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Archive for the ‘Digital Publishing’ Category

Book Categories, User Experience, and Missed Opportunities

One fascinating market dynamic that bears watching: how the ebook format has helped to reveal or amplify the huge differences among book buyers when it comes to how they read and what they want from their reading experience. Book genre, for example, has emerged as one of the major differentiators in book format and other preferences. So, while eBooks of many genres of fiction–romance, science fantasy, and commercial general fiction–have been quickly adopted by avid fans, other categories of fiction and most non-fiction genres have been slower to catch on in the digital marketplace.

This isn’t an original observation, I know. The more interesting question to me is how genre-format differentiation might provoke fresh thinking about user experience of ebooks and how their valued in general. How best to serve readers of different genres? Would more intently focusing on user experience point to missed opportunities in the eBook marketplace?

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“That’s New to Me”—Book Marketers Please Take Note

In a recent postMike Shatzkin took note of how some publishers were reshaping their publishing lists around their core strengths and strategic vision.  Along the way, Mike offers his view on how the diminished role of booksellers and the rise of online discovery may effect sales of publisher backlist titles.

When digital first started to happen, it seemed like the backlist might be the biggest beneficiary. After all, stores had limited shelf space and online merchants can “carry” all the books they want, particularly if there is no pre-purchased inventory required. (There isn’t for ebooks and there increasingly isn’t for printed books either, which can be purchased from wholesalers for next day delivery, even if they are printed on demand!)

But, Mike goes on to say that, “it turns out that the current state-of-the-art for merchandising and presentation of books online is not very helpful to backlist.” I have a somewhat different view on this.

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Nobody Knows Anything—But Let’s Not Let That Stop Us

During a very long highway drive to northern Maine, I remembered something  a philosophy professor said to me when I was in school: “Most philosophical problems are caused not by having the wrong set of assumptions,” she said, “but by having assumptions you’re not aware of.” Later on this week, I’m meeting with some friends to lay the groundwork for a new publishing model I’ve been kicking around for a while now. That got me thinking about my own assumptions. Here are a few of the most essential. Some may see obvious or too abstract, but they do lead in a direction.

  1. As the volume of content that is available increases, both delivering and determining content of quality will become increasingly difficult and valuable. Delivering, here, does not mean only producing but having the content discovered, used, engaged in some way. Quality includes relevance and context. Continue Reading…