Tag Archives: discovery

A ‘digital-first’ future for publishing?

Whilst carrying out my regular scouring of the internet for anything publishing related, I came across the term digital-first. On looking more into the term, it appears that many publishers are looking to release new titles in digital format only, in order to predict as to whether the book can sell well in print format. Some of the first publishers to trial this new concept are HarperCollins and Harlequin.

The former announced earlier this year that mystery line, Witness Impulse, would be one of the first lines which the publisher would release digital-first. The first ten titles shall be released in October under the imprint, William Morrow.

Dan Mallory, the man behind the line noted that digital-first publishing was the most effective way to market unknown books and authors. He also highlighted that the launch involved libraries as they aim to deliver titles through ebook loans. Shawn Nicholls, marketing director for Impulse (an imprint of Morrow), mentioned that digital-first is ‘part of a larger branding campaign to build sales for midlist authors overall and to help readers discover’.

As  my previous blog entry suggests, discovering books through digital formats, i.e. the internet in particular, will become easier with apps such as BookVibe. Integration with digital is increasingly becoming a part of everybody’s daily life. Should ‘digital-first’ be embraced by more publishers in the future, it can be suggested that browsing for books online will become easier. (Now don’t even get me started on what this will mean for bricks-and-mortar booksellers!)

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Creating a ‘vibe’ is the new way to ‘discover’ books

In and amongst the depths of the internet, I’ve read blogs and articles which state that browsing for books in a bookshop is the most effective way to ‘discover’ new books. I even popped into the independent bookshop in Aldeburgh, Suffolk (I strongly recommend you go and have a gander if you’re ever around that area) a few weeks ago and got chatting to one of the owners who specified that customers don’t necessarily know what they’re looking for when they come in and come into the store to discover.

Saying this, it appears that all may not be lost in terms of internet book browsing. Lloyd Page wrote a blog entry via The Bookseller speculating about a new way to ‘get your book to the front of the queue’. BookVibe.

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BookVibe is a book discovery tool which aims to aggregate information by feeding into your Twitter feeds.

Essentially a phone app, users will be able to tap in 24/7 and see what their friends, followers and following are reading there and then. The integration with social media site Twitter (and soon to join the ‘vibe’, Facebook), is a savvy way for publishers to see into the reading habits of millions of people. Could such an app take on recommendation site gaints such as Goodreads? It would certainly boost ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing which undoubtedly has the power to make a book into a bestseller. Lloyd writes that Parakweet, the company who thought of BookVibe, have plans to introduce extra features, such as book alerts for new releases. I think this would be a good idea, particularly so readers can keep up to date with their favourite authors. I think a great feature of the app which Page mentioned was the fact that you could ‘thank the author within the app with a tweet that uses a template text message (promoting BookVibe…)’. This creates interaction with authors on a brand new level. In addition, it also allows publishers to see what authors (and book genres) are currently favourites amongst the general public. Another way which the app could be used to enhance author-reader interaction, is if the app alerted the user of upcoming book talks or events in their local area which the author (or other authors equivalent to the user’s favourite) would be at present at.

I guess one of BookVibe appthe most important things to consider is how user-friendly the app will be. The BookVibe website currently shows an image of what the user can expect if he/she signs up to receive weekly emails of book recommendations from friends.

The use of the ‘Buzz’ rating also links well with the new ‘vibe’ feel which the app is no doubt hoping to create.

Of course, Page does speculate on possible flaws of the app: ‘The claim is that the tool can surf through 500m tweets a day, drill down into those which mention books and decipher if the vibe is positive or negative’. The BookVibe website also states that it has ‘analysed over 100 billion tweets to detect book discussions’. Page further wonders as to whether the app will have the capacity to distinguish the differences between books, should two books share the same/similar titles for example.

Only time will tell whether BookVibe will be successful or not and whether it will create the desired ‘buzz’-effect around new and upcoming books and authors. Anything which promotes reading can only be a good thing…


Bookshops – places of discovery and places of prominence on the high street

Over the past couple of months, bookshops have been a prominent topic in the news and have been something which I have been blogging about over the months. Not only are bookshops one of the key places publishers can sell their works, they are also places of inspiration. Bookshops are places of beauty. I love visiting bookshops, I could spend all day in one. It is for this reason that I have been keeping an eye on any news about bookshops which has recently been in the media.

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The Bookseller has published two articles over the past couple of days where they stated that ‘bookshop browsing is vital for the publishing industry’. One of the points which was emphasised was that bookshops enable customers to browse and therefore discover. Bookshops open up an avenue of discovery which online retailers such as Amazon cannot match; consequently, it has been suggested that consumers do not browse the internet as often as thought. It was discovered that 21% of all book sales were a result of consumers browsing in bookstores.

I think one of the key questions is, is whether consumers will  continue to browse in bookshops if they have to pay to browse? (CEO of Harper Collins, Victoria Barnsley, predicted last month that customers will have to pay to browse in bookshops in the future) It was said that 35% of all book purchases are from a book shop, meaning that 65% of people order their books online. Whilst it seems like a small amount, if 21% of that 35% is made up of purchases through browsing then it means that a significant amount could potentially be lost if bookshops do start to charge customers to browse, or the business closes down.

It seems though, that bookshops will not be leaving our high streets without a fight… Also this week the Mail Online reported that mortar-and-bricks retailers will start to sell books with additional chapters and content which will not be made available online. Essentially, bookshops will hold exclusive content in order to draw customers into buying from them as opposed to e-retailers. The idea is only just being introduced with Joanna Harris writing an exclusive additional chapter for her latest novel Peaches For Monsieur Le Curé, which is only available through Waterstones. Ian Rankin is another who is keen to publish exclusive content which will only be available through Waterstones.

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With these latest developments in the revolution of the mortar-and-bricks bookseller coupled with the #FutureFoyles project and the introduction of bookselling degrees at the University of Derby, the bookshop of the future will certainly be an intriguing development in the industry. Personally, I cannot wait to see what will become of the beloved bookshop.