What digital publishers could be doing with metadata
Digital publishers are finally cluing in to the fact that they could (and should) be using metadata to better market their digital publications to their audiences.
Quite frankly, it’s about time! If bookstores can categorise their stock according to genre, recommended age group or even alphabetically, digital publishers should be able to utilise metadata in order to maximise sales and know their market.
E-book publishers have recently started discussing the critical importance of gathering data about readership and consumption of books, and how it can be used to transform the industry.
The possibilities for this are endless – especially for smaller publishing companies who may only have contact with customers through the bigger online sellers such as the Apple Store or Amazon.
While there are certain things that can be assumed about customers from how they source their books (the obvious example being that people who purchase digital books are likely to be more technologically savvy than their offline bookstore counterparts), there is even more knowledge to be gained from collecting user data from digital publications.
Publishers could determine what kinds of books a particular customer buys, how far into a book the customer reads or even reading habits such as how long the customer reads for at a time and at what time of day.
From there, publishers could recommend titles, authors or genres based on the metadata provided to them within their own applications, or learn how to better advertise their works to a similar market.
While the potential for collecting market data for ebooks and publications is great for the publishers themselves, there are of course the usual privacy concerns for consumers. However, from a publishers point of view, sales can only benefit from a greater understanding of a customer’s relationship with their book.
The fact is, with ebooks on the rise, consumers no longer need to visit a physical bookstore to find out about a book and purchase it. But how will they know if they will actually read the book if they haven’t perused, flicked through or received any recommendations? How will they discover these new titles?
That’s where social media can help. Websites such as boikeno draw from what books you have enjoyed, in order to recommend to others either like you, or on your Facebook friend list, might want to read. Essentially, it’s like Pandora or Pinterest, but with ebooks.
Publishers could even benefit from the rental of online books, if publishers such as HarperCollins would stop focussing on issues like insisting on circulation cutoffs from libraries (though that’s an issue for another time).
Libraries could provide the publishers with daily circulation figures and any correlation between book rentals.
While we’ve talked a lot in this particular blog about what publishers could be doing, as yet it’s unknown whether the majority will or not. As is the nature of the digital publishing industry, only time will tell how far this market will take them.
Flickr image by Luca Butti.