.
At the Book Business Live: Executive Summit on Digital Publishing, held in New York City in March, leading publishers from the trade and education sectors gathered to share insight on how they’re managing change and working to reorient their organizations. During the panel “Transforming Your Company for the New Era of Book Publishing,” speakers were asked what maneuvers their organizations are making to thrive in an era of flux.
Over the last year, XML Press and The Content Wrangler, a content strategy consultancy, have been producing a series of books about content strategy. The series currently includes five titles, which range in subject from authoring in content management systems to creating content audits to building an enterprise content strategy. Each title is authored by an expert in that field, but the series shares a common vision and content strategy.
Bethlam Forsa was born and raised in Addis, Ethiopia, where she says education can make a life-altering difference. Based on her upbringing, Forsa was determined to devote her life and expertise to a mission that shapes people's everyday lives. As president of Pearson's learning services, she's answering that call. Through the development of innovative learning technologies, Forsa aims to further the capacity she fervently believes education has to cause positive change in the world.
I always refer to audio publishers as digital pioneers. Long before the rise of the ebook we sat in stuffy conference rooms and discussed the importance of good metadata and the best methods for file transfers or website downloads or digital sampling. With the turning of the 20th century and the introduction of this funky little device called the iPod the audiobook world was revolutionized
Depending on your point of view, digital technology has either undermined or enabled the book publishing industry. Either way, there's no denying that digital technology has changed publishing. Change is constant, inevitable, and often irreversible. So it goes.
The Book Business Buyer's Guide is a technology primer for book publishers: It's not meant to be comprehensive but rather offer a reference on the significant and emerging technology that is paving the way for the future of the book industry. Now in its second year, the Buyer's Guide is broken into four major categories that require publishers' attention: Ebook & App Solutions, Digital Conversion & Workflow Services, Marketing Automation & Email Marketing, and Ecommerce. The buyer's guide will continue to live online and evolve as new publishing and marketing technologies emerge.
Publishers can do more to connect directly with their readers the way craft brewers have with their consumers. We should remind readers-and ourselves for that matter-that craft is an important and soulful part of book publishing.
A reader immersed in a beautifully illustrated book or a rich story, will intrinsically understand that they are connected to a socially conscious author and publisher, and they are therefore contributing to a better society and richer culture by supporting that art. Like that first sip of a great craft beer