Tag: data

How to get GDPR-ready

Whether or not you’re ready, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is coming. With only 26 weeks left before implementation there is much more that can (and should be) done by publishers and authors, not least mapping what ‘personal’ data you have. This can mean anything from actual names to associated data that can identify an individual. In over simplistic terms think three things that you should be able to answer if an individual or ICO were to ask you:
  1. What personal data have you got on each individual?
  2. Why have you got it?
  3. What are you going to do with it?

Continue reading

Self-employed in publishing

Observing the audience: how reader analytics are influencing the industry

Reader analytics are garnering huge attention at the moment and there are at least four major talks at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair discussing how and why publishers and authors can collect data on their readers. But with reader analytics taking the spotlight in publishing, the debate over the ethics of data harvesting and its uses has been brought to our doorstep.

Consensual data is happy data

The big issues around data harvesting are not just what information businesses and official organisations are collecting about us, it’s whether or not they’re doing it with our consent. For once, however, publishing is ahead of the curve on getting this one right. Although big boys like Amazon remain the mysterious bastions of data collection they’ve always been, smaller companies specialising in reader analytics are proving to be honest, open and respectful about harvesting data. For example, Jellybooks use “reading campaigns” for as-yet unreleased books to provide information to publishers, in a similar way that a screen test would for a film studio. Jellybooks gathers data from readers who have volunteered to be monitored and received a free digital copy of the campaign book, which is clearly marked, so that the reader remembers they’re being observed. What’s more, while Jellybooks have said that “though in principle [non-anonymised] data could be provided to the author or publisher” they do not give it. Despite some rumours, Jellybooks also does not gather data by measuring eye-movement, but by observing how the reader interacts with their app as they read. Jellybooks, and most reader analytics collectors, are more interested in the time of day consumers read, how long they read for, when they highlight or perform searches on text, and the operating system, device or browser being used. These are added to information the reader voluntarily provides, such as gender and age. When working with companies like Jellybooks, publishers don’t need to feel compromised about using this data: it’s not an invasion, it’s a gift!

Data driven decisions

But why is data such hot property in the first place? Some have wondered – both in horror and hope – that reader analytics might effect the editorial process, but Jellybooks has said that this misunderstands how people read and the kind of data reader analytics can collect: “Readers judge a book as a whole based on storyline, language, characters, plot, etc. and not on individual chapters.” Though the data can be utilised in this way, knowing that “x” number of people dropped off at page 57 is not necessarily helpful to an author or a publisher. Excitingly, what reader analytics can provide are evidence-based assessments of how a book is likely to perform in the market. Data on completion rates and recommendations gathered during the commissioning stage, for example, can help reduce the risk inherent in signing new books by indicating whether or not a book might be popular. Later in the publishing process, analytics can also help marketing departments figure out how much budget to assign to their titles, what their audience looks like and how to find them – are they young or old, male or female? Do they binge-read on beach holidays, meaning you should get WHSmith Travel on board, or do they dip in on their on their commute to work, meaning you can grab them with a poster on the tube? Best of all, this data is available via third-party companies like Jellybooks, meaning that although publishers have to pay fees for their data, they don’t need to make the huge investments in building platforms and software that was previously required. This information is more easily available to publishers than ever before.

Scratching the surface

Reader analytics still clearly has its limits and they may never become a magic wand for book sales, but the truth is that the possibilities for using this data are only just starting to be explored. Moreover, the software for collecting this data are still in its – albeit impressive – infancy. Looking ahead there is talk of Jellybooks developing some kind of “FitBit for books,” which will take retail copies of books into account as well as the pre-sales titles currently available. Others claim that one day soon we will be able to use data to predict the next big bestseller. There can be no arguing that data harvesting is here to stay. The only, opportunity-filled question remains: how else are we going to use it?  

Here’s where innovative publishers need to focus

There are a number of key attributes successful publishers will be known for in the future. These core capabilities will be very different from the ones that have led to the modern empires of the Big Five. Some attributes will remain the same, of course. For example, it will always be crucial for publishers to acquire, develop and produce excellent content. But the services and capabilities that surround and complement the acquire/develop/produce core are what will matter most. With that in mind, here’s my short list of what will separate tomorrow’s publishing leaders from all the rest:

1) Being data-driven

Remember the old days when Ingram data was the only source of industry-wide sell-through information? Then Bookscan hit the scene and it felt like we moved from the Stone Age to the Information Age. I’m not talking about this kind of data. Bookscan and other retailer sell-through numbers are lagging indicators. They represent what happened yesterday, last week or last month. The successful publisher of tomorrow wants to know what’s happening right now and where the trends are leading. Real-time website analytics, heat maps, email open/click-thru rates…that’s where the actionable data can be found today but most book publishers treat them as secondary information sources at best. A publisher who thinks they’re data-driven today might adjust plans for a book scheduled to publish six months from now based on sell-through data they studied from last month. Tomorrow’s data-driven publisher will alter the free content on their website this afternoon based on information they gathered this morning.

2) Breaking free of containers

Why are publishers focused on lagging indicators? Because they’re stuck in the era of containers. They’re producing books, magazines or newspapers and they measure everything based on those containers. It may not be obvious but the container model is slowly fading away. Please don’t misinterpret this. I’m not saying books are going away. Print books will still be produced for a long, long time. But the way content is being consumed is shifting to a more digital, container-less model. Think about that last bit of content you read on your phone. Did you care whether it was originally produced for a newspaper, a magazine, a blog, a website or a newsletter? Probably not. What mattered most is that the content covered a topic that matters to you. Innovative publishers need to think more about highly relevant content streams rather than content containers.

3) Direct-to-consumer (D2C)

I vividly recall talking five years ago with a Big Six executive about the importance of creating a vibrant direct-to-consumer channel. She rolled her eyes and said they’d never do that because they prefer to let their retail partners handle the consumer connection. I feel somewhat validated now as I see that same publisher experimenting more and more with D2C. It’s not just about capturing all the revenue. The data and resulting opportunities to do some very powerful things with that data are what make D2C such an important model. That, and the fact that you become less reliant on middlemen who control your destiny, ought to be reason enough to focus on D2C.

4) Owning and leveraging the list

The most important piece of data every publisher should own is the customer name and email address. This is what makes D2C so special. Securing names and emails isn’t as easy as simply making a sale. You’ve got to earn the consumer’s trust by having them opt in to your future marketing campaigns. Too many publishers who have built a D2C channel simply become data hoarders, gathering names and emails but never doing much with them.

5) Building the funnel

One of the biggest reasons publishers don’t go direct is that they feel they’re unable to attract enough traffic to make it worthwhile. That’s because they’re not applying the funnel model. You start by offering plenty of outstanding free content on your site. Once visitors arrive and they like what they read you have the opportunity to connect with them via free newsletters, for example; rather than waiting and hoping they come back, offer to continue sending outstanding content right to their email inbox. Part of this step includes asking them to opt in for other offers and information from you. As the funnel narrows from top to bottom, you’re leading these consumers along a path loaded with all your terrific content, some of it free and some of it paid. This isn’t for everyone. For example, the Big Five are simply too reliant on the existing ecosystem, unwilling to risk alienating certain channel partners and built upon a very rigid container-based creation and distribution model. The Big Five will remain large, just like B&N and Borders did for many years after Amazon arrived. But then Borders went away and in order to survive B&N evolved from a bookstore to a gift shop. The smaller players though, the ones who focus on a particular topic, vertical or audience are the publishers who are best positioned to embrace the attributes described above. And as they do they’ll find themselves in a far better world with a direct connection to customers and the ability to serve those customers with more than just one or two types of container-driven content. Joe WikertJoe Wikert is director of strategy and business development at Olive Software. This post was originally published on his blog, ‘Joe Wikert’s Digital Content Strategies‘, where he writes opinion pieces on the rich content future of publishing.
bookmetrix logo

Startup snapshot: Bookmetrix

Martijn RoelandseMartijn Roelandse was a publishing editor at Bohn Stafleu van Loghum, a Dutch Springer subsidiary, and later for Springer. Since 2015 he has been working as Manager of Publishing Innovation to develop new projects. One of those is Bookmetrix, a platform developed by Springer and Altmetric that offers a comprehensive overview of the impact of a book.

1) What exactly is Bookmetrix?

Developed in partnership between Springer and Altmetric, Bookmetrix is the first platform of its kind to offer integrated traditional and non-traditional metrics for books and chapters. Designed to give authors, editors and readers easy access to this combined data all in one place for the first time, Bookmetrix helps to set a new standard for monitoring and reporting the activity surrounding a book post-publication. It’s picking up notice, too. It was announced as a finalist for the 2015 ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing and the 2016 Quantum Publishing Innovation Award.

2) What problem does it solve?

Up until recently, book authors and editors would be updated on an annual basis on the downloads of their ebook. As many books are not indexed in either Scopus or in Thomson Reuters Book Citation Index, authors knew very little about the impact and reach of their book. We think the story behind a book isn’t finished when it’s published; a book and chapters, like journal articles, are discussed both in the academic realm and in society. We therefore now offer book and chapter level metrics for all our 200,000+ books and 3,600,000+ chapters. For each one of them, if available, you can find citations, online mentions, Mendeley readers, downloads and reviews. If you are interested in the story behind Bookmetrix, do read this excellent blog post from Altmetric’s Jean Liu.

3) Who is your target market?

The scope of Bookmetrix is wider than existing initiatives in the market: it covers substantially more books and goes beyond pure citation data. Bookmetrix dovetails with Springer’s ambition to drive more industry-wide initiatives to support the work of authors and researchers.

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

Ultimately we hope to solve two problems. First, recognition is needed for the work of authors of books and chapters, just like authors of articles. Especially in humanities and social sciences, publishing books is the modus operandi for communicating with peers, but they are often not included in research evaluations. Second, people should stop judging books by their covers. Bookmetrix helps readers identify the right book for them within a discipline, high-impact ones with many citations, very useful ones with many downloads, or ones that are highly discussed online with many mentions. The choice is theirs.

5) What will be next for Bookmetrix?

At The London Book Fair this year we launched a first pilot with another scholarly publisher, Brill, to offer Bookmetrix for their books. In addition, we will be adding new features and functionalities to Bookmetrix over the next few months, so stay tuned!
crowdfunding

It’s all gone a bit dead: 6 steps for reviving a stalled crowdfunding campaign

Jimmy Leach is, amongst other things, head of crowdfunding at Unbound. Here are his 6 steps for reevaluating and reviving a crowdfunding campaign. It happens to everyone, to some degree. All crowdfunding campaigns – for books, apps, watches, whatever – all follow the same kind of pattern. A spike at launch, a spike at the end which gets them over the line – and, at some point, a plateau in the middle. But what to do when the campaign never gets off the plateau, when the whole project becomes marooned? Obviously, the first point to make is that a lengthy fallow period can be avoided. There is no magic bullet to any crowdfunding campaign, other than the fact that activity begets pledges. In other words – if you stop, so will the pledges. But let’s say, that you’re doing plenty and still the pledges have dried up. What next?

1) Look at your messages

What are you saying to people? Are you getting the tone wrong, too blatantly asking for money? Are you explaining the project badly? Many a good project has stalled due to bad communications. Get someone you trust, someone who can be honest with you, to check over the messages you’re sending and see if they ‘feel’ right. Next: Look at what you saying to people and get a second opinion – then re-write.

2) Look at your platforms

Where are you asking for support? In email? On social media? With a quill on vellum? The best campaigns are a mix of media and platforms, but they often concentrate more on one-to-one communication (usually via email) than the one-to-many of, say, Twitter. When I see a failing campaign, I often see a project reliant on a few tweets here and there – and that only gets you so far. Next: Make sure you’re on the platforms which suit your readers, rather than suits you. And, almost certainly, make personalise emails a bigger part of the mix.

3) Look at your audiences

Are you targeting the right people? Most books have two audiences – people who want to support the author and people who want to read about the topic (which can make some fiction harder to fund). Many authors are too reticent about asking their personal networks and not sure where the subject networks are. The first needs chutzpah, the second needs research. Next: Shamelessly dig deep on the the audience of people you know, and put the work in to find the people you don’t.

4) Look at your energy levels

I’m a big fan of the elastoplast model for funding. A short, sharp burst of frenzied activity is better than dragging it out for months. To get a book funded, you should schedule some time every day, be contacting a good number of people each time to make sure those numbers keep ticking over. Next: Remember when you used to schedule your revision and teachers would tell you to ‘make sure you do something every day’? That.

5) Engage

Reticence is a big problem with crowdfunding. Now is the time, as one author put it to me, to ‘unleash your inner American’. That means emailing people you haven’t spoken to in a while, replying to Twitter replies and Facebook posts. The more you talk to people, the more they become involved in the project. Blog about your book and the processes behind producing it. Without being too cheesy, take people on your journey. The people who read that will become your advocates. Next: While writing is a solitary experience, crowdfunding isn’t. Gird your loins and get sociable.

6) Monitor

Observe what’s working – and repeat it. Watch what doesn’t work – and stop doing it. It sounds obvious, but so many authors blithely assume they know what works, and are shocked when the data comes in. Next: Look at the data on your project page (any decent platform will show that to project owners), and learn from it. In short, if your campaign is flagging, it’s time for some honesty as to what is not quite working. Take the time to take your campaign apart a little, examine the parts and shine them up a  bit. Then re-assemble on your way to 100%… Thanks to Norah Myers for sourcing this guest post. 
website

Commissioning an effective publisher website

Simon Appleby is the Managing Director of Bookswarm, the only digital agency in the UK dedicated to delivering projects for publishers, authors and others in the world of books. I’ve been working on websites for publishers since 2007, and I’ve delivered projects for publishing houses large and small. I’ve learned a lot along the way, and I can safely say that the most important decisions for publishers all need to be made long before any work is done on design or development.

Continue reading

Content is no longer king. Here are 5 things that are.

This is a guest post by Nick Robinson. Nick has worked in ELT publishing since 2004 and in 2012 he founded the world’s first ELT author representation agency. He is the Co-founder of the IATEFL Materials Writing Special Interest Group (MaWSIG) and ELTjam.

Continue reading

Seek permission before reproducing something

Tom ChalmersTom Chalmers is Managing Director at IPR License. The writer Charles Caleb Colton once said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but in reality that’s not always true, and I’m not just referring to the mocking of Craig David from the old Bo’ Selecta days. In publishing imitation can often be more aligned with litigation than flattery, especially when you throw that dreaded word plagiarism into the mix.

Continue reading

Get the latest news and event info straight to your inbox

Account


+44 203 040 2298

6 Mitre Passage, Digital Greenwich - 10th Floor, Greenwich Peninsula, SE10 0ER

© 2019 BookMachine We love your books