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Consumer 3.0 – Reading, crowd-sourcing and audience engagement in a digital age [EVENT REPORT]

Suzanne Kavanagh is a strategic market specialist and programme curator working with BookMachine Works and the BookMachine community. She presented on this research at the 8th annual ‘Book Arsenal’ Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, 30th May to 3rd June 2018. Thanks go to the report authors dosdoce.com and sponsors CEDRO as well as the EUNIC project and the British Council who support the Festival.

If you’re a fan of European football and song competitions, you’ll know about Kyiv in Ukraine. Officially founded in 482, by the eleventh century it was the largest city in Europe, bigger even than London or Paris. Today, it’s a mesmerising metropolis of art, architecture, sport and community, Champions League and Eurovision included.

With a metropolitan population of between four and five million people, Kyiv (the official, Ukrainian spelling preferred to the Russian version, Kiev) has an exciting emergent cultural scene. After years of political turmoil, with continuing tensions in the East after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014, there is a growing sense of positive national identity reflected in the theme of the 8th Festival ‘Book Arsenal’ – ‘The Project of the Future’.

The Book Arsenal is a major literature and art festival held in Kyiv at the Mystetskyi Arsenal cultural centre. It brings together 200 Ukrainian writers, 100 overseas guests, 150 publishers, and numerous designers, illustrators and artists for five days of talks, readings, exhibitions and book sales. People were queuing down the road – with their family – to get in.

BookMachine was invited to speak about the ‘New Business Models in the Digital Age’ research, written by dosdoce.com, sponsored by CEDRO, and co-published with us in English. The organisers were particularly keen that publishers attending the professional development programme hear about the impact of user-generated content and proactive ‘pro-sumers’ on publishing models.

Increasing regular internet usage across the EU-28 countries (up from 51% in 2007 to 79% in 2016. Source: Eurostat) alongside wider mobile online access and greater smartphone ownership is having an impact. ‘Millennials’ and ‘Generation Z’ are key players in evolving online behaviours. Using online tools for content creation, sharing, promotion and proactive support via crowd funding are transforming how authors get published, the formats used and the publishing process overall.

Proactive consumers want to share their experiences, their own lives, and preferences. As spending on media entertainment and digital products goes up, so do opportunities for publishers to collaborate with this new generation of ‘Consumer 3.0’.

Digital business models that support this new, more interactive relationship between author or content creator, producer and the reader include:

  • Micropayments/fragmented content
  • Pay per use, streaming or pay per view, or pay what you want
  • Subscription through to membership
  • Freemium, premium and embedded advertising models
  • Peer to peer or Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs) platforms
  • Open access
  • Bundling
  • Crowdfunding
  • Gamification reward-based model to gain data/insight
  • Self-publishing
  • Slice and dice of content to personalise.

Interesting projects have been launched by larger publishers and technology platform providers. However, some of the most exciting and innovative ideas have recently come from smaller companies and start-ups. The following case studies were of particular interest to the Ukrainian publishers at the festival.

Make Our Book

An online service that allows children in school to become published authors. Pupils work with teachers to develop a theme, create content (words, pictures), upload online, plan, edit and proofread, ready to submit. Make Our Book offer a range of models: freemium digital-only option, self-publishing platform to sell on to family and friends, and crowdfunding to raise funds. The results? Beautiful books created by and for the school family, an incredible way to engage children in reading, writing and the publishing process, and the opportunity to tick lots of educational/school management boxes! www.makeourbook.com

Lounge Books

The ultimate ‘home from home’ for today’s proactive reader-come-recommender, Lounge Books helps subscribers find books they love from the many thousands published each year. It includes information on all the literary prizes (from literary to fan fiction) as well as curated lists from book bloggers, agents, writers and publishers on a range of genres. Founded by passionate book advocate, Sam Missingham, it’s a great way of getting more books into the hands of people. www.lounge-books.com

Mostly Lit Podcast

The Mostly Lit team (Alex Reads, Raifa Rafiq and Derek Owusu) are on a mission to debunk the duller myths around books and reading as a solitary, quiet pastime. Named as one of the BBC’s and The Guardian’s podcasts of 2017, they explore the intersection between literature, media and pop culture on a weekly basis. They want to inspire anyone and everyone to read and engage with books. www.mostly-lit.com

Unbound – crowdfunding for publishing

Unbound is the crowdfunding/publishing platform that has helped some of highest-profile books of the last two years become a reality (read this round-up on crowd-sourcing here and interview with Unbound founder John Mitchinson here). The premise is simple: they provide crowdsourcing/funding support you can get from the likes of Kickstarter AND help out with production and distribution of the physical book. It’s the perfect way for engaged and proactive readers to support projects that mean the most to them.

While print publishing isn’t going anywhere, it’s clear that a new era of co-creation, production and promotion is emerging. It’s an exciting time to be a reader, writer and publisher and low cost online tools mean any size of publisher can experiment and collaborate with a whole new generation of Consumer 3.0.

Read the full ‘New Business Models in the Digital Age’ report here.

Read about Kyiv’s 8th Book Arsenal festival here.

Watch an interview about the talk on Ukrainian International TV here.

Read more about Ukraine’s recent history here.

Find information on visiting Kyiv here.

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