This week Inspired Selection attended the final Byte the Book event before the summer break – ‘More Bucks for your Book – What Alternative Revenue Sources Work in the Digital Age?’ Eric Huang, co-owner and director of Made in Me, chaired the panel consisting of James Woollam (F&W Media), Xander Cansell (Unbound) and Asi Sharabi (Lost my Name). Eric started us off by talking about digital in the broadest sense, highlighting how the industry is changing and with this change, there are now revenue streams quickly becoming available that do not include selling physical books. It’s not about traditional publishing dying, he was quick to assure the audience; it’s about what we are doing right now and embracing new opportunities to create digital revenue.
At F&W Media, known five years ago as David and Charles Publishing, a traditional print publisher, they knew they needed to make a change in terms of what their business was about, so they did three key things:
1.) Focused on illustrated non-fiction categories and created tailored communities within those categories in order to engage with and bring their consumers together
2.) Committed to a digital strategy
3.) Committed to becoming consumer focused
By launching an e-commerce business F&W Media were able to create brands in order to build relationships with their end consumers. They also started to sell companion products; this allowed them to shape their print business around digital products from just one commission.
Unbound took on a slightly different method, they are crowd funded and their main focus is the interaction with the author in order to allow that consumer connection. By combining interesting technology with emotion and what a book means to the author and the reader they have been able to create a 360° experience for both parties, building communities around each published product.
Asi launched ‘The little boy (girl) who lost his (her) name’ allowing people to create their own, personalised book; these are created digitally and then printed on A4 environmentally friendly paper and then sent to the user. Asi’s idea started as a hobby when he saw an opportunity to turn this into a revenue stream. Coming from a digital agency background rather than publishing, he has taken a different approach which has been hugely successful, showing us that innovation doesn’t necessarily have to come from publishing but it is these new ideas that are growing and expanding the publishing industry that we see today.
Fundamentally, different revenue streams have to be adapted depending on the product and also on the market but it seems there are a couple of key factors just based on these few examples from the panel discussion last night…
- Free must be part of the package in order to compete with those already offering free content online, as well as in order to drive traffic but also, turn that traffic into revenue.
- It must be about the consumer – whoever your market may be, the product, and the strategy must be tailored towards them and allow them to become fully engaged in a real, interactive community (not just a Facebook page)
- Content is king – we hear this time and time again but it is a valid point, people won’t engage with content if it’s not interesting or not something they want to read – it must be high quality, it must adhere to the brand and it must add value (whether it’s free or not.)
Finally, if you’re looking at different revenue steams to support your book then one of the biggest things is a mind-set change. If you can see your vision and create a brand in which people can trust whilst tapping into your niche market then alternative revenue streams can absolutely be successful – just don’t forget it is all a part of publishing that we can all embrace.
Here at Inspired Selection, we are passionate about the publishing industry; we talk about publishing, read about publishing and attend all major publishing events like the one you’ve just read about. We would love to meet you at events so do feel free to come up and introduce yourselves! If you’re interested in opportunities within publishing do keep in touch and register for our Vacancy Update Service as well as keeping up to date with us on Twitter.