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Note: This article was written for the London Book Fair Show Daily.
Submitted by:  Susan Ruszala, President, NetGalley (susan.ruszala@netgalley.com)

Like so many people in book publishing, I entered this industry because I love to read. So imagine my delight, when after many years of marketing publishing technology solutions, I was asked to launch a site dedicated to “professional readers.” (Professional reader: noun: Those whose job it is to read, review and recommend books, primarily new books, to consumers). Professional readers are reviewers, critics, media, booksellers, librarians, bloggers and educators, to name just a few, and there are over 57,000 of them already using NetGalley for free to access digital proofs from publishers.

Digital proofs are eco-friendly, fast, and cost-effective
Galley distribution is one of the key publicity and marketing activities performed by publishers and media agencies, but the process of distributing print proofs is cumbersome, expensive, and inefficient. At its simplest, NetGalley helps to simplify and speed up that process by substituting secure digital galleys for print.

Communities of influence are larger than you think
One of the great ironies of print proofs is that their distribution is often limited by budget, and limited to a perceived “A” list of influencers. We’ve often heard from publicists, marketers, digital marketers, library marketers, sales reps and even authors that they’d like to broaden the number of people who can preview their content before it’s published, and that they’d like to know with more certainty the influence and reach of those broader communities. Today’s web technology makes this possible.

The largest segment of our current community is reviewers, comprising just over 50%. Librarians make up 19%, with the remainder split evenly between booksellers, media and educators. Our UK member-base is growing more rapidly as UK publishers begin making content available, and we’re working closely with those publishers to introduce their contacts to NetGalley. We also hope to work with other member organizations as we are with the American Library Association.

Request and invite
New books have a better chance of commercial success when they’re launched into dedicated communities of interested readers. When publishers list their titles in the NetGalley catalog, allowing members to request access, they are identifying and cultivating new influencers as well as connecting with existing contacts.

Publicity is also about pitch: Publishers use our tools to incorporate digital proofs into all they already do for their titles, including pitch emails, giveaways, bookseller marketing, author events, social media marketing and more.

We support DRM (or not)
Despite many industry debates about the pitfalls of Digital Rights Management, an overwhelming 89% of titles we handled in NetGalley last year have security applied to prevent unauthorized sharing or distribution. It’s our opinion that publishers have the right to protect their content as they (and their authors) see fit; but we also offer a DRM-free option for publishers who are interested in making their content more widely available. NetGalley members read on all major devices and tablets; right now the split is about even between Kindle and all other Adobe DRM-compatible devices (iPad/iPhone, Kobo, Nook, Sony Reader, and Android phones/tablets).

We help navigate the digital landscape
Customer service—to publishers and especially to readers—has grown to be a key piece of our business. Though unfortunate, accessing a protected proof on a device is more confusing than it should be. Our team of Concierges is comprised of former book publicists or marketers who understand that a timely, professional response is essential, particularly when dealing with a media contact. With publishers, that same team provides creative examples of how to incorporate digital proofs into specific campaigns, launches new programs like NetGalley at the Library, and helps generate invite widgets for publishers to use when inviting their own contacts to view a title on NetGalley.

Digital is global
There are no boundaries when it comes to information, and this is just one of the many reasons we’re so pleased to be launching officially into the UK publishing market. It’s been our pleasure to work with early adopters like Bloomsbury, Faber and Faber, Harlequin, HarperCollins and Penguin, and we’re looking forward to expanding the number of titles, readers (and local staff) in 2012 and beyond.

Susan Ruszala is the President of NetGalley. Find out more about NetGalley at
www.netgalley.com or visit us at the London Book Fair in the Digital Zone, W845.

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One of the biggest challenges for publishers is tapping into the web’s inexpensive viral marketing while preventing the loss of sales and content due to theft. Oh, is that word too harsh? Theft? I bring that up because on one side of the coin, publishers don’t want to make their valued readers feel like potential criminals. But, on the other side of the coin, publishers are entrusted with authors’ content and don’t want it to lose potential profits either while sending out ARCs for review.

Let’s look at airport security for a second. It’s analogous. Airlines’ passengers, the very people who they rely on for business are treated much like criminals when poked and prodded through airport security.

Readers, who publishers rely on for reviews and buzz, may feel just as hassled and put out as airline passengers when they receive digitally rights managed (DRM) galleys. First, they have to figure out the type of DRM galley they’ve been sent. Maybe they have a Sony Reader but the DRM galley they received only works on Kindles. Or, they’re sick of reading things on their computer but the DRM galley can only be read on their computer and is not downloadable to their Kindle.

One way to avoid this is to survey your readers. Know your audience, right? Their reading habits have changed with the times. Find out if the majority of your readers use a Sony Reader, Kindle, Nook, iPhone, or other reader then offer those reading options. If you don’t already have a survey service, http://surveymonkey.com/  is great for a quick, free survey.  And, if you use NetGalley, then work with our Digital Concierge, Lindsey Rudnickas, to make sure your titles have the appropriate reading options available for your readers.

Another route to go, if you’d like to offer DRM-free, or open ARCs, so that they can be more easily passed from one person to the next, is to provide just the index and a few chapters of a galley, to get the benefit of generating buzz without all the risk. Digital galleys, unlike traditional printed ARCs, which are passed around as well, give publishers more control over how much of the content readers can view.

Let’s not forget our friends the excerpt. HTML excerpts are another way to give readers a taste of what a book has to offer without throwing the content to the wind. Just remember to use it as you would all marketing material with a call to action at the end. What would you like interested readers to do? If you’re a member of NetGalley you could provide a link to your title and suggest that interested readers request the galley now, or email the excerpt to a friend.

If you’re thinking, that’s fine, but a tad dull, add some video and or author audio clips to the DRM-free PDF you send to readers.  No matter how you dress up an ARC, it’s hard to include video and audio as easily and inexpensively as you can with a PDF (http://www.totalwebvideo.com/pdfmedia/pdfmedia.html). The benefit of digital galleys is that they can plug into so much more than their analog counterparts. 

With a little creative thinking publishers can use digital galleys to generate more buzz more easily and inexpensively than with printed galleys, without feeling like they’re giving away content for free.

 Additional Resources

E-Reader Matrix and supported formats: http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/E-book_Reader_Matrix

Adobe Content Server (ACS4) can provide DRM galleys for a number of devices including the nook and Sony readers. To see a complete list: http://www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions/devices/

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