By Edward Nawotka
As discussed in today’s feature story about French interactive e-book start up Walrus, there is no reason publishers can’t apply interactivity to a full range of products. As Julien Simon, CEO of Walrus, notes, “But why wouldn’t an Ikea catalogue, for example, be an interactive book?”
Next up: I’d like to see more interactive seasonal catalogs from publishers, with video, embedded Web chats etc., perhaps even personalized to buyers and reviewers, tailored to their region and preferences. It would be fascinating to see what kinds of assumptions publishers make about you and your tastes. (Due to my history of reviewing books about hip-hop books, several publishers seem to assume I’m African-American and have pitched me in ebonics).
Edelweiss, the electronic catalog service of Above the Treeline, is moving in the right direction. Not only does the site offer e-catalogs, online ordering, digital review copies and the like, it also tracks reader reactions on blogs and Goodreads. Still, what it lacks is the true interactive element — author videos, sales rep pitches, editors enthusing about a title, and the like.
Personally, as a critic, I still find the most earnest pitch I can get for a book comes directly from the editor — the person who initially assumed the risk of acquisition. Think of the popularity of the “Buzz Panels” at BookExpo America, those sessions that feature editors pitching a single book each? It could make a big difference, especially for literary or midlist titles that aren’t so easily “sold.” In fact, there’s no reason to limit this to catalogs. Why not take it directly to the consumer? Authors have to do it, so why not editors? Wouldn’t you click on a video of editor X telling you exactly why a book is so great? At the very least it would be a voyeuristic glimpse into the book business (are the editors young hipsters or aging geezers, hot or not) for those not in publishing circles.
And with publishers increasingly looking for ways to sell direct to consumers, why not have editors serve as pitchmen and women?