So Who’s Afraid of Reader Analytics?

So Who’s Afraid of Reader Analytics?Data has been a feature of book publishing for some time now. About 15 years ago, data became even more prominently used, as publishers could see sales data from competitors through then-new services like Nielsen Bookscan.

The fundamental function of a publisher is to make a decision on what to publish (curation). Like a venture capitalist, a publisher has to select among many competing and worthy prospects to select those that have the highest probability of delivering an economic return. Few books earn back their advances, and a publisher’s success and survival rely on a few outsized winners. This is as true for venture capitalists as it is for book publishers, record label executives, indie filmmakers and Hollywood moguls.

At the same time, a publisher has to spread its risk across a number of books, because nobody can predict which book will succeed. A venture capitalist invests in a portfolio of start-ups to make sure it contains the next “unicorn,” as it’s called, like Uber, AirBnB, Twitter or Facebook. Similarly, a publisher invests across a range of books to make sure it has the next DaVinci Code, Harry Potter, Wool or 50 Shades of Grey in its catalogue.

It is equally true that not every investment gets the same level of attention. Those prospects that perform better get more attention. And this is where metrics matter—what is performing well and has the highest potential and is thus most deserving of further investment.

Much more.


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Russell Smith: Read Between the Lines of the Ebook Debate (Globe and Mail)
People in publishing are wielding statistics against each other, in the perennial ebook versus print debate, and nobody seems quite sure of what they all mean. All the publishers I know assert that sales of ebooks have plateaued and everyone is investing in print again. In U.S. and British media, much has been made of the fact that recent stats show ebook sales slipping and print book sales slightly advancing or at the very least holding their own.

Big Publishing Is Not as Big Anymore (Flavorwire)
According to Publisher’s Weekly, a report by the Association of American Publishers’ shows that overall publishing industry sales fell by 2.6 percent last year when compared to figures from 2014. Now that we have a clearer picture of the industry’s struggles in 2015, we can tell that sales declined in five of the seven major markets. The only industry segments to show improvement, in fact, were adult books and books from religious presses, which increased sales by 2.2 percent and 1.2 percent respectively. Overall industry revenue fell from $15.82 billion in 2014 to $15.41 billion in 2015.

A Nice Chat About Those UK Publishing Numbers (Pub Perspectives)
“Publishing is now multi-format: success in one format should not be seen as a victory over the other format.” But are we ready yet to hear such wisdom around the UK Publishers Association’s report?

Why Amazon Is the King of Innovation: Prime Power (ZDNet)
We continue our week long series on Amazon innovation with a look at how Amazon implemented Prime, a new kind of loyalty program that is driving Amazon’s dominance across industries as diverse as product delivery and online video streaming.

As Libraries and Archives Digitize, Implications for Individual Privacy (MediaShift)
We live in an era in which we expect information to be provided to us at the click of a button. Paul Otlet, a Belgian librarian and father of the Universal Decimal Classification, was motivated by the notion that the world’s information materials could one day be non-rivalrous through technological innovation. Otlet’s vision of technology generating access is being realized today, as many libraries and archives are in the process of digitizing their collections on massive scales.

Crowdfunding Usually Doesn’t Work for Writers—But It Can (Jane Friedman)
Crowdfunding can market and pre-sell your book. Since most books fail to turn a profit, the ability to raise money and reader enthusiasm before expenses is a valuable resource. However, authors have a poor track record doing it. Over 70 percent of author crowdfunding campaigns fail, and many authors who have tried crowdfunding have nothing to show for it.

Copyright: What Every Author Needs to Know (BookWorks)
Many writers assume their biggest risk is getting sued for defamation. Not so. Every year hundreds of thousands of books are published, but they trigger only a handful of defamation suits. But tens of thousands of writers will have signed away their copyright without knowing it.

Getting a Book Noticed: 4 Tips (BookMachine)
The one question I am always asked by writers is “How can I get my book noticed?”. As we all know, it is possible to write the most brilliant novel in the world but, unless people know it’s out there, how are they going to find it amongst the millions of books available for the Kindle? The tips below might help you to be noticed and to build and maintain a high readership.

In Search of a Publisher (Bookseller)
Publishing fiction has always taken a lot of instinct, nerve, experience and, frankly, luck. When, after leaving Constable and Robinson I drifted into becoming an agent, I decided to stick with what I knew. As a politics and economics post grad I chose to represent politics and modern history books. I knew the market, could help my authors with the text and, crucially, knew the relevant editors. I felt I could not do fiction because I did not have the instinct for fiction and did not know many fiction editors.

Digital Audio Drove 2015 Sales Gains (PW)
Led by a 34-percent increase in sales of digital audio, sales of audiobooks rose 20 percent in 2015 over 2014, to an estimated $1.78 billion, according to the Audio Publishers Association’s annual survey of industry trends. The report also found that units increased 24 percent.

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