Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
Discoverability is the seven-syllable, tongue-twisting term bantered about publishing circles that supposedly represents the future of the industry. For books to survive, especially in a digital environment, new approaches must be developed to help shoppers who no longer browse bookstore shelves discover new titles. In essence, publishers must make it easier for consumers to discover their books.
On the surface, I agree that discoverability is an important issue. And, I hope you’ll join me at the upcoming DBW Discoverability and Marketing Conference on September 24-25th. However, I would suggest that the current definition of discoverability represents a limiting point of view that can cause trouble for publishers. Here’s two reasons why:
1. Simply telling people that a book exists doesn’t move them towards a purchase. Consumers buy books according to the principle of self-interest. They need to know what’s in it for them. Therefore, discoverability shouldn’t be limited to just making people aware of new books. Our goal should be to make readers aware of a book’s value. It’s more important to make sure readers discover the potential results offered by a book. The result could be any number of benefits, such as pure entertainment, personal inspiration, or fascinating information. It’s the perceived value that drives a book sale, and that must be what we help readers discover.
2. When discoverability focuses on making people aware of new titles without highlighting the value, then word of mouth is hindered – which is the ultimate driver of book sales. For example, last week I discovered a new book by seeing a highly-produced video trailer posted on a popular blog. According to the current definition of discoverability, this modern promotional channel worked like a charm. But, as I watched the video, I couldn’t tell why the book was worth reading. All I saw was just a bunch of fancy graphics with no substance and no compelling reason to buy. Not only was I de-motivated to make a purchase, I felt no reason to tell friends, spread word of mouth, and help generate multiple purchases.
To sum up, discoverability is ineffective if it doesn’t generate spreadability (yes, I’m suggesting we add another crazy term to the marketing lexicon). The goal of marketing shouldn’t be to merely help readers discover new books. The goal should be to tell readers what’s in it for them, fuel the desire to purchase, and encourage them to spread word of mouth. Discoverability without spreadability creates a marketing disability.
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