Author Archives: Andrew Rhomberg

Andrew Rhomberg

About Andrew Rhomberg

Andrew is the founder of Jellybooks, a start-up focused on book discoverability and reader analytics. He previously worked at txtr (whitelabel ebook retail platform), Skype (internet telephony), Reciva (internet radio), gate5 (now Nokia Maps), and Shell. He holds a science Ph.D. from MIT. Follow him on Twitter at @arhomberg or @Jellybooks. He also writes a regular DBW column on data and analytics.

data, code, algorithm, publishers, bestsellers, new york times, books

Is It Possible to Predict the Next New York Times Bestseller?

The upcoming book The Bestseller Code is getting a great deal of buzz, forcing many of us to ask the question, Can one genuinely predict what kind of book will become a New York Times bestseller (typically considered the most prestigious bestseller list)? The promise of a formula for predicting a bestseller is getting...

Who’s Afraid of Reader Analytics?

Who’s Afraid of Reader Analytics?

There are authors and publishers who fear reader analytics. This has been a fact since my first presentation on “Project Crowberry” in spring 2014, since followed by Project Honeyberry, Project Apricot, Project Pomegranate and soon Project Honeydew. Reader analytics is going from strength to strength and has been featured in the New York Times...

seo, publishers, google, search, content

Will an Open Web Liberate Reading Data?

At last week’s BEA, it was announced that the IDPF, the standards body for ebooks and responsible for the current EPUB specification, is considering merging with the W3C, the standards body for the web at large. This would mean that instead of having its own standards body for digital books, the publishing industry would...

So Who’s Afraid of Reader Analytics?

Reader Analytics Is No Silver Bullet

The title of this post may surprise some readers. Why is the author, who is the founder of reader analytics company Jellybooks, saying that reader analytics is not a silver bullet that solves all the acquisition, discoverability, marketing and sales problems of publishers? Well, Jellybooks is based on the principles of openness, transparency and...

A New Service to Help Authors Wrangle Reviews

The Great Amazon Page Count Mystery

How Amazon pays authors for work included in Kindle Unlimited (KU) made headlines across the inter-webs recently. Ann Christy’s post “KU Scammers on KU – What’s Going On” even made it on to the homepage of Hacker News. The discussion raises many interesting questions about what reading data Amazon collects and how Amazon uses...

Foreign Rights and Reader Analytics

Foreign Rights and Reader Analytics

Next week the London Book Fair will take place at Olympia in Kensington. This is one of the preeminent events for trading foreign rights in literary works, and I will therefore take the opportunity to discuss foreign rights as it relates to reader analytics this week. Lets have a look at Germany to explore further:...

Should Publishers Rely More on Data or Instinct?

Data Vs. Instinct – The Publisher’s Dilemma

It might as well be time to address the elephant in the room. The pachyderm that is causing fear, uncertainty and doubt among authors, agents and publishers is the prospect of how data, and reading data in particular, may affect the creative process of writing, editing and marketing books. My starting point shall be...

8 Reasons Why People Buy Books

8 Reasons Why People Buy Books

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been reporting on observations that Jellybooks has made about readers after collecting data about when, where and how they read. Do readers rant or rave about books? Do they read fast or slow? Do they even finish the books they begin reading? One of the more interesting phenomena...

social media, authors, sales, books, facebook, twitter

Data-Smart Publishing: New Ways of Working for Publishers

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...

How Does Age Affect Reading Behavior?

How Does Age Affect Reading?

Last week I explored how reading behavior differs between men and women. The analysis was based on observations that Jellybooks made as part of reading analytics studies with publishers that recorded how people read ebooks. This week, we will take a closer look at how a different factor impacts reading: age. Do books have...

Books That Don’t Start Strong Will Lose the Reader

Start Strong or Lose Your Readers

In the first post in this series, I introduced the notion of the “Internet of Bookish Things” to describe how ebooks were now nodes on the Internet that could record how books are being read. And in last week’s post, “Reading Fast and Slow – Observing Book Readers in Their Natural Habitat,” I began...

All About the Internet of Bookish Things

The Internet of Bookish Things

The Internet of Things, or IoT for short, is one of those buzzwords that is making the rounds in Silicon Valley. Earlier this month, many of the electronic gadgets on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas were connected cars, autonomous drones, Internet-connected thermostats (Nest) and others. Sensors and Internet connectivity are...

If You Sell the Book, Will They Read It?

At the IDPF/BE conference in May of this year, Kobo disclosed data that revealed only 60 percent of books purchased are ever opened. And that says nothing about whether they are even finished. Interestingly, the more expensive the book was, the more likely it was the reader would at least start it, though data...

The Fear of Data

Change leads to anxiety, and there has been a lot of change in publishing in recent years. There is one trend, though, that is striking more fears in publishers’ minds than any other. And that is the fear of data. While sales data has been with us for a long time and is used...

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What Code Is Revealing About Readers

There’s a brave new world in book publishing, and it’s being shaped by and around audience insights. Not only are publishers becoming more adept at using data to work smarter, but code and algorithms are also getting better at gathering information and executing tasks without the help of humans. At Jellybooks, we recently developed...

ebook discovery discovery Jellybooks Andrew Rhomberg DBW15

Publish and They Will Come…Right?

We live in an age of abundance, which means discoverability matters more than ever. By some accounts, as many as 1 million new books are being published every year in the English language alone. In addition, readers can choose from a back-catalog over 30 million titles through Amazon, used bookstores, libraries and friends. Readers are spoiled for...

Does the Acquisition of BookLamp Signal Apple’s Entry Into the Ebook Subscription Service Market?

In March of this year, shortly before Apple bought ebook recommendation start-up BookLamp, music subscription champion Spotify made a very similar acquisition. Spotify bought music recommendation service Echonest of Cambridge, MA. for approximately $100 million and with it secured the industry’s leading music recommendation and data mining service. Why? Many think that recommendation services...

Sourcing Books on Wall Street

A company can grow organically (investing in new product, developing new channels to market, improving customer service, in other words innovating) or it can grow by mergers and acquisition (M&A). The oil industry has a name for this — “drilling for oil on Wall Street” — as opposed to investing money into wild catting,...

Discovery, User Experience and the Long Tail

There has recently been some debate as to whether the long tail for ebooks exists: — “Dispelling the Ebook Long Tail Myth” by Marceloa Vena, head of the digital trade book business at Italian publisher RCS Libri — “New Data on the Long Tail Impact” By Mike Shatzkin, industry consultant and Digital Book World...

Crossing the Digital Chasm

This Thursday, UK trade publication “The Bookseller” held its annual Futurebook conference, which was well attended not by book sellers, but by publishers. Of course there were also a motley collection of authors, start-ups and consultants with agents being almost completely absent. Related: What Did UK Publishers Learn This Week? Continue the learning and...

Start-ups, Amazon and Going Outside the Publisher Ecosystem

In a very interesting interview with Jeremy Greenfield, Mike Shatzkin posits that big publishers don’t “need” start-ups. Start-ups in this context means “[high growth] technology start-ups”, as it so often does, because Silicon Valley has crowded out the notion that there other kinds of start-ups (which are sometimes politely referred to as “SMEs” =...

Why Are Ebook Start-ups Dominated by Men?

Related, a thoughtful response to the post below: There’s No Ceiling if You Start at the Top! Women in Digital Publishing and Tech Tim Carmody, who writes for The Verge, noted that high-profile NYC publishing start-up Oyster was built by 8 men and not a single woman. Yes, that’s pretty typical, even though two-thirds...

Netflix for Ebooks or Spotify for Ebooks? Spot the Difference!

Launching an all-you-can-eat access model for ebooks is tough as nails. After all the economics for ebook subscription services are pretty sobering. New York City start-up Oyster launched its take on the “all-you-can-eat” ebook business model this week. It’s team of eight engineers has put together a slick iPhone app with $3 million in...

Is Amazon Asocial?

I recently wrote a post called “Is Amazon Invincible.” It was a bit tongue-in-cheek, because in the long-term no company is invincible. The post was actually an exercise in analyzing Amazon’s formidable strengths, but also in exploring some of the company’s weaknesses. The analysis was strictly focused on book retailing, not the many other...