Martin JackMartin Jack, our Senior Sales Manager at IPR, attended the Quantum Conference ahead of the London Book Fair this week.  He took time out to share some thoughts and the key points that were raised during the day.  Here is his take on the conference, and the things he learned.

The first half of the day saw discussion on themes including publishing strategy in the digital age, marketing and discoverability, and the second half focused on the growing audiobook market. In addition to the publishing sector’s perspective, we had views from the advertising and broadcasting sectors.

This is an overview of the points and themes that were discussed:

We’re in the mid-digital age, struggling to adapt to the internet and what it means. We tend to look at the present through the rear-view mirror. For example, consider how similar print newspapers and digital newspapers are. Most companies tend to take what they do before, and then sprinkle tech on it. Rather, rethink the business models around the value of the new. Work around the new, don’t retrofit.

We need to think not in terms of ‘the book business’ but ‘the quality attention business’.

Publishing as an industry spends far less on marketing than other industries. Marketing should be less about reflecting your opinion and more about teasing out the opinions of others. You need to get people to react to what other people say.

IPR License Quantum Discoverability Panel

Photo: On the ‘Discoverability’ panel were Georgina Attwell, Toppsta; Alex Reads, Mostly Lit; and Michael Bhaskar, Canelo.  It was chaired by Annie Stone from BookBub.

Discoverability is the most difficult problem to crack and each year it gets harder. The role of the curator is disappearing.  Yes, there has been a rise in the number of bloggers/influencers, but you’re walking into a crowded room. With so much volume, you automatically look at what you’re familiar with. The more choice, the less likely people are to choose – and there is a tipping point. We need less choice and more diversity in that choice. More choice can be counter-productive. Extended choice is positive to a certain extent, giving users a lot of entry points, but it’s still a lot of noise.

Publishing strategy should be dictated by discoverability. Author branding should be central to discoverability strategy – this is the core thing which will dictate discoverability – and, lesser so, reader-centric branding. Choices on book eTailer sites are often as follows: 1. Author, 2. Cover, 3. Reviews, 4. Discount.

Should publishers be publishing less, but better? Maybe, but it won’t help the bottom line. There are commercial and company imperatives to publish more. Although many publishers may agree with the sentiment, none are actually living up to it.

Influencer marketing is about getting people to talk about products they like. Focus is placed more on marketing to influential people than the target market as a whole. It identifies individuals that have influence over potential buyers. It may not be appropriate to establish trust, however, as these influencers may be motivated by monetary factors to endorse and recommend. Working to establish brand advocates (offline influencers) seems the better choice, but some may wish to combine a joint approach.

IPR License LBF Quantum David Shelley and Jo Henry

Photo: David Shelley in conversation with Jo Henry

David Shelley, CEO of Hachette UK, was interviewed by Jo Henry, the new MD of BookBrunch.  They discussed how print books are holding their own, the eBook situation is fluid, and the audio books spike. David Shelley said: “I don’t think it’s [the audio book revenue increase] a blip…I think in five years’ time it will be a central part of our business…There is a massive untapped market for audio.”

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