Ch VII: Ebooks Primer, AAUP Marketing Handbook

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"E-books Primer," by Caitlin Churchill, Texas A&M University Press. Chapter 7 of the forthcoming AAUP Marketing Handbook.

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Ch VII: Ebooks Primer, AAUP Marketing Handbook

  1. 1. VII. E-books primerCaitlin Churchill, Texas A&M University PressIt’s been interesting to observe the formulation of electronic publishing programs at universitypresses, especially during an economic downturn. Issues of the most essential and particularnature have arisen from every department, and so have leaders spearheading e-publishing efforts.As a result, approaches are diverse and creative, and our community relies on shared experience,expertise, and experimentation – of all things considered. The e-book conversation wadesthrough fundamental operational decisions, takes on encapsulated industry directives, bravesretail dominance and deterioration, weighs institutional trends, engages professional speculation(and in the quiet moments, allows vocational contemplation). The profusion of it all! Thoughperhaps in proportion; Publisher’s Weekly foretells the digital revolution and proliferation of e-books will result in a future “with more readers, more writers, and more outlets than everbefore.”Lest we overlook our present plentifulness! More vendors, more contracts, more formats, moreISBNs, more metadata, more reports, and of course more marketing.Each press must determine strategically how to pursue the plethora of e-publishing possibilities,how to distribute surfacing responsibilities, and what unknowns remain to resolve.How might the marketing department support a successful e-books program? Communicate e-book: 1. availability 2. accessibility 3. appealCommunicate to CustomersAvailability: Communicate through established marketing techniques that your books are alsoavailable as e-books.Make it clear through promotions, publicity, and advertising that all front list titles are alsoavailable as e-books. Every time you market a book, also market its e-book counterpart: incatalogs, online forums, social media, blog posts, e-blasts, event invitations, direct mail,advertising, signage, etc. Whether you uniformly stash a simple phrase like “e-book available”under basic bibliographic information or utilize a cleverly-branded e-book emblem, simplycommunicate the existence of e-books across-the-board at your press. Simply is the keyword.You don’t direct customers to every single seller of your books, so don’t follow the impulse todo so for e-books. Always direct customers to your Web site with the simple knowledge of e-book availability, and as a marketing team have confidence and warranty that these customerswill be pointed to e-booksellers through your Web site (or as it may be, that your Press willfulfill the order itself).Accessibility: Communicate through the Web site and catalog where to buy youre-books.If you’re lucky, your press has its own sophisticated means to sell e-books on your Web site, orhas utilized Bibliovault, or another third-party’s shopping cart or distribution service. The
  2. 2. majority of university presses are not yet selling e-books directly. Therefore on your Web site, itshould be incredibly clear (and maybe even redundantly expressed on every book page) whereyour e-books can be bought and how they are read. This is the time to morph simple intospecific; direct customers to specific retailers and independent booksellers of e-books with aneasy point and click method. Point to the main page of Amazon Kindle, Google eBookstore,Barnes & Noble, Kobobooks.com, Apple iBookstore, or your preferred retail vendors, andalways share that independent bookstores sell e-books too (perhaps by referring to the link:http://www.indiebound.org/google-ebooks).Appeal: Communicate the unique previewing and buying options e-books present throughvendor tools and marketing promotions.  Experiment with promotion pricing and limited giveaways.  Consider opportunities with independent bookstores. E-book promotions through Indies express support; strengthening the publisher’s relationship with local booksellers and undoubtedly benefiting print book sales and event collaboration.  Amazon Kindle “Send sample now”: When you receive inquiries from authors or readers about Kindle availability of a specific book, send a URL link of that e-book’s Kindle page and suggest the individual requests a sample of the e-book by clicking the “Send sample now” button on the right-hand side of the screen under “Try it free.”  Amazon Kindle “Give as a Gift”: Does an organization affiliated with a recently published book want to buy e-books for board members, alumni, or scholars? Or maybe your Press is having a Christmas promotion, suggest the “Give as a Gift” option, found on Kindle book pages at the right-hand side of the screen under “Buy now…”  This year, iTunes U has made a big push to feature epubs. Track down your local university representative, and you might be very surprised with the amount of collaboration and assistance provided.Communicate to AuthorsAvailability: Communicate e-book availability through seasonal announcements.Don’t forget your best marketing tool – authors. Send seasonal announcements of e-bookavailability to front list authors. Remind authors to share the news. Reinvigorate backlist and out-of-print titles by sending those authors an announcement of their book’s electronic availability.Accessibility: Offset authors worries their e-book is too accessible.Services like Attributor.com may be of use. Or perhaps your press doesn’t see its currentexposure to piracy as a threat. Have a stance on piracy and be prepared to communicate it toauthors when prompted.Appeal: Communicate and demonstrate your press’ willingness to experiment with enhanced e-books and embrace creative suggestions from authors.E-book shorts, audio enhanced e-books, and mobile apps are a few examples. Remember,possibility before probability. Support limitless creativity, but understand that even conversionservices and vendors are stumbling through standardizing formats and enhancing e-books. For
  3. 3. example, .prc files (Kindle files) with embedded audio/video can only be played on IOS devices(iPad, iPhone, iMac), but not yet on a Kindle.Communicate to VendorsAvailability: Communicate simultaneous print and e-book publication.The book and e-book need to be available simultaneously so that any publicity and promotioncan sell both editions (pre or post-publication). Logistically, e-books need to be available within8 weeks of print publication for Yankee Book Peddler approval plans. If a library pre-orders ane-book before publication and the e-book is not available within 8 weeks, the order will be lost.Important note: e-books should really be submitted to vendors no later than 6 weeks after printpublication, giving vendors 2 weeks to process availability.Accessibility: Run-down of e-book vendors and sales outlets.Some presses have adopted the strategy of making all e-books available “everywhere.” Willpresses benefit most from widespread availability (which by nature accompanies less attention tomarket characteristics)? Or might presses surprisingly benefit from focused marketing andcultivated relationships with a manageable number of vendors (high-profile or audience specificvendors you can count on your hands – maybe toes)? Either way, keep a running list of vendors.Create a spreadsheet of vendors’ services and contact information and your press’ decisionsabout participation or pursuit for each vendor.Independent bookstores are selling e-books! Fortunately this possibility is easily utilized throughGoogle Affiliates in which retailers become sales reps for Google ebookstore. Unfortunatelymost retailers cannot sell e-books through their own Web site without the assistance of aprogram like Google Affiliates, meaning retailers and publishers have to share a cut withGoogle.  Learn more about Google Affiliates: http://www.google.com/ads/affiliatenetwork/partners/index.html  View a list of indies selling ebooks through Google Affiliates: http://www.indiebound.org/google-ebooksMost common retail vendors:  Amazon Kindle sells directly to end-users e-books that can be read on kindle, kindle touch, or kindle fire. Downloading the Kindle Reading App allows reading on iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac, or Blackberry devices as well.  Amazon Kindle UK, Italy, Spain, France, and Germany are separate portals where e- books are sold directly to end-users in their native country’s currency. Though Amazon at one point called for an Amazon Europe addendum, presses may simply request participation through Amazon Vendor Central. Any books available through Amazon Kindle can be made available, or excluded, from the above territories.  Google ebookstore sells directly to end-users and allows participating Google Affiliates to act as sales representatives for Google. Through Google Partner Center, you may enable sales in the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and Italy. Downloading auto-filled metadata spreadsheets from Google Partner Center will allow you to exclude specific territories for specific books.  Nook by Barnes and Noble
  4. 4.  Kobobooks.com  Baker & Taylor BLIO e-reading application  eBooks.com  Apple iBookstore  ebookstore.sony.com  OverDriveMost common institutional vendors:  eBrary/ProQuest  EBSCO  Ingram MyiLibrary  Project Muse University Press Content Consortium  University Press Scholarship Online (UPSO by OUP)  EBL focuses on academic and research-based libraries  AcademicPub Library provides institutions with chapters, articles, and cases for building course material  UniversityReaders provides institutions with course packs and custom textbooksAppeal: Communicate appeal to vendors through flawless and full metadata.Haven’t you heard? Metadata is marketing. Whether you’re a fan of this phrase or not, it’s clearthat while marketing is still marketing, metadata is certainly an undeniable part of marketing –especially pertaining to e-books. Why so? Metadata is the only way for people to “see” e-books.All marketing and sales efforts start at the metadata level, but whereas print books are reinforcedby a tangible, static product, the dissemination of e-books is reliant upon consistent, full-bodiedmetadata and file counterparts. Someone in the marketing department should keep a close eye oninternal metadata of front list print books – much e-book metadata is built off reliable print bookmetadata.If your press has aligned ONIX feeds with vendors or has signed on with e-book distributionservices like Ingram’s CoreSource or OReilly, you are saving a lot of time. Still, some presseshave good reasons for sticking to metadata spreadsheets. If your press relies on metadataspreadsheets to vendors, ask your sales manager to seasonally send a basic metadata spreadsheetof front list e-books (including at least ISBNs of print and e-book, title, author, and one to threeBISAC subject codes) to his or her Yankee Book Peddler contact. YBP will receive thismetadata from eBrary, but your sales manager can get one foot out the door long before eBrary(or other institutional vendors) receive front list metadata spreadsheets and files. (Somethingnear 70% of YBPs sales are from publishers front lists.)The eISBN is no more. The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) new Policy Statement detailingbest practices for assigning ISBNs to digital products emphasizes there is no such thing as aneISBN. An ISBN for e-books should be labeled “ISBN” not “eISBN.” (Download the BISGPolicy Statement at this link: http://www.bisg.org/what-we-do-4-150-pol-1101-best-practices-for-identifying-digital-products.php.)Publishers are still debating the right way to display e-books in catalogs. Some feature a catch-allannouncement of e-book availability on the front inside-cover of their catalog. Some use the
  5. 5. phrase “simultaneous electronic edition available” below bibliographic information of everybook. Some list the e-book ISBN and retail list price with bibliographic information, while somelist only the e-book ISBN and bypass specifying e-book price(s). Regardless of the method weall come to terms with, consider including e-book ISBNs in your catalog sooner than later;catalogs are one source Baker & Taylor and Yankee Book Peddler use to harvest data.Communicate, communicate, communicate… and join the discussion.The conversation continues. This e-books primer will change and develop as e-publishingprograms are defined.E-publishing requires integral communication. Formulating an e-publishing program is an all-encompassing initiative for a press. Encourage your press to have regularly scheduled e-publishing meetings that include staff representation from most, if not all, departments.AAUP has both a “University Press E-Book Publishers” LinkedIn group and an “E-bookMarketing” subgroup. These forums provide timely, perplexing, valuable, relatable e-bookdiscussions. 

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