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The Secret to Online Ebook Discovery


We have talked about three of the 10 Factors to Consider when Developing your Digital Publishing Strategy, including audience, selling direct, and monetization. Today, we tackle discovery.

The way readers discover new books and content is changing and this is happening not just in the consumer trade publishing business. Discovery is moving from bookstores and face-to-face conversations to online discovery and referrals through social networks, and, as a recent study from Bowker Market Research shows, this is true even of ebooks. 

In fact, O'Reilly Tools of Change published findings in 2013 to show that 39 percent of their sample discovered books online, 27 percent through an online publication, and 14 percent through social media. 

So what does this mean for publishers? It means rethinking your marketing strategy to focus more on online discovery.

Here are 5 Strategies for Improving your Online Ebook Discovery:

1. Search Engine Optimization - a trick to making your content more discoverable is ensuring the you can deep link into your content to optimize and make searchable individual chapters and pages, not just entire text. For example, if you are a medical association, you might have a chapter within a publication on a particular illness. If that content is fully searchable and has been optimized with the correct meta data, your content will show up in Google searches. However, if all that can be searched is based on the publication name and high level metadata, you are less likely to show up in search. Using a digital publishing and distribution platform that enables this level of search and deep linking is critical.

2. Related Content and "Also Bought" Lists - smart e-commerce marketers and e-content creators have long since discovered the power of related content suggestions. This can be powered by engines looking for similarly tagged content or looking at the history of what others have also purchased/read. In fact, it was a driving factor in Stanford University's HighWire Press creating an integrated platform for its academic journals and ebooks (see more details below).

3. Direct Marketing and Email Marketing - as you begin to build direct relationships with your audience, you can start marketing directly to customers, beginning with building an email subscriber list. You can then send email campaigns to promote new content and segment lists to deliver personalized recommendations.

4. Promotions and Samples - Using email marketing, onsite promotions and online advertising, you can promote new content to audiences to increase discoverability. By offering coupon or promotional codes, as well as free sample previews or chapters, you can entice readers to take a look and make a purchase.

5. Social Media - with social media it is becoming easier to reach and engage with your target audience through broad networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest where readers will follow your profile or authors; to engaging where your audience is congregating in places like Goodreads, LibraryThing, or niche social networks and forums.

How HighWire Press Tackled Ebook Discovery
HighWire Press is a digital publishing technology partner to over 145 influential societies, university presses, and other independent publishers, hosting a massive library of journals, books, reference works, and other scholarly content. They knew that bringing journals and ebooks together under one platform would enable researchers to search and find relevant content regardless of publication format: journal articles or book chapters. Not only would this integration provide more value to readers, it would also raise journal customer awareness of related books and increase usage across a publisher's collection.

When HighWire decided to integrate its journal and ebook offerings under one groundbreaking Open Platform, they knew they needed to do it in a way that would scale quickly to support large content libraries, increase the discoverability of new content, and provide an easy-to-use interface. For that, they turned to Tizra.

"We considered many alternatives before selecting Tizra, but concluded that their nimble ebook tools best complemented the HighWire Open Platform, helping us expand our focus on discoverability and creating the most intuitive user experience," said HighWire CEO Tom Rump.

Working with Tizra, the combined ebook and journal offering was brought to market quickly, with the first Folio site for Duke University Press launched on schedule, offering more than 1,600 titles. Additional high profile customers soon followed, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and GeoScienceWorld.

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