By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘A Niche Unfilled by Others’In New York, Open Road Integrated Media has announced overnight (January 23) an expansion to its marketing services program, Open Road Ignition, which provides direct-to-consumer outreach and other marketing for publishers.
In 2018, the company reports, more than 30 publishers signed on to the program, which delivered promotional support to some 6,100 titles. Open Road’s media messaging says its marketing outreach has pushed some backlist titles onto bestseller lists and the Amazon Charts’ Most Sold and Most Read lists.
Still relatively new—announced in the autumn of 2017—the Ignition marketing scheme is credited by many for turning around the fortunes of Open Road, which was founded by industry veteran and backlist champion Jane Friedman primarily as a vault of valuable backlisted titles in ebook format from some of the most notable authors and literary estates in the world.
While that cache of more than 10,000 titles still forms the content heart of Open Road’s operation, the Ignition program has capitalized on the success of the company’s consumer newsletters, which target recipients based on their genre interests and other factors.
Publishers can pay to present their offerings in Open Road’s newsletters, and once such a partner’s baseline revenue is met, Open Road shares all sales over baseline with the participating publisher.
While dollar figures aren’t offered in tonight’s press information, Ignition is reported to have seen a 156-percent increase in revenue across all of its partners’ titles in the program, which operates on shared revenue.
Highlights of Open Road’s 2018 Operations
- An expanded the number of readers on its sites, social networks, and newsletters to more than 24 million people. The programming, according to the company, used search trends to enhance interest in books and brands to bring broader audience attention levels to its consumer newsletters including Early Bird Books, The Portalist, Murder & Mayhem, The Archive, A Love So True, and The Lineup.
- A new newsletter, The Reader, focuses on new and backlist titles for approximately 80,000 young professionals who are determined to be highly educated, affluent, and voracious readers.
- Another sub-brand, Creepy Crate, is a bi-monthly curation of horror, paranormal, and true-crime related products, and that property is reported to have increased subscriptions by 32.4 percent. In getting their shipments, recipients are reported to have made goodly use of their Web cams to shoot more than 100,000 videos of themselves opening their packages.
In a prepared statement, Open Road CEO Paul Slavin is quoted, saying that the value publishers see in the Ignition approach is that the service “generates significant revenue, stimulates demand for their authors, and provides them with a turnkey digital solution for their titles.
“In 2018,” Slavin says, “we focused on maintaining profitability, building the necessary technology to scale our efforts, and populating a consumer data platform to collect information that helps us serve our consumers. We occupy a niche unfilled by others, and we’re poised to deliver significant revenue growth year-over-year for the next few years.”
From the company’s chief marketing officer, Mary McAveney, we have several specific properties with notable performance. True to the ethos of the original backlist-centered Open Road concept, she says, top-gaining authors are familiar but not recently in the spotlight. Such authors on her list and their particularly busy titles are:
- Eudora Welty, Delta Wedding
- Peter Hedges, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?
- Tim O’Brien, July, July
- TS Eliot, Complete Poems and Plays
- Margery Allingham, The Tiger in the Smoke
- Umberto Eco, Kant and the Platypus
In a statement, McAveney says that other writers seeing substantial levels of success “are still actively publishing but also have a significant collection of work that have seen a spark of life since becoming part of the Ignition program.” These, she says, include Anil Ananthaswamy for Edge of Physics, Mark Bowden for Doctor Dealer, Cynthia Ozick for Heir to the Glimmering World, and Alan Le May, The Searchers).
Grove Atlantic CEO and publisher Morgan Entrekin has several hundred titles in the program, and has contributed an endorsement on how Ignition is performing for his company. “Our partnership with Open Road,” he’s quoted saying, “has dramatically increased the sales of a wide range of our backlist titles. The increased revenue for both Grove and the authors is great—but even more exciting is that this initiative is helping introduce these worthy books to new readers.