Consumer-Facing Websites Are the Future of Book Marketing
This must be the book industry’s year of consumer-facing websites. The latest publisher to join the trend is Simon & Schuster with their pop-culture, “binge-worthy” website Glommable, run by its Touchstone Books imprint. According to the site’s description, it’s the place to find content from the most “innovative, inspiring, and forward-thinking creators.” That content includes a video interview with actress and comedian Felicia Day, “2 Glom or Not 2 Glom” recaps and reviews of book releases, and the latest and greatest in pop culture from the previous week.
I dug around the site some, and I have to say I’m impressed. Touchstone isn’t creating articles that are thinly veiled book promotions. The site boasts a number of original interviews and essays, all related to books and reading but none about selling a particular title. And some features, like the “Which Indie Press Are You?” quiz, actually highlight other publishers' titles.
It’s indicative of a trend that more publishers need to latch on to -- leveraging original content to connect directly with consumers in order to learn more about their interests. Though Glommable likely requires significant investment in development and commands the time and resources of Touchstone’s staff, the insights it will provide to the publisher about consumers is invaluable. With information gleaned from newsletter sign-ups, website traffic, social shares, and more, Touchstone will be able to paint a picture of who their audience is, identify the best ways to market books to them, and discover new opportunities to engage that audience and serve up content.
I see a bright future for publishers eager to develop and aggregate compelling content, especially content that readers want to share, which is the angle of most of Glommable’s articles. As word-of-mouth marketing and discoverability converge on social media, these types of interactive, book-lover sites will become increasingly important. Book reviews in The New York Times and prominent displays in brick-and-mortar stores are not enough to sell books today. Publishers need an online presence and an active community to capture reader interest.
Ultimately, these efforts come down to two key components -- great content and valuable data. We’ve covered how some top publishers, including Hachette, Cengage Learning, and HarperCollins are collecting data insights in order to improve their book sales. It’s a useful primer for book professionals who are unsure what kinds of data they should collect and what insights they can derive from that data.
Here’s hoping more publishers jump on this trend. The more the industry understands about readers (and non-readers), the better.
Ellen Harvey is a freelance writer and editor who covers the latest technologies and strategies reshaping the publishing landscape. She previously served as the Senior Editor at Publishing Executive and Book Business.