What Book Publishers Can Learn from the Podcast Model

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What Book Publishers Can Learn from the Podcast ModelDid you make the same mistake I did and assume that podcasts are yesterday’s platform—that interest in them has plateaued (at best) and they’re not worth thinking about today? If so, here’s a short article that might help you re-think your stance. If you’re still not convinced, have a look at the infographic in this article, paying close attention to the chart showing how podcast listening is on the rise.

What seemed like a fad that’s dying off is actually showing nice growth. And I’m contributing to that growth, as I now listen to a variety of podcasts during my daily work commute. As I leverage this medium, I’m realizing it offers some very important lessons for book publishers:

Simple, easy subscriptions – When I discover a new podcast I’m interested in, I literally click once to subscribe, and the content stream comes to me. What could be easier? More important, what’s the analogy in the book publishing world? How do I “subscribe” to an author, series or topic? We all have our favorite authors. Wouldn’t it be terrific if a single click could initiate a subscription to everything they write in the future? That includes having samples of their new books delivered automatically to your preferred reading app or device.

Steady rhythm – Your favorite podcasts are usually delivered on a predictable schedule. Some are daily while others are weekly. This rhythm leads to anticipation, knowing that today’s edition will be loaded on your device at the usual time. This is another concept that’s totally foreign to book publishers. Books are released according to seemingly random schedules, and some publishers are still even locked into the old “season” model. If you’re going to enable readers to subscribe to an author or topic as described above, be sure to produce a steady, engaging stream of valuable content for your audience.

Discovery – This remains one of the hot topics, always on the minds of book publishers. If you’re focused on discovery, think about this question: How well do each of your products enable discovery of your other related products? Some publishers still rely on back-of-book ads, even in ebooks. How about automatically delivering other related content to your audience? A good example is how NPR promotes new podcasts. Yes, they advertise by plugging new ones in old, established podcasts. But recently I noticed they took the bold step of automatically downloading the first segment of a new podcast onto my device. I don’t recall opting in to that, and it might irritate anyone keeping a close eye on their data plans. But it’s a novel concept. I wasn’t going to seek that new podcast out, and now all I have to do is click “play” to try it out—yet another example of one-click access and engagement.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the podcast marketplace, it’s time to take a closer look. Subscribe to two or three that look interesting and see what other lessons can be learned.


This article first appeared on Joe Wikert’s Digital Content Strategies.


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2 thoughts on “What Book Publishers Can Learn from the Podcast Model

  1. David brown

    Joe, more good thoughts in this post. Subscriptions and rhythm are exactly what my company (www.fictionvortex.com) is experimenting with. Episodic serial fiction from shared storyworlds that publish on a weekly basis. We are only a year old, and have stuck mostly to our Kickstarter audience so far, but will be marketing more soon.

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  2. Chris

    I really agree with the sentiments here. I’ve worked in publishing, and I believe a consistent flow of engaging content is key, and the simplified, utilitarian podcast can aid professionals in the field in keeping consumer interest at a similarly consistent yet rising pace. Podcasts featuring author and even editor interviews can really give readers a ground-floor insight into the making of a work, much like the movies. And even without podcasting, printed interviews, sample chapters, and even promo art or other materials coming out on a bi-weekly basis can keep interest alive.

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