Publishers can't afford to lose the e-book plot
She says specialist publisher Osprey had a head start in understanding customers. “We know our customers in the way many publishers really don’t. We were selling direct to customers before many others.”
Osprey also understands niche markets, she notes. When they found that 60 per cent of their military history readers also read science fiction and fantasy, they bought Angry Robot, a publisher in that area, and also just launched Strange Chemistry, a young adult science fiction and fantasy imprint.
Metadata is critical, but still lacking, for e-book marketing, says Crowley. “It’s clear that publishing has changed dramatically in the last couple of years”, but the marketing approach has not kept up with those changes. “It’s a big challenge.”
A potential use of analytics is to help publishers decide how to place and price their e-books. Using ePub Direct’s publisher data, Crowley observes that e-book prices are “significantly lower across every genre” in Britain compared to other markets, suggesting that publishers and authors are missing out on potential revenue.
He says that the most effective price point for publishers using ePub Direct for distribution, was $9.99. Books priced above $12 comprised 30 per cent of titles, but only 13 per cent of sales.
Lindsey Mooney, UK vendor manager for e-reader manufacturer and e-book publisher Kobo, agrees that publishers risk undervaluing their e-books and losing revenue. British buyers don’t seem to like items priced at 99p, and are far more willing to buy items that have a higher price, perhaps because of perceived quality.
Kobo, which has partnered with booksellers WH Smith, found its pricing “sweet spot” was £4.99. One advantage of e-books, though, is that retailers can easily change prices if an item isn’t selling, or give a discount on back catalogue books to help promote sales of an author’s upcoming new release, she adds.
Kobo, which has more than 10 million users in 200 countries, carefully analyses its user demographics, she says. “We know what and when people read, when they abandon books, when they buy.”
They have found that most people buy e-books “just before bedtime”, between 7pm and 9pm. A surprise finding was that people who read in the morning, spend more time reading, though they have no idea why.
Like Amazon, Kobo is eager to get people to buy their e-readers, not just their e-books.
“We’re keen to sell devices, because device users buy more, and read more quickly. They are 350 per cent more loyal and worth 30 per cent more to us per year. That’s why we’re continuing to evolve our products.”
It launched three more e-readers last week.
For e-publishers, one successful marketing approach is to utilise the ability of the net to create and support social communities. “Our marketing philosophy is about the tribe. Create a platform, have someone at the heart of the community, and that pulls in authors, which pulls in readers, which pulls in more authors,” Smart says.