PRH, Simon & Schuster Embrace the Niche
Another major trade publisher has launched a consumer-facing site, hoping to build a community of avid readers around its authors and titles. Yesterday Random House Germany announced the launch of romance-focused site Sinnliche Seiten or “Luscious Pages.” According to Publishing Perspectives, the site offers the latest romance news, book reviews, videos, and blogs. Readers can also sign up for a romance newsletter and buy Random House titles from the site.
The Sinnliche Seiten launch is part of an emerging pattern at Penguin Random House -- to identify, target, and eventually convert specific verticals into PRH-owned audiences.
In the U.S., PRH has launched sites like Brightly, which is dedicated to the parenting niche, and Signature, which targets a worldly audience interested in memoirs and biographies. Both are focused on dedicated niches and develop content from top authors and thought leaders within these verticals. The content draws in an audience invested in these topics and essentially replicates word-of-mouth marketing online, introducing fans of a certain genre to their next read.
But there’s more than book recommendation happening on these sites. Developing content verticals, complete with newsletter sign-ups and gated ebook excerpts, is all part of an effort to convert site visitors into a known PRH audience. Owning an audience is invaluable in today’s book publishing industry where sales from traditional book retailers are in decline and Amazon’s “monopsony” continues to commoditize the book. By forming a direct connection with its readers, PRH can begin to understand how their marketing efforts have paid off, what authors are worth investing in, and gain insights about what the reader wants next.
PRH isn’t the only publisher targeting specific verticals. Simon & Schuster has launched a number of focused, consumer-facing sites. Its young adult hub Riveted is the latest example and features free ebooks, ebook excerpts, and original content from YA authors and fans. Some of this content is only accessible once an email is submitted.
These vertical content marketing efforts are far from over. I predict that we’ll see similar content-driven sites emerge in 2016 from book publishers of all sizes and scope. As these sites evolve, they will become more sophisticated in the type of content that they create. Look for more interactive elements (personalization) and increased multimedia options (podcasts and video) to keep visitors engaged.
We’ve seen the revenue power of niche audience in reporting for our sister publication Publishing Executive, which covers the magazine media industry. Magazine publishers who have targeted affluent niches, like mountain bikers, knitters, and equestrians, have come out ahead despite the tumultuousness of the digital revolution. If you can create great content for an audience that loves it, you’ll always find ways to monetize, no matter the technological disruptions that arise next.