Blog Post

Why digital book publishers are starting to embrace data

With more than 20 percent of Americans over the age of 16 having read an ebook in the past year, and publishers seeing more than 20 percent of revenues come from ebook sales, there’s no question the future of ebooks is bright, and the industry has a lot of potential customers.

But how exactly ebook publishers reach that audience and how the industry tracks who’s interested in reading what is less clear. A series of ebook publishers who spoke at our PaidContent Live conference in New York on Wednesday talked about the critical importance of gathering data on readership and consumption, and using it to transform the industry:

“The old eveolution of the book publishers used to be very allergic to data. And what you just heard is a very different approach from that. For us it’s about metadata and surfacing. And then rinse and repeat,” said Dominique Raccah, the publisher and CEO of Sourcebooks. “Metadata is a new term in our industry, but it really is the key.”

Raccah pointed out that unless publishers know who is reading the content, it’s hard to craft specific marketing messages or know what people respond to:

“It’s really important to know that book publishers know a lot about what touches readers,” she said. “So it’s important to help craft those messages in interesting ways.”

Rachel Chou, the CMO for Open Road Integrated Media, said they’ve seen a lot of success working with Twitter, as well as sponsored stories in Facebook, to drive traffic and understand where customers are coming from.

“Then after a while, you start understanding what the best partners are,” she said.

Evan Ratliff, founder and CEO of Atavist, said they have a small team but because they’re especially focused on finding customers by building up the Atavist brand, understanding data on the company’s products is important.

“We’re also on a very small level, we’re experiment with different ways of reaching people and social media,” he said.

Check out the rest of our paidContent Live 2013 coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:

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A transcription of the video follows on the next page

7 Responses to “Why digital book publishers are starting to embrace data”

  1. Michael Cairns

    The comment by Dominique has to be out of context. To suggest that metadata is a new concept for publishers is simply wrong. Companies like Bowker and Baker & Taylor have been producing metadata databases such as books in print for over 100 years. Publishers began producing metadata (in print) the moment they began producing their catalogs which was where Bowker and others first compiled their database products. Certainly, it is true, that publishers (generally) do not spend enough time on their metadata but the concept and theory of metadata is by no means a new idea. (and internet retailing generally) raised awareness of metadata but more than 15yrs have elapsed since then. Metadata for publishers is not a new concept. A far more interesting take on data is the insight publishers are starting to get to consumer behavior which is a direct result of online retailing and more frequent direct interactions with readers and buyers. Sophisticated publishers such as Sourcebooks will gain real advantage if they can harness this raw data and turn it into business intelligence. Perhaps that’s what Dominique meant.

  2. Interesting. As an ebook self publisher it is difficult to find the data, especially as sales are through the big online sellers. Some sources on where and how to mine this data would be useful.

  3. Robin Solis

    SpotMagic, Inc. has a well-tested delivery technology that can be used for several vertical markets. One is e-publishing. It has a product that needs a little development but it can translate one e-book into different languages on the fly. They are savvy marketers too if you want to roundtable about how to implement.