How Big data is also changing the publishing industry.
Information technologies led to dematerialization of our lives. We no longer go to the store in order to buy a CD or a DVD, most of us download it and play it on our devices. The same goes for books, more and more people are shifting from paper books to digital books.
When music had its mp3 players symbolised by the legendary iPod, books now have e-readers where the main player is Kindle by Amazon. These shifts transform the whole publishing industry, books’ production, storage and distribution costs go down, increasing publishers’ revenues. They can also now focus mainly on the authors and their promotion, without having to anticipate the number of copies to make or how to distribute them.
As mentioned earlier, author promotion is now more than ever the main focus of publishers. Their main interrogation should than be, which author should I promote in order to maximize my revenues? This is when Big-data plays a new role.
Kobo recently released a report about Big-data and the Publishing industry. Their point is: publishers will not focus solely on the sale numbers of an author but more on the engagement its books generate. They argue that by tracking users’ reading activity, publishers will be aware if the buyer opens the book, if he finishes the book, how fast does he read, at what time, etc… With the following data they can generate rates such as readers’ engagement, being how many buyers finish the book, or opening rate, being how many buyers open the book.
This data can become a key asset for publishers. By checking readers’ engagement, they could spot which small or medium authors have potential to become blockbusters, or which kinds of books generate high engagement and thus higher sales. With opening rate, they can check customer reaction to book tittles or to check the efficiency of a promotion campaign.
Although I prefer the old fashion paper book, I can’t deny the practical aspect of digital books. I believe that as for newspapers, music or movies the ongoing trend will continue and lead to even more digital books. Although the illegal downloading threat is also an issue for this industry, I believe that e-books will benefit publishers that are able to grab the opportunity offered by Big-data.