In an interview session on day two of the 2016 Digital Book World Conference, Conference Council Chair Mike Shatzkin spoke to Barnes & Noble’s new chief digital officer (CDO), Fred Argir, about how the company is innovating and what he views as some of the company’s biggest challenges.
As the retailer’s first CDO, Argir noted his role is new: “It’s a role that is part digital, part technology, part marketing,” he said. “I have complete responsibility for BarnesandNoble.com as well as Nook.”
One of the biggest themes that Shatzkin and Argir discussed was the retailer’s continued transformation and how it is finding new ways to compete in the industry and engage customers.
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Jonathan Taplin: Platform—Not Content—Is King (DBW)
“Though I want to think content is king, I’m worried platform is king,” said Jonathan Taplin, University of Southern California professor and director of USC Annenberg Innovation Lab, at Digital Book World 2016. “I think the fact that there will be five billion smartphones and mobile devices by 2020 gives content platforms extraordinary power.”
Rand Fishkin on SEO: ‘Failure + Learning x Time = Success’ (DBW)
On the second day of the 2016 Digital Book World Conference, Moz Founder Rand Fishkin gave an energetic presentation about the benefits of search engine optimization (SEO) for book publishers, and provided a litany of best practices to help them get started.
Audiobook Leaders Discuss Discoverability and Audible (DBW)
Audiobooks have been growing at a fast rate. Libraries have seen an increase in downloads and Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy said that sales have gone up by 40 percent through the first nine months of 2015. At Digital Book World 2016, a panel including Troy Juliar of Recorded Books, Ralph Lazaro of Findaway, Erica Lazzaro of OverDrive, and Dan Zitt of Penguin Random House discussed how companies can use this positive trend to make their titles more discoverable as well as how they work with audiobook giant Audible.
How Rodale Transformed Its Business in the Digital Age (DBW)
“Our theme today is transformation at Rodale,” began Mary Ann Naples, former senior vice president and publisher of Rodale Books and Rodale Wellness, during her talk at Digital Book World 2016. “As an industry, we’ve been through a lot. How did Rodale, which is not a Big Five publisher, gain and keep a competitive edge?”
What Today’s Investors Are Looking for in Publishers (DBW)
For investors dealing with content, it’s not enough for publishers to be digitally savvy. Rather, they should know how to engage an audience and leverage data to create products customers want. In a panel at Digital Book World 2016 that featured O’Reilly’s Jon Semel, Wicks Group’s Tom Kearney, Ingram’s David Rolin, and New York University’s Frank Mollosty, the four leaders discussed what investors are looking for in publishers.
4 Book Startups to Watch Out for in 2016 (DBW)
In a forum called “Launchpad: New Players, New Platforms, and New Propositions for the Publishing Industry” at Digital Book World 2016, four startup founders shared how their companies are changing how readers interact with content. Included in the discussion were Katie Palenscar of Unbound Concepts, Peter Kay of NCVRS, Chang Kim of Tapas, and Chris Sim of Kadaxis. Here’s a breakdown of what their companies create and why you should keep them on your radar.
Nuts, Bolts and ‘The Persistence of Print’ at DBW (Pub Perspectives)
On the pre-conference day of Digital Book World, the children’s market focused on gains and print loyalty, and workshops explored the digital development of sales and audience.
Using Data to Make Smarter Publishing Decisions (Pub Perspectives)
At Digital Book World, Kelly Gallagher showed just how effective data analysis can be and how it can help you make decisions that will lead to more book sales.
Ingram at DBW: ‘Transformation Is Not Just A Slogan’ (Pub Lunch)
Ingram Content Group CEO John Ingram led the “transformation” keynotes at Digital Book World on Tuesday, just days after the announcement of ICG’s deal to acquire the Perseus Distribution business. On the broader theme, in which new business now generates 44 percent of ICG’s profit versus 13 percent in 2005, Ingram said, “Transformation is not just a slogan…. It really is about cultural change within the organization. In our case, it was consciously saying we’re going to give up some control, because we want to be more innovative, since those things are directly in conflict.”
Going from a Small Indie Press to a Traditional Print Deal (BookBub)
What does it take to get from a small, independent digital-first press to the New York Times bestseller list — and a deal for a new book with a Big Five publisher? Kate Moretti knows. That’s exactly what happened to her when she published her debut novel, Thought I Knew You, with Red Adept Publishing. We interviewed Kate to find out how she approached her marketing strategy for her debut novel. She was kind enough to share the book marketing lessons she learned.
Barnes & Noble Education Gives Up on Yuzu (Pub Lunch)
We’ve been skeptical of Barnes & Noble Education’s digital platform Yuzu since they started it in 2014, ever since we learned that a yuzu “is a hybrid citrus fruit with curiously high ratio of seeds to juice.” In reporting fiscal third quarter results on Tuesday morning, the company finally announced the end of their attempt to turn what didn’t work for Nook into something similar.
The Nook’s Weird Death March (Gene Doucette)
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Barnes & Noble has become that relative we all talk about as if they’re already dead, even when they’re right in the room with us, and they don’t even mind because at least we’re talking about them. I say this knowing all too well that people have been eulogizing this former titan of retail for years and yet the company is still around. That doesn’t mean the eulogies have been incorrect; it’s just taking longer than expected. Like Radio Shack, which you probably think has been out of business for five or six years now but only filed for bankruptcy in 2015 and probably still have some stores out there somewhere.
Facebook Is Eating the World (CJR)
Something really dramatic is happening to our media landscape, the public sphere, and our journalism industry, almost without us noticing and certainly without the level of public examination and debate it deserves. Our news ecosystem has changed more dramatically in the past five years than perhaps at any time in the past five hundred. We are seeing huge leaps in technical capability—virtual reality, live video, artificially intelligent news bots, instant messaging, and chat apps. We are seeing massive changes in control, and finance, putting the future of our publishing ecosystem into the hands of a few, who now control the destiny of many.
Sales Fall at Wiley As Print Book Decline Continues (Pub Lunch)
Wiley reported fiscal third quarter sales through the period ending January 31, with sales of $436 million, down $29.5 or 6.3 percent from a year ago. Adjusted net income of $39 million was down more, falling $20 million. The company took a $13.7 million restructuring charge in the quarter “related to the restructuring of our books businesses, the outsourcing of US distribution operations, and the implementation of other shared services efficiency initiatives.”