Ebook “Lines” Can Be Powerful for Brand Extensions
We have started to see a diverse range of experiments with Ebook “lines.”
For these purposes, I define a “line” to be:
- A single source of content
- A content-rich source
- A content source with an established brand
Other models include imprints (for example, a digital original science fiction, romance, or thriller program), which is a topic for another day.
Many newspapers and magazines are joining the Ebook line business. TED is issuing an Ebook line, many of which have become Kindle Singles. Atavist is closer to an imprint, but its model is so focused on a certain sort of journalism that you could argue that it is similar to line publishing.
To be effective a line should ideally be:
- Original material (much of the newspaper and magazine Ebook lines are composites of previously published material)
- Uniformly packaged and priced – most are not
- Offered on a world rights basis – frequently not the case
- Actively promoted by the Web sites and public relations initiatives of the content partner
- A critical mass of titles at launch, coupled with a program of further title issuances
RosettaBooks has experimented with:
- The Galaxy Project (science fiction novelizations by prominent writers originally published decades ago in Galaxy Magazine)
- Crimescape, a program of true crime originals edited by Marilyn Bardsley, the founder of Crime Library. Crimescape has done particularly well landing site promotions at Kindle.
Now RosettaBooks is issuing its first major “branded” line – Harvard Medical School Guides by prominent physicians on the faculty of Harvard Medical School. RosettaBooks’ partner is Harvard Health Publications, the media and publishing division of Harvard Medical School.
The line satisfies each of the criteria listed above:
- Each piece is original with a topic selected to interest the tens of millions of people who interact annually with the publishing and media programs of Harvard Health Publications.
- The pieces are uniformly packaged and priced ($5.99 digital list price in the U.S.)
- The territory is world English
- Harvard Health Publications is aggressively supporting the line
- There will be eight diverse titles at launch
Harvard Health Publications and Harvard Medical School have in place a program that “touches” over 90,000,000 lives annually. This original Ebook line shows every promise of becoming a strong addition to programs in place – for a relatively modest editorial and marketing investment.
My view is that Ebooks are now sufficiently mature as a product form, and that many content-rich brand sources could benefit from Ebook lines in ways that print publishing programs cannot possibly match.