In “Company Snapshots,” we pose a series of questions to leading providers of digital products and services and let them speak for themselves about what their company does, how they benefit publishers, and what they believe the biggest trends in the industry are. In today’s entry, we have Bowker.
What does your company do?
Bowker is the world’s leading provider of bibliographic information and management solutions designed to help publishers, authors and booksellers better serve their customers. Creators of products and services that make books easier for people to discover, evaluate, order and experience, Bowker is the official ISBN Agency for the United States and its territories and Australia. A ProQuest affiliate, Bowker is headquartered in New Providence, New Jersey with additional operations in the United Kingdom and Australia.
What’s unique about your company compared to your competitors?
In addition to being the only official ISBN agency for the US, we are a source of other products and services to help authors write, publish and market their books. We also provide information, helpful tips, and guidance to help self-publishers successfully navigate through the many challenges they face in bringing their works to market. This includes publishing industry advice and perspective, marketing tools, connection to partners who can offer assistance, and events specific to self-published authors. We provide the answer to the question, “You’ve written your book. Now what?”
What’s the single biggest benefit your customers get from your service?
We provide authors with the resources to help them reach their audience. By providing ISBNs and other identifiers, by collecting and distributing metadata associated with their books, and by offering products and services to help them take the publishing process into their own hands, we help authors get their books discovered and purchased.
What’s the single biggest problem for your customers right now?
Probably the single biggest challenge for all authors is creating and implementing effective marketing efforts to promote their titles. While cost is still a factor, there are many low-cost and no-cost avenues available to authors who know how to use them. However, keeping up with the changing digital landscape of social media, promotional email, SEO and paid search, for example, can be a daunting task. We help by directing our customers to resources that can help them spread the word and get their books the exposure they need to be successful.
What’s the single biggest opportunity for your customers right now?
Authors are now in a position to take control of as much or as little of the publishing process as they wish to manage. With the online platforms, tools and resources now available, an individual author can convert a manuscript into a finished book or ebook and publish, distribute and market it without benefit of a traditional publishing house. The age of the true self-publisher has arrived.
What industry trends do you think will have the greatest impact on your customers over the next 24 months?
We believe the increasing availability of affordable, high-quality production, in all print and digital formats, will continue to have a positive impact on the self-publishing community. As the field of self-publishing matures, the quality of format—and content—of self-published titles is becoming indistinguishable from that of traditional houses. More and more self-published titles are perceived as having equal value by many readers. This is evident by the increasing number of independent authors topping prominent bestseller lists.
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