Why bother about book discoverability?

“Discoverability” has been one of the hottest buzzwords in the ebook industry for the last few months. Attention paid to this concept stresses a new challenge for any publisher: How to make their books stand out among all other offerings out there and increase their visibility? The Web can provide many potential solutions to this situation.

Discoverability’s importance in the increase of publishers’ revenues

Publishers invest substantial amounts of time and money in the digitization of their new releases and back catalog. They must do everything they can to increase the likelihood of deriving profit from these investments. Discoverability can extend the sales period for new ebooks and allow for (re)discovery of older ones, thus leading to more sales.

The various sources of discoverability

Many paths can lead a reader to discover a book. Andrew Rhomberg — founder of Jellybooks — mentioned various sources of discoverability during a webcast hosted by Digital Book World entitled “Book discovery in a digital and social age”. I added an example to illustrate each of these paths.

1. Serendipitous discovery: An ebook cover catches your eye while browsing through your favorite bookstore’s offering.
2. Social discovery: You read a quote from a book that one of your friends shares on a social network.
3. Distributed discovery: You read a book review on a newspaper’s website.
4. Data-driven discovery: A website analyzes your previous purchases and wish lists in order to suggest books that might interest you.
5. Incentivized discovery: You receive a complimentary e-copy of a new book as part of a publisher’s promotional campaign.

There are other discovery sources, but the ones listed above have been experienced by Jellybooks and its readers.

Cantook increases your ebook discoverability

Our ebook distribution platform Cantook already allows publishers to document a large number of metadata fields, which facilitates searches in bookstore or library catalogs (this is why it’s important to care about your metadata). De Marque has also inked a partnership with social network Tumbz to allow their users to directly link their profiles to ebooks hosted in our digital warehouse. Our flipbook can also increase discoverability by linking an excerpt to a cover picture on Pinterest, among other social networks. Our promotional services also enable publishers to send free digital copies of their books. Assisting you in the discovery of your titles is always on our mind.

Discoverability itself is not sufficient

But increasing the likelihood of book discovery and sales requires much more foresight. Rob Eagar — the founder of Wildfire — provided some of his thoughts in a blog post published last year on Digital Book World’s website:

[…] discoverability is ineffective if it doesn’t generate spreadability […] The goal of marketing […] should be to tell readers what’s in it for them, fuel the desire to purchase, and encourage them to spread word of mouth. Discoverability without spreadability creates a marketing disability.

It’s likely that you already bother quite a bit about discoverability, perhaps even without knowing it; you must now give the subject extra thought and dare to explore new ways to get your titles out there. Plan your commercial strategies and tactics to provide readers with many entry points to your ebooks and to make them want to purchase and share their discovery. People spend more and more time on the Internet through multiple devices, some of which (smart phones, tablets, etc.) are also used as e-readers: your challenge is to get your ebooks to them!


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