Tag: apps

Innovative publishing for people who have visual impairments

It’s entirely possible that you won’t have heard of Calibre and yet this organisation is a key part of the publishing supply chain for thousands of adults and children in the UK and EU.

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Interview with Sam Baker, co-founder of The Pool and Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2017 judge

Sam Baker has spent 20 years in magazine journalism, editing some of the UK’s biggest magazines, including Just Seventeen, Cosmopolitan and Red. In 2015, she co-founded and launched The Pool, with broadcaster Lauren Laverne, with a mission to celebrate and amplify women’s voices. An award-winning digital platform for women that has been described as redefining women’s media, The Pool was recently awarded Best Mobile Lifestyle Site/App at the Webbys (also known as the highest honour the internet can bestow). Here Norah Myers interviews Sam about The Pool and her role as a judge for the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

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Startup Snapshot: Squirl

Jef Van der Avoort is co-founder of Squirl, the first location-based book discovery app. Previously he helped brands like LEGO, Philips and Hasbro to create engaging experiences on the border between the analog and digital world.

1) What exactly is Squirl?

Squirl is a location-based book discovery app that lets you bump into the real-world settings from books (e.g. The Plaza Hotel in the Great Gatsby). You can read the excerpt that takes place right where you are standing and check in to the literary location. You may also click through to buy the book. In essence, we are building an augmented story layer on top of the world.

2) What problem does it solve?

Book discovery is the number one issue for authors and publishers. We want to level the playing field by turning the whole world into a bookstore. The places you pass by become portals into different worlds, no matter if it is from a book by a first-time indie author or a bestselling superstar. It is a new, engaging and serendipitous way to discover your next read.

3) Who is your target market?

The casual reader is very important to us. These are people who read 2 or 3 books a year and are mostly overlooked when it comes to publishing tech. Discovering new books is not on top of their list, but they are interested in stories that are relevant to them. Through this geographic relevance we can excite these readers to buy a book they might not have discovered in any other way.

4) What results do you hope to see over the next few years?

Our first tangible goal is to see a book rise to the New York Times bestseller list because it was discovered through Squirl. On a more macro-level, we would like authors and publishers to see Squirl next to social marketing platforms like Twitter and Goodreads.

5) What will be next for Squirl?

We are very excited with the positive reception we are receiving and we already have some Squirl fans. We are currently raising a seed round to build some great features and advance Squirl to continue to enhance the experience for both readers and authors.

Smart phones: Changing the rules of the game

Jacob CockcroftJacob Cockcroft is Co-Founder and CEO of The Pigeonhole, a made-for-mobile digital book club, serialising their books in installments delivered straight to a reader’s virtual bookshelf on the iOS app or website. Here he writes on mobile reading and making digital work for your company.

E-books are on the decline. Digital reading is only for romance novels. Waterstone’s no longer sells Kindle eReaders. Excellent, publishers can go back to business as usual. The physical book has prevailed.

Well, OK, if you want to misread the tea leaves. The inescapable truth is that there will be 2.5 billion smart phone users by 2019, all potential readers. The largest industry oversight is a distinct separation between physical and digital reading, with digital being the cheaper, dirty cousin. There is a tally for physical sales and a tally for digital sales, count up the points and see who wins.

This simplicity fails to understand how mobile phones are hard coded into people’s daily routine, behavior and psychology. They are the single most important discovery tool for anything: holidays, clothes, kettles, and of course books, but this discovery tool could be so much more efficient, if used properly. The art is to exploit the opportunities smart phones provide and, most importantly, to use data driven analytics to hone the message. This is something physical books simply can’t offer (in much the same way that digital books can’t bring the touch, feel and smell of a physical book).

Interaction, sociability, discoverability, immediacy, pinpoint targeting, measurable ROI. View digital reading through a marketing lens and it can bring you all these things. But it has to be fun; it has to compete with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat on the home screen of every IOS or Android device. This is the business of habit-forming products, of providing that 10-15 minute hit of endorphins as someone breastfeeds, or waits for the tube, or a friend to turn up in a bar.

This is the battle that we wage at the Pigeonhole. We are building dynamic reading experiences, something to take part in, to feel as though you are on a collective journey with others, discovering the most exciting books of the moment. It’s not enough to just pipe content onto a phone and expect people to churn through hours of turgid reading, the temptations of the other apps are just too great, even for those with the best intentions. There is no great mystery as to why digital completion rates for traditional reading apps are so low.

You have to make it FUN. Satisfying. Exciting. Challenging. This is all possible, more than possible, it’s real. All of our publishing partners have given their experience the thumbs up, and over half who respond to our surveys would actively recommend the Pigeon to fellow readers. It is still early days (we have a community of over 12,000 users and our Android app is coming in September) but we are getting closer and closer to perfecting the experience.

And it is the author who benefits from us more then anyone. Many publishers are acutely aware that they aren’t delivering for their authors on the marketing front; they just don’t have the bandwidth. Our partnerships solve this, giving the author a direct line to their readers, creating genuine buzz around the book across social media, and facilitating those reviews on Amazon and Goodreads to boost the all-important algorithms. In turn, this drives the sales of physical books through direct click-throughs from our site to Amazon and both online and offline word of mouth.

We are the ultimate content marketing platform, using the most powerful thing you can – the book itself. Our serialisations allow any book to fit into any life, whilst offering a structured framework for conversations to play out through between the author and their readers

In this way, digital becomes part of an integrated strategy for the promotion of a book, driving discoverability, author profiles, digital sales and physical sales. Posters on the tube are great, but pound for pound, displays in the Facebook newsfeed of keen readers can be much more powerful. With a holistic strategy like this you really can fulfill the potential digital reading provides.

So my message: Don’t be scared of digital and don’t turn your back on it. You just need to be smarter, more creative and ambitious with it.

vintage

How to build a community: Interview with Will Rycroft

Will Rycroft is Community Manager at VINTAGE, and speaker at our next event, ‘How to build a community‘, on the 18th May. VINTAGE books have over 80,000 Twitter followers and over 250,000 fans on Facebook, so it’s quite the community. Here Norah Myers interviews Will to learn more..

1) Why was it important to include a podcast as part of Vintage’s community?

Audio has been growing in importance for several years now and podcasts and audio books have never been so popular or easy to download. The intimacy of the listening experience means it’s a really effective way of communicating about our books. We knew that we had a range of writers and books that would allow us to create brilliant monthly podcasts involving interviews and readings but also stimulating content like cocktail making, food and location-specific recordings. All of this is to show the diversity of VINTAGE’s publishing and also our place as part of a wider cultural conversation.

2) How have you seen Vintage’s offline community – book launches, literary events – grow as a result of the online conversation?

Social media has allowed us to live-tweet events so that people could get an idea of how amazing they can be (this enhanced even further when they see tweets from other people there too). We’ve definitely seen our online community keen to meet us and each other offline and when we trialed a literary walk in London last year, with no idea if anyone would turn up, we were thrilled to see so many join us. We’ll be doing even more VINTAGE Walks this year.

3) Which social media platform has been the most effective for engaging conversation? Why?

Twitter, without a doubt. That’s how the platform is set up really and our approach on there is all about starting and participating in conversation. The fact you’re communicating in real-time, to multiple people but without a clogged feed, means it’s perfectly suited. We’re not there to sell books directly; we’re there to share our passion for them. Even things like the new polling feature can help stimulate conversation and engagement.

4) Why does using visual content in posts – GIFs and pictures – increase engagement?

People love to share things on social media so if you have a gorgeous picture of your books, or a scene to share, then your followers are more likely to share it to theirs. I love GIFs, mainly because they make me laugh and can communicate several things at the same time. They also allow you to reference films, music and popular culture whilst talking about your books. If you imagine someone scrolling through their feed, what posts do you think are going to stand out: text-only or those with a picture, GIF or video?

5) How should social media managers prepare themselves to use new apps and platforms?

Don’t rush in with your brand account. Download new apps and platforms and try them out personally first. Follow other accounts to see what they’re doing and keep an eye out to see what works and what doesn’t. Beware of spreading yourself too thin however. New apps and platforms seem to launch every week and very few of those that break through are attracting lots of users a few months down the line. We concentrate our energies on the main platforms whilst keeping an eye on those that might fit us in the future.

6) What is the best publishing-specific advice you could give to social media managers?

Keep it authentic. People can spot a phony (and will relish the opportunity to point it out!). When it comes to books, the readers you’re talking to will be passionate and fervent so you have to know your stuff – if you get something wrong they WILL tell you. But generally, as long as you’re communicating who you are, what you stand for and doing so with belief, you can’t be wrong. Unless you’re actually wrong of course.

Will Rycroft seeks to engage the reading community wherever they are with his passion for books. He commissions and creates digital content for VINTAGE’s social media channels and the new Penguin consumer website. You can follow his musings on Twitter, his vlog on YouTube and hear him interviewing authors and more on the VINTAGE Podcast.

Publishing partnerships: Joining forces to conquer the industry

Publishing partnerships are becoming increasingly popular due to the need for diversification in an industry that requires a broader range of skills and knowledge in order to get ahead. The merging of two companies can allow for more skills across more sectors for each party in the game of publishing.

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Companion publishing: How digital can complement print

The beauty of the web is that feedback for what I write here is spread across a variety of platforms. These days it seems most of those community discussions are happening on LinkedIn and that’s where some recent comments helped me see the common thread across a few different topics I’ve been writing about.

A couple of weeks ago I noted how Nielsen data indicates a large chunk (49%) of ebook readers are also still buying print. In other words, almost half the reading community surveyed by Nielsen is straddling the fence between print and digital.

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Two tick-boxes for app success

This is a Guest Post by Laura Cremer, Digital Manager at Octopus Publishing Group. Laura has been shortlisted for the FutureBook ‘Digital Achiever of the Year’ Award 2015. Two of Octopus’s apps have also been shortlisted for FutureBook Awards. Here she gives us the lowdown on the reasons for their success.

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The next 5 years of publishing: on connecting audiences to stories [OPINION]

In the run up to tonight’s event, Publishing: the next 5 years, BookMachine has been featuring a number of opinions about what might be next for the industry. This is a guest blog from Nicola Borasinski. Nicky is the Digital Development Assistant at Penguin Random House. She is a former MA student at Queen Mary University of London. During her MA she focused her research on the relationship children have with print and digital media and is currently working on digital products for amazing brands like Peppa Pig and Roald Dahl. 

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5 Questions for Sophie Kahan [INTERVIEW]

sophieSophie Kahan has a great job. She is the Manager of Publisher Promotions at KOBO. As part of her role, she develops eBook promotions for retailers such as Indigo Books & Music, Kobo’s award-winning eReaders and apps. She also partakes in events including Book Expo America and the London Book Fair. Tahira Rahemtulla interviews Sophie, ahead of her talk at BookMachine Toronto.

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Design teacher, Andrew Buck, creates revision app [INTERVIEW]

Andy Buck

Andrew Buck is a Graphic Design teacher at Hastingsbury Upper School in Bedfordshire. He and his design students have created an app that is hopefully going to transform the way students can prepare and succeed when it comes to the dreaded exam season. Whilst the app isn’t necessarily linked to Publishers, it’s an interesting app and has come from identifying a real need in the market. I asked him more about ExamPal, how they’ve priced the app, how he got the attention of Apple and what he thinks about technology in the classroom.

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Bardowl launches streaming audiobook subscription service

Bardowl App Icon In a move that will either be hailed as bringing publishing in line with the demands of a perma-streaming society or derided as pandering to a generation increasingly unaccustomed to having to pay for entertainment, Bath company Bardowl has launched a Spotify-style service allowing users to listen to as many audiobooks as they like for a fixed monthly fee of £9.99. Accessed via a free app for iPhone and iPad, subscribers are able to stream any of the company’s library of audiobooks on the go, with unlimited access to all available titles.

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