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August 2014
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October 2014

5 posts from September 2014

Savas Beatie offers a sneak peek at SmartLayers premium editions

Savas Beatie is an innovative publisher of military history books. In fact, they have the distinction of being the first publisher to release an ebook featuring the SmartLayers technology we've developed here at Olive Software.

If you'd like to get a sense of what SmartLayers looks like, watch the video embedded below. If you'd like to see how easy it is for a publisher to leverage SmartLayers, as well as learn why Savas Beatie chose SmartLayers for their premium ebook solution, be sure to join us for a free webinar tomorrow, September 30, at 1ET -- click here to register now.

P.S. -- This initial SmartLayers premium ebook, Richmond Redeemed, is available exclusively on the Savas Beatie website (cllick here for the book's catalog page).

Dumb content on smart devices

The original Amazon Kindle is almost seven years old and the first iPad was released more than four years ago. Plenty of other e-readers and tablets have followed and the digital content marketplace is vibrant. So why do we spend most of our time reading dumb content on smart devices?

I’m talking about ebooks, newspapers and magazines that are oftentimes nothing more than digital replica editions of the print versions. “Print under glass” is how they’re sometimes described and I think that sums it up.

The phone in your pocket contains more computing power than an Apollo spacecraft yet we’re still largely consuming content that rarely, if ever, takes advantage of the device’s capabilities.


One reason is because the old model works. People are used to reading content in a print format, so why change? More importantly, change is hard, expensive and often requires the publisher to overhaul their editorial and production process, all of which is costly and risky, particularly when the new model is unproven.

An alternate solution is to add digital capabilities in layers to the existing print format. IOW, keep your current editorial and production model in place but layer on digital content and capabilities as a post-production process. Test a few titles out, see which ones do well and invest in even more digital layering for the winners.

Curious to hear more about this? Join us next Tuesday, September 30, at 1:00PM ET for a short webinar where you’ll hear from a publisher who is already doing this. Click here to register now for this free webinar.

In the future, all content will be layered

Once upon a time the broadcast model was the only viable option for content distribution. The newspapers, magazines and books we read were the same regardless of our personal interests or where we lived.

The web and other digital models offer more personalization, of course. That’s why your Google News feed looks considerably different than mine, for example.

In the not-too-distant future I believe we’ll see a radically new level of personalization beyond the keywords and other techniques used today. That new model will feature layers of content, with each layer customized for a different user experience.

An example helps illustrate this vision…

Apple likes to update their Mac OS X operating system from time to time with plenty of new features. The best way to communicate what’s new in the next release depends on whether you’re educating a long-time Mac user or a complete novice. I’ve been on the Mac platform for several years now so I don’t need guidance on the basics. A newbie needs that information though, so how can Apple (or a third-party publisher) create content that addresses the diverse needs of expert and novice as well as everyone else in between?

One option is where the application presenting the content offers different views depending on the reader’s knowledge level. For example, there would be user level buttons where the reader can tell the ebook app how knowledgeable they are so that the content is customized for their level.

It’s important to note that the base of content remains the same for all users. But by providing a bit of information to the app, the user gets an experience that’s more in line with their needs. Layering the content enables publishers to offer multiple lenses through with the material can be viewed and each lens is optimized for a different type of user.

Content layering is something I’ve been writing about for several years now. That vision is starting to become a reality thanks to work being done at Olive Software where I serve as director of strategy and business development.

I invite you to get a glimpse of what I’m describing by attending a free webinar we’re hosting later this month. The event takes place at 1:00ET on September 30. Click here to register and reserve your spot.

How book publishers can build a compelling direct channel

Disruption has radically altered the book publishing industry and the rate of change shows no signs of slowing down. Publishers have developed a love/hate relationship with Amazon, particularly as they struggle with the mega-retailer’s annual demands for more favorable terms. The Hachette/Amazon dispute is simply the latest and most publicized example, but it certainly won’t be the last one.

Book publishers need to address their reliance on a single distribution partner by focusing on the only channel they totally control: direct-to-consumer sales. But simply offering a direct alternative isn’t the solution. Publishers must offer consumers a compelling reason to buy direct; up to now, this has been easier said than done.

To solve this problem I'm is pleased to announce a free webinar showing how publishers can build a compelling direct-to-consumer channel. The speakers for this event are myself and Ted Savas, Managing Director at Savas Beatie LLC.

This session will show publishers how to diversify their channel strategy, become less reliant on Amazon and deliver maximum D2C results. Here are just a few of the topics we plan to cover:

  • The benefits of selling direct
  • How direct and indirect can coexist
  • How to create exclusive, premium editions of your ebooks using Olive’s SmartLayersTM technology
  • How Savas Beatie is using SmartLayers to increase direct sales of their titles

Please join us at 1:00PM ET on September 30 for this 30-minute session – click here to register now, as virtual seating is limited. We’ll save the last 10 minutes for audience Q&A, so be sure to bring your questions and learn how to apply these tools and techniques to lessen your reliance on Amazon and dramatically increase your D2C results. 

Three lessons from comScore’s latest mobile apps report

comScore recently published a 15-page report on the state of mobile apps. It’s well worth reading in its entirety, but if you don’t have the time, here are the three big takeaways for content publishers:

Mobile apps are the new digital engagement king. Prior to 2014 the combination of desktop plus mobile browser was where digital engagement was happening. Now mobile apps are the leader, but there are some caveats. 75% of a user’s time is limited to four apps. Given that trend, what’s the likelihood your new app will replace one of those popular four? The key here is to make sure your content plays well and is seamlessly integrated with the apps that are already attracting all the eyeballs.

Mobile is just one critical element of a device-agnostic strategy. Digital engagement on the desktop isn’t dead. In fact, according to the Comscore report it’s up 1%. OK, that’s not exciting growth but it’s important to note that desktop engagement is holding its own...for now. So while the combination of apps and mobile browsers represent 60% of total digital engagement, the 40% represented by desktop is still significant enough to warrant attention. Does the user experience change when a customer shifts from consuming your content on a phone to a tablet or desktop? Don’t treat any device/platform as a second-class citizen. Even though mobile apps have all the momentum it’s important to make sure you’re not forcing your customers to learn a new UI when they switch from one device to another. (Hint: Think HTML presentation/consumption.)

Downloaded and then forgotten. An earlier report from Nielsen indicates consumers typically use 23-27 apps per month. If you’re like me your phone already has a heck of a lot more than 27 apps on it. And I’ll bet you’re downloading several new apps every month, but for the most part you’re probably still using the same ones over and over. So we’re all a bunch of app hoarders. We download a new app, maybe open it once or twice and then abandon it. Remember that old saying about how it’s easier to sell something new to an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one? Someone who has already discovered and downloaded your app is closer to engaging with your content than someone who may not even know the app exists. So what are you doing to remind (or incent) inactive users to open and take advantage of that app they downloaded?