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Posts Tagged ‘reader communities’

We must apologize for the absence of new posts over the last few months. As you may know if you’re a NetGalley member, your Digital Concierge (me, Lindsey) went on maternity leave earlier than expected in late November, and this blog went on leave right along with me! Luckily we found great help in Sarah, who served as your Digital Concierge while I was out. Now I’ve returned to my post at NetGalley and we’re ready to give you an update.

Here’s what NetGalley’s been up to over the past few months:

  • Finding new ways for you to read digital galleys. Thanks to the Aldiko Book Reader app, Android users can now read NetGalley files on their devices. Have questions about using your iPad, iPhone, Kobo, Literati, Nook, Sony Reader, or other device with NetGalley? There’s a page for that!
  • Telling you about new titles. Currently we have more than 940 titles listed in NetGalley’s public catalog, and new galleys are added all the time. We send out periodic updates about our new titles, so make sure you’re signed up to receive our newsletters for your favorite genres. Plus, you can now view past and forthcoming newsletters on our NetGalley Features page. We’ll soon be announcing the Most Requested titles, so check back to see if it’s your favorite!
  • Helping your requests get approved. We asked publishers what criteria they use to determine whether to approve or decline galley requests. Wondering what publishers are looking for? Check out this new page BEFORE you request to better your chances of getting the galleys you want.
  • Getting to know you — our members. We closed out 2010 with 15,353 registered members of NetGalley (today, just three months later, we’ve surpassed 20,000 members!), and we took some time to look at what that number means:
    • Reviewers – including bloggers – make up almost half of our members (49%). Another 16.5% are librarians, and 11% are part of the media. Booksellers make up an additional 11% of our member community, while educators accounted for 9.7%.
    • When new members join NetGalley, we ask them to indicate which genres they’re interested in. Literature & Fiction is the most popular, but only by a little bit – Teens & YA is close behind. Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction & Fantasy, and Romance are next, followed by Nonfiction.
    • NetGalley members made 80,945 requests to view galleys in 2010. It’s probably not too much of a surprise to say that reviewers made most of those requests – 63.9% of them, to be precise.
    • Our members downloaded 45,422 galleys last year. Almost half (46.9%) were DRM-protected files downloaded with Adobe Digital Editions. 29.1% were sent directly to members’ Kindles, and 11.2% were DRM-free files.
    • And the result of all of those readers, requests, and downloads was a mountain of reviews sent to publishers via NetGalley: 7972, to be precise. That’s a 17.6% return on approved galley requests.

So that’s the latest from the NetGalley world. I look forward to connecting with you!

Happy Reading,
Lindsey

Digital Concierge
NetGalley

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BookSwim.com's Nick Ruffilo (@bookswim)

We bookish folks currently live in a funny and expanding universe. Funny and expanding because much of it, for many of us largely takes place virtually. Well, #followreader is one prime example. And, chatting about books and publishing outside of #followreader with fellow Twitter bookish tweeps is another. As are: all the groups and fan sites and friends of a bookish feather we hang out with on Facebook. Did I forget to mention book blogs? Perish the thought! Bookish blogs are a big virtual stop for many of us.

Added to this is the increasingly (again, for many – not all – of us), digital nature of reading itself. Ebooks and ibooks and book apps and whatever will electronic reading gizmo or format will come out in the seconds it takes me to finish typing this sentence — many things about the lit life have gone virtual.

So, it’s pretty fabulous to consider the flip side of all this online activity — it can lead to some wonderful real world interactions with real world books. Consider if you will: I’m in Cambridge a few weeks ago. I casually tweet about being in Cambridge. Not moments later, my Twitter buddy @ConMartin (whom I have never met in real life), direct messages me back, and asks if I’d like to meet for coffee. REALLY meet. For REAL coffee. Well, how cool is that? Long story short, we did meet (real coffee was nixed in favor of real frosty adult beverages). And Constance gave me one of the best tours of Harvard Yard and Harvard BOOKSTORE (definitely worth a visit) that anyone could ever hope for.

@conmartin + @katmeyer meet IRL

In addition, we have a really great conversation, and I learn more about Constance’s own love of books — real booky books– and “in real life” book clubs. I, on the other hand, was able to impart to her some of the reasons I’m crazy about e-reading opportunities and online reading communities.

This is but one example of a bonding with virtual book buddy in the physical plane — another being, just last night I got to meet @susanmpls for the first time in real life for a real dinner at a real restaurant. (more accurately: a really fattening and delicious dinner at a really fabulous Italian restaurant). We talked a lot. A LOT. Almost entirely about books and publishing, but also about chocolate, and family, and – come to think of it, it was mostly about books and publishing.

Begs the question, if virtual relationships can manifest in the real world, what of the connection between physical books and ebooks? I’m not one of those alarmists (I use the term with a tiny grain of salt – please do not take offense all you alarmists, you) who worry that the paper book will be obliterated from the planet. I think paper and plastic will co-exist nicely for as long as we flesh and blood readers remain more real than virtual. But, I have also been running into a lot of cool things happening with booky books lately that make me more and more excited about the book as a real life object. One is visual search, which is a technology that allows the physical to be married to the virtual via smart phones ( QR codes for example, only, visual search ot less bar code-y and a lot more seamlessly integrated into your day to day life).

I’m working on a post over at my day job (Tools of Change) that will offer a glimpse into just how cool this technology is, and how rapidly it’s evolving. So, go over there and check it out tomorrow. (Fingers crossed it will be up tomorrow — I swear, Jamey!).

I’ve also run into some booky-bookish touchstones lately that while are not in the least bit high-tech, do a fabulous job of blurring the lines of what a book is and what the physical book as object means to us as flesh and blood readers. Another story for you: Last month I’m frantically running around BookExpo America, and I have the good fortune of meeting up with the calm, cool and collected Nick Ruffilo of BookSwim.com. We catch up (in real life, for a change) — Nick telling me some of the very interesting things that BookSwim has in store in the near future, and before parting ways, we decide to do the proper IRL thing and exchange real papery business cards. In my usual uncool, uncalm, uncollected manner, I fumble through the black hole that is my purse, looking for one undamaged and mostly legible business card. Nick, on the other hand, reaches calmly into his messenger bag and pulls out an old, leather-bound book:

Nick's book

How odd, you might think – as did I.

But, Nick is full of surprises. Turns out his book is no mere book. His book hides many secrets.

Nick's business card holder

Yeah – that’s cool. As a hobby, and side-gig, Nick takes old, damaged books and converts them into really cool bookish artifacts-with-a-purpose.

It’s interesting how the virtual and the real worlds of books and the bookish tend to collide. Interesting in a good way, I think.

p.s. – Check out Nick’s etsy store. He creates his secret compartment books on request. I might have gone and gotten one. And I might love it to death and highly recommend getting one yourself, if you’re so inclined.

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It’s almost that time, when bookish folk flock to the largest publishing event in North America: BookExpo America (BEA)/ Twitter @BookExpoAmerica. This year BEA is at the Jacob K. Javits Center in NYC Tuesday, May 25 – Thursday, May 27. NetGalley will be at BEA, so stop by and say hello — we’re part of the Firebrand Technologies booth #3905.

We’ve got a fun way for you to get a sneak peek at new books! See below for our NetGalley BEA Buzz Schedule (taking place all day Wed and Thurs). We’ll demo a new title on NetGalley, show you how to get it on your favorite e-reader, and “pitch” the book itself so you can see where all the buzz begins. Check out which titles publicists have selected as potential breakout releases!

The best part is if you watch our demo, you’ll be among the first to view the galley on NetGalley after the show — with an invite from the publisher to download the galley and read it in full. Plus, select titles are available to request on NetGalley NOW if you’d like to get a jump-start on your reading!

So check out (and request) the NetGalley BEA Buzz titles here, mark your calendars, and we’ll see you at the show!

NetGalley BEA Buzz Schedule

WEDNESDAY MAY 26 @ NetGalley booth #3905

  • 10:00 AM: The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors

A Novel
By Michele Young-Stone
The Crown Publishing Group @CrownPublishing
Pub Date: April 2010

  • 10:30 AM: Truly, Madly, Deadly

The Unofficial True Blood Companion
By Becca Wilcott
ECW Press @ecwpress
Pub Date: June 2010

  • 11:00 AM: THE BELLY FAT CURE™ FAST TRACK

By Jorge Cruise
Hay House, Inc
Pub Date: December 29, 2010

  • 11:30 AM: Harvest to Heat

Cooking with America’s Best Chefs, Farmers, and Artisans
By Darryl Estrine and Kelly Kochendorfer
The Taunton Press @tauntonmktg
Pub Date: October 2010

  • 12:00 PM: Around My French Table

More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours
By Dorie Greenspan
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt @hmhbooks
Pub Date: October 2010

  • 1:00 PM: Outside the Ordinary World

By Dori Ostermiller
Harlequin @HarlequinBooks
Pub Date: August 2010

  • 1:30 PM: Billie Girl

By Vickie Weaver
Leapfrog Press
Pub Date: September 2010

  • 2:00 PM: The Women’s Small Business Start-Up Kit

A Step-by-Step Legal Guide
By Peri Pakroo, J.D.
NOLO @NoloLibrary
Pub Date: May 2010

  • 4:00 PM: Safe From the Sea

By Peter Geye
Unbridled Books @unbridledbooks
Pub Date: September 2010

THURSDAY MAY 27 @ NetGalley booth #3905

  • 10:00 AM: Taking Charge of Adult ADHD

By Russell A. Barkley, PhD
Guilford Press @GuilfordPsych
Pub Date: August 2010

  • 11:00 AM: Vestments

By John Reimringer
Milkweed Editions @Milkweed_Books
Pub Date: September 2010

  • 11:30 AM: Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married

By Gary Chapman
Moody Publishers @moodybooks
Pub Date: September 2010

  • 12:00 PM: Simple Secrets

The Harmony Series, Book One
By Nancy Mehl
Barbour Publishing @BarbourBuzz
Pub Date: June 2010

  • 2:00 PM: Desserts 4 Today

By Abigail Johnson Dodge
The Taunton Press @tauntonmktg
Pub Date: September 2010

  • 2:30 PM: Deadline Man

By Jon Talton
Poisoned Pen Press
Pub Date: May 2010

NetGalley BEA Buzz Schedule (grid)

WEDNESDAY MAY 26 @ NetGalley booth #3905
10:00 AM The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors Crown Publishing Group Pub Date: April 2010
10:30 AM Truly, Madly, Deadly ECW Press Pub Date: June 2010
11:00 AM THE BELLY FAT CURE™ FAST TRACK Hay House, Inc Pub Date: December 29, 2010
11:30 AM Harvest to Heat The Taunton Press Pub Date: October 2010
12:00 PM Around My French Table Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Pub Date: October 2010
1:00 PM Outside the Ordinary World Harlequin Pub Date: July 2010
1:30 PM Billie Girl Leapfrog Press Pub Date: September 2010
2:00 PM The Women’s Small Business Start-Up Kit NOLO Pub Date: May 2010
4:00 PM Safe From the Sea Unbridled Books Pub Date: September 2010
THURSDAY MAY 27 @ NetGalley booth #3905
10:00 AM Taking Charge of Adult ADHD Guilford Press Pub Date: August 2010
11:00 AM Vestments Milkweed Editions Pub Date: September 2010
11:30 AM Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married Moody Publishers Pub Date: September 2010
12:00 PM Simple Secrets Barbour Publishing Pub Date: June 2010
2:00 PM Desserts 4 Today The Taunton Press Pub Date: September 2010
2:30 PM Deadline Man Poisoned Pen Press Pub Date: May 2010

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“Let’s love one book together, our actual geographical location be damned.”

~Jeff Howe (aka @crowdsourcing)

Dear fellow FollowReader-ers,

Jeff Howe/@crowdsourcing

We have found a bookish soul mate. His name is Jeff Howe and he’s our guest on #FollowReader today. Jeff is a contributing editor at Wired Magazine, and coiner of the phrase and author of the book Crowdsourcing – which is all well and good, but not why we’re googly-eyed over him. We like Jeff ‘cuz Jeff has this really awesome idea about getting everyone on Twitter to read the same book at the same time and form a big international book club – kind of like IRL city/community-sponsored reading events, only on Twitter and with a much bigger virtual community.

He has dubbed the project, “One Book, One Twitter” or #1b1t. And, here’s how it envisions it working:

• Now: We collect nominations for what book we want to read.

• Soon: We pick a winner out of the top selections. Why not just pick the one with the most votes? Because it’s not too hard to game the system. The final selection needs to be of general interest. It needs to be translated into many, many languages, and ideally it should be freely available.

• Soon After That: We start reading, and tweeting, and reading, and tweeting.

Isn’t that just the best?

And don’t you really want to find out more and talk about title suggestions? Good! Then meet us on Twitter today at 4pm ET.

To join the #followreader conversation, here’s what to do:

  1. Just before 4pm ET today,  log in to Twitter or whatever interface you prefer. (We recommend Tweetchat, which refreshes quickly and automatically loads your hashtag when you are in the discussion.)
  2. To follow the discussion, run a search for #followreader
  3. I’ll start by asking Jeff a few questions, before opening up the discussion to the group.
  4. To post a comment to the discussion, make sure that the hashtag #followreader is in each tweet you write.

About Jeff Howe (@crowdsourcing)

Jeff Howe is a contributing editor at Wired Magazine, where he covers the media and entertainment industry, among other subjects. In June of 2006 he published “The Rise of Crowdsourcing” in Wired. He has continued to cover the phenomenon in his blog, crowdsourcing.com, and published a book on the subject for Crown Books in September 2008. Before coming to Wired he was a senior editor at Inside.com and a writer at the Village Voice. In his fifteen years as a journalist he has traveled around the world working on stories ranging from the impending water crisis in Central Asia to the implications of gene patenting. He has written for Time Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Post, Mother Jones and numerous other publications. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Alysia Abbott, their daughter Annabel Rose and son Phineas and a miniature black lab named Clementine.

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When it comes to building online communities around books, authors and publishing imprints, what are the top social media platforms and analytical tools? To what extent can the results of these online efforts be tied to increased book sales? And which independent publishers are ahead of the game, and what obstacles do they face?

These are some of the questions we explore in the second part of my conversation about building online communities with social media consultant Jesse McDougall, which picks up where we left off in Tuesday’s interview

Q&A with Jesse McDougall

What are the top two or three technologies have you found most valuable in engaging audiences online?

Twitter for daily conversation. A blog as a conduit for book, author, and community content. Blip.tv for serving up high-resolution video with no size or time restrictions.

For tracking your success and progress, ChartBeat, HootSuite, and Google Analytics are essential.

What concrete results have you achieved so far?

In the first year after Chelsea Green implemented the new social strategy, the company roughly doubled their web traffic. Eighteen months after launch, traffic regularly spiked to 150% over the starting point. In that time, Chelsea Green added several thousand people to the e-newsletter mailing list, grew to become the second-most-followed book publisher on Twitter, and established weekly content delivery relationships with top blogs in the niche (Huffington Post, PlanetGreen, Alternet, etc.). Also. many of Chelsea Green’s authors were invited to become regular contributors on many of these same blogs—increasing the exposure to new and major audiences.

To what extent can you tie your results to increased book sales?

At the present time, the effect social media promotions on book sales can be difficult to track. The only time a publisher can directly track sales from online promotion is if a person learns of a book “out in the digital wild” and then follows the accompanying link back to the publisher’s online bookstore where he or she purchases the book. If the person decides instead to purchase the book from their favorite local bookseller, or from a different online retailer, that sale is difficult (or impossible) to track directly back to online promotional efforts.

The best a publisher can do—if they would like to prove that their social media strategy improves sales—is to boost their own site traffic through social media outreach, and then focus on boosting their own site’s sales conversion rate to do a better job of converting the new traffic to sales.

Which publishers do you see as most effectively marketing their books this way?

Chelsea Green, obviously, is still doing a great job. O’Reilly is another great example. Greywolf Press in Minneapolis is doing a great job on Twitter. The keys to being effective are consistency, personality, and community involvement. These are not one-way media channels, they require that participants speak AND listen. The presses above do a great job of that.

What are the biggest obstacles for independent presses in building and maintaining these online audiences?

Time and staff. Some of these campaigns require significant upkeep. It can be difficult to find the time and people to maintain a consistent presence on any of these social media platforms. The key is to do something every (week) day—whether you can afford five people for five hours, or one person for ten minutes. People who reach out and contact you in any fashion on Twitter or Facebook or your blog will need a response, or they’ll disappear.

Do you see any downside to giving away books or content online?

Books should be owned and content should be free. Content is stolen when publishers make it easier to steal than to buy. By locking up digital content with DRM or asking readers to sign unholy licenses or making content exclusive to one vendor, publishers are making it more attractive to snub the law and steal (and distribute) the digital content than to buy it. Publishers should offer digital books and chapters for sale for a slightly reduced price straight from their web sites in an open-source (or universal) format. Currently, a DRM-free PDF gets my vote, but I see room for something better.

What technological tools or developments are you most looking forward to in the coming year?

I’m looking forward to the development of mobile media. I think that high-quality digital content delivery through mobile devices with screens big enough for reading long-format books will revolutionize book reading and book content. Paper books will continue to have their place and incredible value. Lifelong readers recognize that and will continue to buy paper books for their unique virtues. Electronic devices will never be as good as paper books for quiet, powerless, peaceful reading.

However, once high-quality digital mobile content delivery is done well, book content can grow beyond paper and e-ink devices. Books will slowly evolve to look more like web pages, with links, supplemental videos, audio clips, and the book publisher’s intended formatting and design. Of course, plain text should still be an option for readers who don’t want to be bothered with the flash and bother of videos, etc., but the option for all the bells and whistles we’re already used to on the web should be available as well. The ability to include such ancillary content will provide publishers with an entirely new product that offers more than the bound book can or should. This new product could be a powerful new revenue stream.

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As the digital landscape evolves into subject areas with their own distinctive topographies and constituencies, some publishers have begun developing their own online “reader communities,” as a part of their long term marketing strategy for their books, authors and imprints.

One trailblazer in this area is social media consultant and web programmer Jesse McDougall, who I first met at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change conference in 2009, where he was clearly more evolved in his thinking on this topic than the other independent publishers in attendance that year.

Read on for the first installment in my two- part interview with Jesse – about the art and science of building reader communities.

Jesse McDougall in a nutshell: 

  • Current position: consulting under his own shingle at Catalyst Webworks—a web development and social media consulting firm in White River Junction, VT. Check out his blog here.
  • Biggest client to date: Chelsea Green Publishing, for whom he developed a web site redesign and online marketing strategies (for more details, see my Publishers Weekly article on how publishers use Twitter).
  • Recent star turns: at Tools of Change 2010, ran a social media workshop; at Digital Book World, appeared on my panel about Building Publisher Communities; and was a guest on our weekly #followreader chat on Twitter (recapped here)
  • Credits: author of Expand Your Business Using eBay and Start Your Own Blogging Business.

Questions for Jesse

What does online outreach to reader communities have in common with traditional book marketing, and how does it differ?

Books are social creations. They are borrowed, shared, recommended, and discussed in the physical world every day. Publishers send authors out to book signings, interviews, and speaking engagements in the hopes of bringing together like-minded book fans to ignite discussion and spark a hopefully-lively word-of-mouth campaign. The goal of marketing books online is no different. Social media platforms and new content recommendation tools not only make these digital communities possible, but they also increase the speed and range of the word-of-mouth campaigns ten-thousand times over. That means a person attending a digital webinar by an author has the ability to tell and invite 300+ friends with the click of a mouse, where a person attending a real-world seminar only tells his friends in town, and maybe only an out-of-work cousin can make it.

One of Chelsea Green’s most successful campaigns was to run a weekly contest on Twitter. This brief and easy 10-minute contest drew 40-50 people every week, and through them we were able to contact a total of 15,000+ people with links to our website. That exponential potential isn’t possible in traditional marketing.

In your work with Chelsea Green and other clients, what steps have you taken to build focused audiences within specific subject categories on the Web?

The internet is organizing itself into crowds. People are seeking out and aligning themselves with like-minded people. Home gardeners are finding other home gardeners, motorcyclists are finding other motorcyclists, and so on. These groups of people are taking part in conversations that can span all the major (and some niche) social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.

The first step is to examine the niches in which you publish. Once you’ve got a clear idea of the audience (or audiences) you’d like to reach, you must seek them out online. For example, there may be thousands of stay-at-home mothers talking on Twitter for the quick interactions it allows, but very few of them visit YouTube because they don’t have time for a 4-minute video.

Find your audience—wherever they are—and listen to them. Join their groups, or feed, or page, and listen to them. Join the conversation only once you’ve got a clear idea of the conversation and etiquette. Add value to the conversation by offering friendly expertise from your books—when and where appropriate—with a link to find more. Do not offer sales pitches. The content should sell itself.

Over time, your participation in the discussion should come to be seen as valuable, and therefore folks will pass along the content you provide.

How do you evaluate whether or not your efforts are paying off?

One of the most exciting aspects of online marketing—and something that I think spoils us for untrackable offline campaigns—is the ability to gather information about the audience. Most social media networks and blog software has the ability to display demographic and location information about the people choosing to participate in your online efforts.

For example, if, after reviewing your audience statistics, you find that your Facebook page is trafficked by women in their 40 without kids at 4PM, you can tailor your Facebook efforts to suit that audience. Perhaps you’ll post more information from books designed for that audience. Or, you might run a contest on the page at 4PM.

The data a publisher can collect about the people engaging with their book content is one of the main benefits to participating in social media—second only to the exposure to new potential customers. The social strategy should be, after all, focused on meeting and learning about your ideal audience.

Part Two of this interview is here.

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I’ve been noticing that “reader communities” keeps getting bigger on the tag cloud for this blog.  We’re talking about them all the time – along with a handful of other book blogs – and yet, I wonder if everyone could agree on what reader communities are, and how they work.

Moderating a panel on how publishers are builiding reader communities at the Digital Book World conference last month convinced me that there’s plenty to discuss. So today’s followreader chat (from 4-5pm ET) seemed like a good place to continue the conversation.

My guest today is Jesse McDougall, an independent consultant at Catalyst Web Works, who has done significant community-building work for Chelsea Green, an independent publisher specializing in green living and philosophy books.

 So join us today to explore some basic questions:

  • How are digital tools changing the ways that readers find each other and interact?
  • What does a reader get out of joining a community that they can’t have on their own?
  • How are publishers and authors building relationships directly with readers?
  • What results is it reasonable to expect from community-building efforts?
  • What are the top technologies for tracking engagement with online audiences?

And watch this space ext week for a more detailed interview with Jesse!

To join the #followreader conversation, here’s what to do:  

  1. On Friday, February 12, just before 4pm ET,  log in to Twitter or whatever interface you prefer. (We recommend Tweetchat, which refreshes quickly and automatically loads your hashtag when you are in the discussion.)
  2. To follow the discussion, run a search for #followreader
  3. I’ll start by asking Jesse McDougall (@jsmcdougall) a few questions, before opening up the discussion to the group.
  4. To post a comment to the discussion, make sure that the hashtag #followreader is in each tweet you write. 

 If you can’t join the discussion, watch this space next week for a recap of the highlights.  

Have a topic you wish we would cover? Please feel free to suggest topics for upcoming #followreader chats below.

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