Posts Tagged ‘Edelweiss’

I’ll be speaking on a panel at the upcoming Digital Book World conference on January 26-27 in NYC. The folks over at the Digital Book World blog were kind enough to ask me to post a preview on their blog; you can read it here. (I say “kind enough” because this is the most preparation I’ve had for a speaking assignment in years.)

The post sets out the case for digital galleys and offers my thoughts on the responsibility we face as an industry in helping our readers navigate the digital terrain.

Incidentally, John Rubin from Above the Treeline will also be on the same panel. Have you read about NetGalley’s recent announcement with Edelweiss?

Hope to see you there.

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Read on for today’s delivery of a pretty little package all dressed up with a big red bow.

Today NetGalley announced a partnership with Edelweiss. (Read the release.) Edelweiss, owned by Above the Treeline, provides web-based interactive publisher catalogs used by booksellers, retailers and other professional readers to research, organize and order new titles. Starting in early spring 2010, all the reading options you use in NetGalley can be made available inside Edelweiss’s digital catalogs.

Best of all, if you are a customer of both Edelweiss and NetGalley, this additional functionality will come at no additional charge. Edelweiss users will be able to read online and download full-text digital galleys. Publishers will continue to set reading options for their galleys, which can be uploaded with or without DRM.

John Rubin, founder and CEO of Above the Treeline, and Fran Toolan, Chief Igniter of Firebrand Technologies, NetGalley’s parent, opine below about how this partnership will benefit readers and publishers alike.

John Rubin, Founder and CEO, Above the Treeline (Edelweiss’s parent):

We’re really excited about partnering with Firebrand because, really, how can it not help readers and publishers?

We’re both trying to get info about new books to the people who care about them.With the recent demise of Kirkus, it’s more important than ever to develop new ways to spread the word. I have a lot of respect for what Firebrand has done with NetGalley and can’t think of a better partner. At the core, I think we see the marketplace in the same way that Firebrand does and have the same type of commitment to it. We’re both interested in helping the industry grow and transform in a way that works for all parties—publishers, retailers, media, authors, etc.. We’re both about solutions that work but that don’t undermine publishers and the authors they serve.

Fran Toolan, Chief Igniter, Firebrand Technologies (NetGalley’s parent):
“From my perspective, there are three main benefits to this collaboration. The first is that we are broadening our ability to deliver secure electronic galleys outside of http://www.netgalley.com, the second is an ability for us to potentially reach new customers, and the last is an opportunity to work on a project of real value with John and his team.

In this collaboration, a “widget” of reading options will be embedded into the Edelweiss catalog for titles in the NetGalley system. This widget will provide a list of options for a reader to access our secured content. These options will include our QuickBrowse function as well as our ability to download PDF’s or ePub files (with or without DRM) for use on reading devices. The development of this widget essentially allows us to bring the functionality of http://www.netgalley.com to any online catalog, website, or blog.

One of the very interesting parts of this collaboration is that if a publisher is using Edelweiss, they don’t need to be a regular customer of NetGalley. Under our agreement, if a publisher (who is not a customer of NetGalley) wants to take advantage of the new galley feature in Edelweiss, Above the Treeline will charge that publisher a nominal fee per title which will be shared by both of our companies. In essence, this gives publishers an opportunity to experiment with the reading options piece of NetGalley before taking advantage of its full functionality.

John and I have enjoyed being industry colleagues for some time now, and have looked for ways to collaborate in the past. This particular project is one that is interesting because of its simplicity and mutual benefits. I am very excited about proving our ability to partner on services to the industry. My hope is that over the next year there will be more announcements about a tighter integration between Edelweiss and Firebrand’s Title Management system.

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We’ve all heard the old adage that “fifty percent of advertising works, we just don’t know which fiftty percent it is.” But does it apply to book chatter on Twitter and blogs? And if so, now that it’s becoming possible to measure just about everything through digital analysis, do we have to accept that it’s still true?

Acacia Tree of Live via Hyd-masti.com

Which way to the Acacia tree?

Those were just a few of the questions in play at a recent #followreader discussion on Twitter, which yielded more than a few interesting facts and resources:

  • Many participants testified that they have purchased up to ten books in the last few months on the strength of recommendations on the social networking site.
  • Bloggers Anne Kingman and Michael Kindness, who are Random House sales reps by day, reported that more than 30% of their readers at Books on the Nightstand have bought three to five books based on recomendations on the site and 14% have bought six or more, according to the 252 respondents to their recent reader survey.
  • A recent survey of lit blog readers shows that 56% buy books primarily based on the influence of blogs
  • Mark Evans, who works with Edelweiss, the cool searchable catalog of forthcoming books that we’ve written about before, says that Edelweiss correlates book mentions on blogs and Twitter with point of sale information, and ranks the results.
  • Science fiction review blogs are ranked “pretty decently” on what looks like an inbound link/post frequency count at 42blips, according to @bloggeratf

Still looking for examples

As more than 60 people brainstormed together for an hour, only a few concrete examples surfaced of books whose sales were driven by book blogs. One title mentioned was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – which sparked major buzz early this year with online promotion of the book jacket and title. Another was the crime novel Hogdoggin’ by Anthony Neil Smith — a.k.a. @docnoir — who went on a blog tour for his book and posted the initial results.  

Still, it was a little puzzling that there were so few specific examples of books launched via blogs and Twitter, given the mix of participants, including many book bloggers and a healthy number of independent publishers and booksellers, a couple of publishing software developers, and at least one sales rep.

Reframing the question

One strand of the blogger reaction to the discussion topic was articulated by @Writing_Is_Fun: “But isn’t Twitter/blogging just people conversing? Do we need to quantify it, or turn it into a business model?” Meanwhile, those representing the publisher point of view, like Random House sales rep Ann Kingman, were more likely to point out that “buzz is great, but we need sales through the register.”

Some wondered if it would be more productive to reframe the question: “How can Twitter/blogging create more influence?” asked @gregpincus. “Has anyone figured out how to tell if a blog or Twitter campaign is successful?” added NetGalley’s @ftoolan.

Scroll down for some of the answers that surfaced during the session.

Enter Hugh MacLeod’s amazing blog-driven book launch

The same week we had our discussion, I noticed that Ignore Everybody by popular blogger and Twitterer Hugh MacLeod had hit Amazon’s Top 25. A quick call to Maureen CoIgnore Everybody by Hugh MacLeodle, his publicist at Portfolio (Penguin’s business imprint), confirmed that its rise was based primarily on blog and Twitter reviews. (Two weeks later, as I write this, the book is at #467 – not bad at all). 

MacLeod is a comics artist who created his website in 2001 as a way to sell his art (e.g. cartoons sketched on the back of business cards, and larger prints), and now attracts more than a million visitors a month. On Twitter, MacLeod has 17,474 followers as @gapingvoid.

Portfolio (Penguin’s business imprint) printed an extra hundred galleys to send to bloggers about a month before publication, and many responded with reviews and interviews with MacLeod around the book’s June 11 publication date, said Cole.  “A lot of the buzz online has been totally organic, and not because of anything we did – just people who picked up the book or pre-ordered it because they’re big Hugh fans,” she said. “It really helped that Hugh was already well known and respected on the blogs and Twitter.” The only print media the book had received was a brief mention in a USA Today roundup about 10 days before publication.

The answer is out there

So clearly, there are examples of Twitter and blogs driving sales out there. We just have to find them. If you have any you’d like us to  know about, please leave a comment below.

Meanwhile, let’s get back to the highlights of our Twittersation, which pointed the way to how it might be possible to increase –and measure — the impact of blogs and Twitter going forward.

Commercial impact of blogs and Twitter:

  • @PhenixandPhenix: A lot of the value with online buzz happens when you hit a tipping point. That’s why timing is important
  • @PhenixandPhenix: Blog/Twitter buzz attracts traditional media coverage. Producers, journalists are tuned in.
  • @MoriahJovan: I see a direct correlation between my Twitter presence and sales.
  • @DonLinn: We monitor hits in real time when I do Shameless Book Pimping [on Twitter]. Hits spike a little for short time.
  • @Deb WorldofBooks: I’ve seen one-day spike pushes on Twitter that were very successful, and ones that weren’t.
  • @BethFishReads: At least Twitter talk moves discussion beyond one’s blog readers and has greatly increased audience.
  • @jimnduncan: Twitter works I think if you can get book mentioned by the right Twitterer. Hard though since most folks follow and don’t tweet.
  • @WheatmarkBooks: I always recommend using Twitter to drive traffic to blog to drive traffic to book sales. It CAN work.
  • @DebWorldofBooks: If I see an interesting book on multiple blogs, I’ll tend to go buy them.
  • @npilon: Seems to me that blogs are never going to generate Oprah “big hits,” but increased sales across the board
  • @Wordlily: What about getting 100 blogs (cross-section) to share click-throughs to purchase the same book?
  • @mawbooks: But you’d need a heck of a lot of sales to make it profitable for 100 blogs.
  • @KatMeyer: In some cases (where blog is not BOOK blog, but topical non-fiction-related blog), a niche review can be huge, e.g. in gardening
  • @@LizB: True test is to pick older title and see what happens if buzz is made.
  • @susanmpls: When our books went live in Google Book Search, our backlist sales doubled PER BOOK. If book sold 4 units one year, sold 8 post GBS.
  • @susanmpls: For our books, academic and librarian list serves result in both desk copy requests (i.e. course sales) and buzz
  • @charabbott: What if IndieBound created a discount for buying books based on tweets by their booksellers or store blog recommendations?
  • @O_David: Could Indiebound give Twitter users & bloggers “affiliate” IDs that could be used in links and traced back?
  • @vromans: Does my blog result in direct sales (i.e click-through to buy)? Rarely. But indirect sales? Definitely. Booksellers tell  me.
  • @AnnKingman: @Vromans makes a good point: twitter/blogs great for branding, but mainstream publishers don’t benefit much from branding 
  • @AnnKingman: Publishers and bookstores directing energies to twitter/blogs means something else must go. So what should go?

How to track blog influence

  • @markrevans: Edelweiss could corrolate internet buzz and [point of sale] data on a given day –  I will see what we can do! 
  • @markrevans: Twitter and blog very different dynamics, probably easier to measure blogs
  • @AnnKingman: I think pubs value blog coverage, but measure it more in terms of “buzz” like traditional publicity, not like marketing.
  • @LizB: Affiliate sales [e.g. via Amaz0n] don’t show whole picture (and not all sales get mentioned in report)
  • @mawbooks: Unlike a bookstore tour where sales are more immediate, blog reviews can still generate sales years later
  • @LizB: [Reviews are] online until server goes down, etc. Electronic isn’t necessarily best archive.
  • @ReneeAtShens: A survey question asking, “Have you ever bought a book after reading about it on a blog or Twitter?”
  • @hmccormack: What about creating a Twitter bestseller list?

Please join this week’s#followreader publishing discussion on Thursday June 25 from 4-5pm ET. To follow to our discussion in real time, go to Twitter Search and type in #followreader. To add your comments to the discussion, follow @charabbott and @katmeyer on Twitter, and include #followreader into your responses.

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