by Susan Ruszala, Director of Marketing, NetGalley
Since NetGalley’s introduction nearly four years ago, there has been a distinct shift in the tenor and orientation of dialogues about digital galleys—not if, but when; not why, but how.
That’s good news.
Despite this shift, though, one of the major hurdles still ahead is the acceptance of digital galleys by professional readers and publishers.
Note: “Professional reader” signifies anyone who influences purchases by reading and recommending upcoming titles. This certainly includes traditional book reviewers, but also book and enthusiast bloggers, off-the-book page media (print, TV and radio), booksellers, librarians, and professors who request desk copies.
On the face of it, supporting both a print and digital galley process seems redundant. In our conversations with publishers, however, we often hear that print galley quantities are determined more by budget than by need; entire segments, such as the library or bookselling community — both avid recommenders within their own geographic area as well as more broadly online — cannot be served by the number of print galleys available to shrinking budgets. For illustrated titles, the need is even more acute as costs are higher.
Without question, print galleys will rightfully live on, but the digital galley can go further, faster, at less cost, and bulging with supporting materials that would be cost-prohibitive in print. Adopting digital galleys isn’t a one-for-one swap, then; it requires a shift in strategy and tactics. Print budgets will not be eliminated but they will change; and the use of the galley within the publishing house will have to change, too.
One way that change will manifest itself is by stretching the use of the galley across the company. Publishers will succeed when any activity that can result in a galley request—from librarians to trade advertising to traditional reviewers to electronic catalogs to international rights—can be fulfilled with a digital galley. If multiple groups in an organization can use the digital galley, costs are spread across the organization, too.
Digital galleys are not intended as a replacement for the print galley; in many cases digital will supplement and promote print. (Michael Cairns of Personanondata recently blogged about a JISC study which supports this claim.)
Think back to when company websites first became standard practice.
Before there was the corporate website, there was the corporate brochure. Carefully crafted, reflective of its values, glossy, and artistic — and also extraordinarily constrained, expensive to produce, and quickly outdated. Today my safe guess is that there are very few corporate brochures produced solely to deliver information about a company. They are marketing pieces designed to impress; more experiential than informational.
A website, on the other hand, delivers both a visual impression and deep information about a company; it is only limited by how easy it is for visitors to navigate the site.
This is exactly where we are with digital galleys.
The digital galley ostensibly delivers the “same” content to your contacts, but just as visitors to your website navigate your pages according to their specific needs, professional readers will do the same with your digital galleys. The digital galley isn’t limited to what you can afford to print, or are inclined to stuff in your jiffy bag. Off-the-book page media covering the subject of your book can browse and search; broadcast media can access previous author interviews; bookstores can view the author tour schedule; professors can preview a companion teacher’s guide.
Other areas of the publisher’s front office are already making the shift to digital in earnest. Many publishers have introduced digital catalogs to replace the printed tome that once hailed a new season, using solutions like Edelweiss, or by building their own digital catalogs.
Why not include the capability to browse the full-text galley from within that catalog? This is exactly what NetGalley will soon be doing with Edelweiss, as announced a few weeks ago.
The digital galley has a variety of tricks up its sleeve, for sure; but are the readers ready? Some publishers have said to us, “I’ve asked my contacts if they would prefer digital galleys, and they say no.”
So your contacts prefer print galleys. Of course they do! As a publicist charged with pitching a particular book for a particular season, I’d ferociously resist any tactic that might jeopardize an opportunity for coverage. Like the corporate brochure, the print galley represents the traditional and comfortable way to introduce your contacts to new content.
This is why limited experiments for a few titles have limited success. Besides fostering confusion (why can I get this title but not this one?), too small of an experiment won’t support the effort required to convert your contacts to a new concept. The use of digital galleys must be accompanied by internal evangelization and external communication, a responsibility that we at NetGalley share with the publishing community.
User confusion is also cited in the JISC study, and informally on blogs and social networks which note that navigation, user experience, digital rights management and reading devices can all be barriers to adopting digital galleys. Offering your contacts a consistent and user-oriented experience where they can get many titles the same way will only help speed adoption rates. This is true internally, too; the goal is for staff not to focus on the tricky terrain of security and multiple formats, but instead on offering the digital galley as easily as possible.
Savvy publishers are already using digital galleys creatively in their marketing, publicity and sales efforts, a groundswell that is really just beginning. We’re looking forward to sharing ideas with you on this topic at Digital Book World during the session, Digital Tools: How the Sales and Marketing Process is Changing.
Thanks for reading and commenting.
January 13th @ 7 pm
Bowery Poetry Club, NYC
Join us for a fun night of publishing optimism, PechaKucha-style!
* 7 minutes * 20 slides * 21 seconds *
Stephanie Anderson, WORD Brooklyn
Ryan Chapman, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pablo Defendini, Tor.com
Joshua Simpson, Joshua Blake Photography
Debbie Stier, HarperStudio
Ward Sutton, Sutton Impact Studio
Hosted by Guy LeCharles Gonzalez and Ami Greko
Digital Book World’s NYC 7x20x21 is a PechaKucha-style event with a couple of tweaks.
Pecha what…? Kucha who…?
PechaKucha 20×20 is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images forward automatically and you talk along to the images. The presentation format was devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture. The first PechaKucha Night was held in Tokyo in their gallery, lounge, bar, club, creative kitchen SuperDeluxe in February 2003. Klein Dytham architecture still organize and support the global PechaKucha Night network and organise PechaKucha Night Tokyo.
Our sister publication, Print, has launched a new web series, Portable Print, featuring “the point of view of the discerning designer who isn’t going to settle for just any replacement for their beloved books and magazines.”
Have a digital reader, app, or other product to recommend or submit for review? E-mail them.
by Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Director of Audience Development, Digital Book World
If you didn’t know any better, you might be inclined to believe that eBooks had already hit the tipping point, representing far more than their estimated “3% of total trade sales”. Even allowing for the possibility that actual eBook sales might be twice as high as reported, the attention they receive can sometimes seem to be a bit disconnected from reality.
At last week’s eBook Summit, Kneerim & Williams’ Steve Wasserman noted: “I suppose we could sum up this entire two-day conference under the headline ‘too early to tell’.” Of course, eBooks are an important part of Digital Book World’s program — we’ll cover everything from optimization to pricing to their effect on contracts, old and new — but as Wasserman suggested, where they will ultimately fit in the overall picture has yet to be determined.
As such, Digital Book World’s focus is on the big picture — transforming the underlying publishing business model to leverage the advantages, and overcome the challenges, offered by digitization, while recognizing that the model is still predominantly driven by print sales.
Our Supporting Sponsor, SBS Worldwide, has been an integral part of the publishing industry’s supply chain for 26 years as the driving force behind freight management. Their chairman, Steve Walker, will speak at Digital Book World on how the digital transition has affected the supply chain and the opportunities it’s created.
In their latest bulletin, they published a fun interview with me about Digital Book World, reprinted here with their permission:
Registrations for January’s Digital Book World conference in New York, organized by New York-based F&W Media, are in line with expectations – and that’s good news for Guy Gonzalez since his business card reads ‘Director, Audience Development, F&W Media’.“We know potential attendees have to justify the expense of attending and the programme our conference chair Mike Shatzkin (of the Idea Logical Company) and his advisory board have come up with is absolutely on point,” says Gonzalez. “Reaction to Digital Book World’s underlying premise of ‘less talk, more action’ has been overwhelmingly positive.”
Gonzalez adds that registrants to date represent a broad range of publishers, from Random House and National Geographic to smaller houses such as romance and ‘new worlds’ publisher Samhain of Macon, Georgia. Gonzalez has a feeling that the talk by Brian Napack of Macmillan on ebooks and piracy “will get some people heated up”, while, as an advocate of publishers moving to “a community-oriented model”, he’s especially looking forward to the presentations by Sourcebooks’ Dominique Raccah and Hay House’s Reid Tracy.
There is much talk about iPod moments in the digital arena these days, but Gonzalez thinks we are not even close yet. “Books are not like music, at least when it comes to fiction. The album was a commercial construct that digitization made irrelevant. The ability to purchase only the singles you wanted couldn’t be controlled by record labels once they were available digitally. No one wants to buy Chapter 15 of The Lost Symbol!
“There’s a huge opportunity to revive short stories and poetry, though. And in non-fiction, especially areas like textbooks, cookbooks, and how-to, the iPod moment is already here. Many publishers, including F+ W Media, slice and dice their content for purchase by chapters or projects.”
There is also much speculation on what the size of the digital market is currently, and how much it will grow. Gonzalez says: “I’ve seen estimates that put eBooks around 2-5% of total sales, roughly similar to that of audiobooks. They certainly have the potential to expand the market and represent a bigger share down the road, especially as awareness has spiked, but I think projecting anything higher than 25% in the next 5 years is being irrationally exuberant. Certain niches, though, will be much higher than that.”
Born and raised in New York City, “although I’ve tried to move away several times”, Gonzalez now lives across the river in New Jersey with his wife and two children. He’s worked in publishing since leaving the army in 1993, chiefly on the magazine side of the industry which explains his enthusiasm for the niche approach and engaging directly with readers. “There are a lot of lessons for book publishers in the current state of the magazine industry, perhaps the most critical being that the closer you are to your readers, the more likely you’ll be to weather the storm of events beyond your control.”
What does he like to do when he’s not immersed in the digital world? “If you ask my wife she’ll say ‘not enough!’ – but I’m a writer too, so the fate of the publishing industry has personal relevance beyond my day job.”
And finally, it has to asked: “Mets or Yankies?” “Sadly, the Mets. I’ve always had a thing for the underdog. Might explain my love for print…”
Considering print still represents 94-97% of total sales, it’s a bit crazy to think of it as the underdog, no?
The publishing industry is notorious for jumping on new trends and milking them dry — making as many bad calls as good ones in the process — but despite the over-the-top hype around eReaders this holiday season, the reality is the digital transition is much more evolution than revoluti0n. Publishers who take the time to develop an integrated and viable long-term digital strategy are far more likely to survive than those who panic and jump on the fledgling bandwagon.
A love for print is neither nostalgic, nor impractical; for most established publishers, it’s the lifeblood that will fuel their transformation, and if done right, could potentially expand the market for books, not cannibalize it.