Joe Wikert

Reinventing the Book: How eReaders, Multimedia Content, and Social Reading Are Changing the Way We Read

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Over the last 20+ years I've been an author, a publisher and, most importantly, a frustrated member of the publishing industry. My frustrations stem from the glacial pace of change in publishing as well as a lack of true risk-taking at the highest ranks in our industry. Several years ago I decided to start thinking out loud about where the industry should be heading and posted those thoughts on my Publishing 2020 blog. Those posts are freely accessible by anyone with a web browser, but after 7+ years they're not well organized for a first-time visitor.

That's where Hyperink comes into play. I was recently approached by Hyperink to see if I'd be willing to let them curate my posts into ebook format with individual parts set up for each major topic area. I didn't have the time to do this, and since I'm a big fan of experimentation I accepted their offer to do the job for me.

What you're reading right now is the results of their efforts. I hope you enjoy it and one or two of the pieces get your creative juices flowing.

-Joe Wikert


Rethinking Samples

March 26, 2012

I'm bored with e-book samples. I feel like I'm collecting a bunch and then forgetting about most of them. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone and I'm even more certain this adds up to a ton of missed sales opportunities. Although this would be impossible to prove, my gut tells me the revenue missed by not converting samples into sales is a much larger figure than the revenue lost to piracy. And yet the publishing industry spends a small fortune every year in DRM but treats samples as an afterthought.

Think about it. Someone who pulls down a sample is already interested in your product. They're asking you to win them over with the material you provide. Far too often though that material is nothing more than the front matter and a few pages of the first chapter. Some of the samples I've downloaded don't even go past the front matter. I'm looking for something more.

Let's start with the index. Would it really be that hard to add the index to e-book samples? No. And yet I've never seen a sample with the index included. Sure, many of these books have indexes that can be viewed separately on the e-book's catalog page, but why not include them in the sample? Give me a sense of what amount of coverage I can expect on every topic right there in the sample.

How about taking it up a notch? Give me the first X pages of the full content, include the entire index at the end and in between include the rest of the book, but have every other word or two X'd out? That way I can flip through the entire book and get a better sense of how extensively each topic is covered. By the way, if the entire book is included like this then the index can include links back to the pages they reference.

Next up, why do I have to search and retrieve samples? Why can't they be configured to automatically come to me? After a while a retailer should be able to figure out a customer's interests. So why not let that customer opt in to auto sample delivery of e-books that match their interests? I love baseball. Send me the samples of every new baseball book that comes out. I've got plenty of memory available in my e-reader and I can delete any samples I don't want.

I've also mentioned this before but it's worth saying again: How about letting me subscribe to samples from specific authors? Again, it would be an opt-in program but I wonder how many interesting books I've missed because I didn't discover the sample.

Finally, this problem doesn't appear till after the sample is converted into a sale but why can't the newly downloaded e-book open up to where I left off in the sample? Seriously, this has got to be one of the easiest annoyances to fix, so why hasn't anyone taken the time to do so?

Buy the book to read more!



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