By Jim Bryant, CEO of Trajectory.com
The future of publishing is unfolding before us now at a faster pace than ever before. In less than one generation, we have evolved
from navigating physical shelves of books arranged by the Dewey Decimal system to discovering books based on their actual and complete content. And, new means of book discovery couldn’t have arrived soon enough.
Consider for a moment the growing volume of books available through the global ebook supply chain. In some respects this represents a Renaissance, as never before have so many books been available for readers to download instantly. But suddenly joining every book that has been published in the last 150 years are hundreds of thousands of books created by independent authors and millions of foreign language titles as well. What’s a well-tempered bookseller to do? Two new discovery strategies to consider are: Be Available – Everywhere and Be Discoverable.
Be Available – Everywhere
Today, there are over relevant 350 ebookstores and library and school distributors selling English language books around the world. In order to reach book buyers your titles need to be available where readers around the globe shop. For example, several new retailers in China have recently announced their plans to introduce English Language collections to China’s 300 million English language learners. What’s staggering here is the scale of potential readers who are reached each month on these new platforms.
Dangdang (NYSE: DANG) is one of China’s largest ebook retailers. They reported over $1.4B in sales last year. They are also reporting over 4 million unique daily visitors to their website.
Tencent Literature is preparing their platform to accommodate English Language titles. Tencent reports over 820 million active monthly users of their shopping, search and social media platforms.
Xiaomi is a smartphone manufacturer with an estimated monthly average user base of 150M. They will be introducing a English language bookstore this year as well.
Most metadata and Onix feeds that are provided to retailers have a field for keywords. Be sure to use it. The goal here is to help the retailer by enabling them to integrate the keywords into their search function on their site. One way for you to identify the keywords that appear within a book is to look for word clouds that list the actual keywords, most common parts of speech, people, and places.
Foreign Language Markets – Keyword Translations
If your English-language book is being offered for sale in China you can make it easier to discover if you provide the retailer with the keywords in Chinese. Also, if the retailers highlight the translated words next to the title being offered for sale then it is easier for the buyer to see what the book is about.
Understanding Complexity and Reading Level
Today there are automated ways to assign complexity and reading levels to help readers match their reading level or interests with specific books. This may be especially useful in markets where English is a second language.
Matching and counting the words that appear within a book that also appear in external datasets is also of interest in certain markets. For example, students in China who are preparing for foreign language proficiency exams would be interested to know how many FOEFL or IELTS words appear in the book. A student in the United States may also be interested in knowing how many of the SAT words are included in the book.
Associating your books with other books is also quite useful in markets where the retailer may be less familiar with your titles and less experience in handling it. Using the content of the book rather than previous purchase history is helpful in new markets that lack buyer history.
As global markets and inventory continue to expand at unprecedented levels, there is a high level of strategic value in aligning the availability and discoverability of your books. The expanding global supply chain still offers first mover advantages to publishers who are quick and flexible enough to match their content to market demand.
Jim Bryant is co-founder and CEO of Trajectory, Inc. www.trajectory.com.