The recent slowdown in ebook sales has led some publishing observers to pronounce that the digital publishing revolution is over. The truth is, this is indeed the end, but merely the end of the beginning of how ebooks and online tools will affect publishing. We have now entered the next wave of publishing’s digital transformation—one that is based on the use of data that is collected digitally and allows authors and publishers to develop unique insights into readers and audiences.
To explore this topic further, we are holding a workshop at the Digital Book World Conference next Monday, March 7th, in New York City, where we will discuss a selection of data-smart tools and outcomes and investigate how these are already affecting the existing workflows and decisions paths in publishing.
Our first workshop speaker will be Tommy Doyle, senior vice president at RELX’s Science and Technology Book Group (RELX Group is the new name for Reed Elsevier). Doyle will present “Playing Moneyball in Publishing” and will provide an overview of how RELX has been assembling a data science team, has created a “book driven investment fund,” has driven higher than industry returns, and has created—using data-smart tools—a portfolio that now commands some of the highest usage and citations per book in research.
RELX uses data in three key areas:
– Acquisition: What to publish
– User Experience: Creating better product in terms of content, reading interfaces, and information discoverability
– Satisfaction: Help clients formulate a better content ROI/investment case
I will then present the second segment, about how trade publishers can collect reading data and audience insights for third party apps, such as iBooks, Adobe Digital Editions and select Android apps, using candy.js to build the audience profile of a book and measure completion rate, velocity and recommendation factor (Net Promoter Score), as well as measure how the appeal of a book might vary by demographic.
Kornelia Holzhausen, head of digital for Piper Publishing (member of the Bonnier Germany group), will then present the third segment, titled “Instinct Versus Data,” which will showcase one publisher’s practical experience in conducting reader analytics and following up on the data collected. How do authors, editors, publicists and marketing specialists view the available data and what is the impact on traditional publishing workflows to reduce risk and drive revenue?
I will then round off the workshop with the final two segments. The first will be on practical publishing use cases for reader analytics in publishing, such as:
– Testing “big titles” prior to publication
– Identifying genre “sleeper” titles that strongly resonate with readers
– Testing, prioritizing and nurturing debut authors by distinguishing between weak one-off sales signals and genuine reader engagement and reader loyalty
– Understanding why a promising title underperformed in terms of sale by examining whether the content was at fault, or it was the cover, marketing, positioning, etc.
– A/B testing covers without readers’ knowledge and assessing how different covers impact reader interest, expectations and engagement
The other and final segment will be “Observing Readers in Their Natural Habitat,” in which we will explore the question, What is reader analytics teaching us about ebook readers in particular and readers in general? For a warmup to the final session, you can read the following posts:
• “The Internet of Bookish Things”
• “Reading Fast and Slow – Observing Book Readers in Their Natural Habitat”
• “Start Strong or Lose Your Readers”
• “What Books Have the X-Factor? Measuring a Book’s Net Promoter Score”
• “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, But What About Readers?”
• “How Does Age Affect Reading”
Workshop participants will have an opportunity to ask questions, and there will be an in-depth discussion of the issues, experiences and challenges that face publishers in this brave new world of smart data.
To book your ticket, go to the conference website. Places are going fast! We are rapidly approaching full capacity.
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