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The second thought is really a looking-at-it-backwards inversion of one Martyn’s comments in his blog post Create Digital First:
…we are the start of a digital consumer offer but it is…based on yesterday’s physical cost model, processes and perceptions. Merely taking the finished book and generating a digital rendition that mirrors the physical one is what music did with CDs. Is it logical to merely replicate the book and create just another rendition? We don’t envisage the same demand change as music experienced in selling just fragments (tracks), but it is possible to see the selling of instalments or part works, where all the complete ‘book’ may not be bought.
Or looking at this another way, couldn’t the book be the fragment? I wrote a little while ago about the idea of extensibility, that books could be surrounded by, in William Gibson’s words, a ‘quasi-spectral hypertext’ that extends the frame of the text beyond the information contained only on the page. This is the kind of thing Harlequin are beginning to explore with their Enriched Editions.
So if consumers are open to new pricing models and new ways of configuring book content, especially fragments and parts of works, doesn’t it also stand to reason that the basic text of a book could be the fragment, and consumers pay a premium for enriched versions that have value-adds? This would bring it more into line with the DVD retail model of included special extras in limited editions. It would also help publishers to differentiate between general retail audiences and niche fan audiences.
Whoa, lots of thoughts and ideas prompted by Martyn Daniels’ blog post Create Digital First.
It’s the consumer perception that really counts; after all they pay at the end of the day. Do we know or understand their perceptions on digital pricing, or do we assume we know their views? The UK’s Book Marketing company, have stared to extend their highly respected services to cover digital consumer trends, but is it enough, and are we all contributing, listening and responding to any findings?
First thought is that if an Australian digital publishing taskforce is looking for project to take on this would be one of them. It was pretty clear from our first meeting that publishers are a competitive lot (as they should be) and keep their projects and intel under tight wraps until they’re ready to go public. But market research about consumer perceptions and expectations is data from which we can all benefit. It would be an expensive burden on any one company but might go better as a shared resource.
Hey neato! I was just on the Tools of Change blog and realised that they’ve now released a series of DVDs aimed at publishers needing to develop knoweldge and understanding of the future of publishing.
The set includes four DVDs covering:
- digitising your backlist
- making mobile work
- XML for publishers
- search engine optimisation for publishers
They’re a little pricey for me to get the whole set but then I’m not really the target audience. However, I’d love to see some additional topics covered, particularly marketing and promotion (the DVD on search would delve into this a little bit). I also wonder how a similar offering might be targeted at authors and self-publishers.
More from HarperCollins, this time some sweet data on the results of their recent experiements with “free”.
Publishers Weekly reported that at recent panels at BEA and the IDPF Digital Book conference HarperCollins shared the results of digital giveaway campaigns they did with books by Neil Gaiman, Erin Hunter and Robin Hobb.
Here’s the skinny:
Promotion for: Neil Gaiman’s American Gods
- Content given away: Full access to the book, through the company’s Browse Inside feature
- Number of page views generated: 3,827,306
- Average page views per visit: 46
- Number of clicks on a buy link: 1,177
- Result: Promotion bumped weekly sales of the title at bricks-and-mortar locations by 250%.
Promotion for: Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things
- Content given away: DRM-free audio download of Gaiman’s short story “A Study in Emerald” to promote the collection Fragile Things
- Result: Promotion didn’t drive registration and, according to Harper, “readers bypassed our up-sell efforts” because content was “too easy to take and run.”
Promotion for: Erin Hunter’s Warriors, Volume 3
- Content given away: Browse Inside preview of 20% of the book
- Result: Preorders of the book increased 30%.
Promotion for: Robin Hobb’s Shaman’s Crossing
- Content given away: Full e-book (downloadable with DRM and registration)
- Result: Same-title and backlist sales of Hobb’s e-books increased.
The results are interesting and certainly seem to indicate the value of offering free open-access trials of content to entice people to buy the book. I hope more publishers will be willing to share data for the benefit of the industry.
Frankly, book reading just isn’t important enough to qualify for priority treatment in that marketplace. E-book readers to date have been either badly made, expensive, out-of-stock or some combination of all three. No one’s making dedicated e-book readers in such quantity that the price drops to the cost of a paperback — the cost at which the average occasional reader may be tempted to take a flutter on one. Certainly, these things aren’t being made in such quantity that they’re being folded in as freebies with the Sunday paper or given away at the turnstiles at a ballgame to the majority of people who are non-book-readers.
Meanwhile, handheld game consoles, phones, and other multipurpose devices have found their way into the hands of people from every walk of life. In some countries, mobile phone penetration is above 100 percent — that is, a significant proportion of the population maintain more than one phone, for example, a work cellular and a home cellular.
This dovetails with what I was saying about convergence the other day, and my firm belief that it’s not going to be a device that tips e-books. When next generation mobile phones are ubiquitous, and can play my music, videos, games, deliver my emails and texts, display my photos, store my documents and provide internet searches (oh, and make phone calls), why would I want to pay US$300 for something that only reads books? In Australia, it’s even more daunting than that – Dymocks wants me to pay a whopping AUD$900 for an iLiad. I both understand and applaud their push into the e-book space, and let’s face it, without publisher and retailer support, it’s hard to see consumer take-up of e-books at all. But to me, convenient, affordable and easy access to content (masses of content) will attract me faster if I don’t also have to purchase, configure and get comfortable with yet another gadget.