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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: Exact Editions

exact editionsHaving spent the past decade turning complex consumer magazines into their precise digital doppelgangers, Exact Editions launched their new digital books service in May. Here we interviewed Adam Hodgkin, Chairman and Co-Founder of Exact Editions

1) What exactly is Exact Editions?

Exact Editions is a platform for publishing and licensing content on the web and through apps to individuals and institutions. Exact Editions helps publishers by delivering services which generate subscriptions.

2) What problem does it solve?

Exact Editions 2The Exact Editions platform ensures that digital publications look exactly the same as their print sisters; and it does this in a way which is efficient for searching and sharing. Exact Editions uses PDF files to build a database for each publication on the platform. The service delivers a solution that looks exactly like the book or magazine in print, but it is an access solution not a file delivery protocol. So the access management side of the business is at least as important as the content management side. We also provide customer support and statistics to our users since cross-platform solutions for users that range in size from the largest universities to the private individual will, from time to time, present new questions.

3) Who is your target market?

Exact Editions 3Exact Editions launched by focusing on the consumer magazine space and selling subscriptions direct to consumers and through app stores. We were among the first magazine solutions to deliver apps for the iPhone and then for the iPad. Never neglecting our roots in the web. In the last 5 years a growing sector for us is the university, college and library market. Also selling site licenses for corporates. Exact Editions is unusual among digital magazine solutions in providing access to complete archives (we work with magazines that have archives that stretch back to the 19th century). A concern with archives leads us to support the librarians’ requirement for perpetual access.

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

Exact EditionsOnce Exact Editions was selling some magazines for perpetual access, it was clear that there is demand for a similar service for books. The Exact Editions platform works well for book publishers that have complex and rich page designs that are poorly served by the most commonly used ebook file formats. But equally important the Exact Editions service offers publishers the opportunity to sell books with a perpetual access to institutions that need to have a multi-user, site license for the campus or organisation. We launched our book service three weeks ago and it seems that the multi-user, site license access management that we provide for book publishers is an important offering. Book publishers also get to set the price level for their individual titles on the Exact Editions platform, and they have ownership of their subscriber lists.

5) What will be next for Exact Editions?

Exact Editions is a platform, not a publisher, so we are keen to work with as many publishers as can use our services. We are primarily aimed at the library and institutional market, at this point mainly universities and colleges, but we can already see that there is a good market among schools and corporates for many of the books and magazines which are using our platform. Opening up these broader markets is on our wish list. We also have some very successful French magazines and we would like to add books and magazines from all the major European languages.
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.

On the digital learning platform from Blackwell’s

This is a guest post from Evie Prysor-Jones, Digital Publishing Executive, Blackwell’s Learning platform. (host of next month’s BookMachine London) Blackwell’s Beginning On New Year’s Day in 1879 Benjamin Henry Blackwell opened the doors to B.H. Blackwell’s, a 12-foot square bookshop on Broad Street in Oxford. On Tuesday 8th April 2014 Blackwell’s announced to the publishing industry that it was building a digital learning platform for students and academics, and on Monday 15th September 2014, we turned it on.

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