Best Practices From 2005: Why Publishers Should Engage Readers
From The Bookseller:
“Direct to consumer” is not about selling books through your Web site.
Rather, it is a philosophy that puts your consumer, the reader, first and foremost in each and every activity that the business undertakes. That might seem straightforward enough, but with decades of complex author, agent and retail agreements piling up — not to mention territorial licensing, franchise deals and the like — readers may have taken a bit of a back seat in publisher corporate strategy.
Publishers must recognize that they are brand owners
They are the gatekeepers standing between fans and the authors and stories they love.
- Ask the average reader who their favourite author is and you get a clear-cut answer (or two, or more!).
- Ask who publishes that author and you see where the branding loses focus.
Let’s face it: most readers never visit publishers’ sites. And if they do, they don’t find many good reasons to return. That’s because the typical publisher’s site is covered with dozens of images showing frontlist releases, current bestsellers, author listings and some lame ads to join a boring mailing list.
In other words, a publisher’s site feels like an inferior online store. Yet if it were in fact a good online store, the retailers would get upset. It’s a bit of a catch-22, which is why most publishers’ sites work against themselves.
Is there a better approach to take? Yes. Mimic the news sites and focus on offering compelling content rather than just selling product.
So publishers should engage with readers?
That’s a great idea – for 2005, when most industries had already figured out that they need to develop and maintain an online brand presence.
Seriously, folks, this should not be a hot discussion topic in 2015 (it was DBW’s featured article on Tuesday). It should be a standard business practice. It should be one of the reasons you hire a good marketing person (or perhaps attend that marketer’s webinar).
The only notable detail about these pieces is how they show that the book publishing industry is frighteningly slow at adapting to the changing times. While individual publishers have long engaged with readers (Baen has had a webforum since the turn of the millennium) the industry as a whole is moving at a glacial pace.
This is a problem, folks, because:
- We live in a time when the internet landscape changes on a fundamental level every six months or so.
- At the same time, the publishing industry is excited about ten year old ideas.
This does not bode well for said industry’s long-term survival.
image by Mack_L