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12 posts from April 2013

LinkedIn as publisher

I'm drawn to LinkedIn now more than ever before. The rate of connection requests I've been receiving there has also been accelerating over the past few months. Maybe it's due to all the uncertainty of the publishing industry but I think there's more to it than anxious job seekers.

There are all sorts of terrific publishing groups on LinkedIn where opinions are shared and discussed. A good example is our TOC LinkedIn group; check out the stats here. We're rapidly approaching 20K members. If you're not a member you're missing a great deal of terrific industry banter.

You may have heard of LinkedIn's recent acquisition of Pulse. Although Pulse isn't my favorite news platform it's probably in my top five. It's the combination of LinkedIn and Pulse that intrigues me though.

LinkedIn has always been a great place to network with others in your industry. Adding a dedicated content service like Pulse is smart and I believe it's just the first step in LinkedIn's goal of becoming a publisher. Well, I'm not sure they'd consider "publisher" as one of their future roles but that's basically where they're heading.

Lifelong learning is important today and it's only going to be more important tomorrow. We've all had to adapt and grow professionally more than our parents had to. Our children will be asked to grow and adapt more than we've had to. As LinkedIn becomes the Google of job and career search you can bet they want users to spend as much time on the site as possible. What better way to do so than to offer a variety of self-improvement and professional development content for all those lifelong learners? Looking for an entry-level accounting job? Here's content explaining the 10 most under-appreciated features of Excel. Want to become a better salesperson? Here's a piece on how to close the deal. You get the idea.

Just as Google recently bought Frommer's to feed travel content into their search engine I fully expect LinkedIn to sign more deals to acquire rights to job training, career development, professional certification, etc., content. Some of the material will be written exclusively for LinkedIn but a lot could be redeployed from books.

So although they won't publish books, just like Google isn't publishing Frommer's books, look for LinkedIn to add more and more content to their service. And if you're a publisher (or author) with a rich set of career and professional development content you should consider reaching out to LinkedIn to see if your content might be a good fit on their platform.

Direct sales of ebooks in multiple languages

O'Reilly has long been a leader in fostering community and building a direct sales channel. This week we took the next step in enhancing the customer's direct buying experience by offering German editions for many of our ebook titles. Take a close look at the bottom of this screen shot:

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 10.17.46 AM
I grabbed that image from the search results for "Windows 8" on our website this morning. If you click on the English title you'll see this screen:

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 10.18.00 AM
You can either buy the English language version from here or click the Deutsch link in the bottom right corner and this edition is displayed:

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 10.18.25 AM
We're in the process of adding more German titles to our online catalog and you can expect to see other languages added in the future as well.

Why is this significant? As I've said before, I believe every publisher needs to build a direct channel so they aren't overly dependent on other retailers. I'm not suggesting a direct channel replaces other retail channels but it's a very important extension that helps publishers establish a relationship with their customers, learn from the data generated and create even better products in the future. By adding other languages to the assortment we're making it easier for anyone around the globe to find the O'Reilly content they want on one site. And, of course, it's all being delivered with the multi-format (EPUB, mobi & PDF), DRM-free approach pioneered by O'Reilly.

Pre-publication samples

This one has been nagging at me for years and I'm amazed none of the major ebook retailers offer a solution. I'm talking about the ability to pre-order an ebook sample prior to publication. Today I received a bulk email from Eric Metaxas, author of Seven Men, telling me the book is "now available." His team either pressed "send" prematurely or they just want us to pre-order today. The print book doesn't release till tomorrow and the ebook doesn't come out till a week later. (Btw, why is a publisher delaying the ebook's release by a week? That's such out-dated thinking.)

I don't want to buy the ebook today but I'd love to request the sample when it's available. The ebook isn't released for eight more days so the sample obviously won't be available till then either. The chances of me remembering to check back next week and request the sample are close to zero.

So why not add a button that lets me pre-order the sample now? You don't have to send it to me now, but have it sent to me on April 30 when the ebook releases. How hard is that? More importantly, how many sales have been lost because this sample pre-order button doesn't exist?

Lessons for all PR professionals:

  1. Never send the email blast saying the book is available the day/week before it actually is available.
  2. Tell your publisher to make sure the ebook is available the same day as the print book, not a week later.
  3. Tell your publisher and/or retail partner to implement a sample pre-order button for all ebooks. Better yet, make the ebook sample available on your own website, in all formats (EPUB, mobi, PDF), before the book releases anywhere else. What do you care if it gets out in to the wild and everyone shares it? It's called "establishing a direct channel with your customers", and it's a good thing to do.

P.S. -- The reason I'm on Metaxas' mailing list is because I read his amazing book Bonhoeffer a year or so ago. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. It's one of the most inspiring books I've ever read.

Why Paperight should be distributing your content

The opening statement on Paperight's "about" page says it all:

Paperight turns any business with any printer and an Internet connection into a print-on-demand bookstore.

This isn't just about distributing content through copy shops though. Paperight helps make content available in the developing world. That's why Paperight was named "Most Entrepreneurial Startup" from TOC's Startup Showcase in February. They're opening an entirely new channel and serving the needs of readers who might otherwise never have access to this content.

That's also why O'Reilly recently signed an agreement with Paperight. We're thrilled that Paperight is distributing our content and I want to encourage you to sign up with them as well. You can learn more about the Paperight/O'Reilly distribution deal here.

Please take the time to learn more about Paperight and get your rights team in contact with them.

Author (R)evolution Day videos now available

If you missed TOC's first Author (R)evolution Day you missed a lot. Cory Doctorow kicked things off and more than 20 speakers followed with terrific presentations on marketing, audience development, choosing service providers, and my favorite topic, data.

The room was filled throughout the day and we know there were countless others who wanted to be there but simply couldn't make it. That's why we recorded the entire event. You'll find more than 5-1/2 hours of Author (R)evolution Day programming in this $19.99 video product. Cory will be pleased to know there's no DRM or other irritating technology restrictions on this content. In true O'Reilly fashion, we trust you as our customer and want you to have the flexibility of either streaming or downloading all the video to your computer.

If you're an author searching for marketplace success you'll definitely want to purchase this video collection. Let us know what you think about the programming for our first Author (R)evolution Day and stay tuned here for more information on future events.