Penguin Random House relaunched its website yesterday, designing the new platform to drive book discovery and build community -- and perhaps most importantly, collect data. The trade publisher has listed its entire catalog on the site, complete with author pages, book recommendations, interactive games, and an ecommerce platform. It released a brief video which shared the site's new features and emphasized that it is a place where readers can come to find the books they love and discover new ones.
"Know your audience" is a common maxim among writers, one that pushes them to deliver the most useful or entertaining content they can for their readers. Yet knowing one's audience in a precise way has been a difficulty for book publishers up until fairly recently. Except
Before the emergence of the ebook, data about in-book reading behavior was not easily available to publishers. With ereaders and reading apps, though, reading habits can be captured and analyzed on a large scale, tracking how quickly readers complete books and where they lose interest. Yet few publishers are using this behavioral data to inform their decision making. "Reading behavior data is probably actionable in some business models, and it might actually be actionable for us," says Jim Hanas director of audience development at HarperCollins