I sat down with Emma McKay, managing editor at Askmen and the force behind their foray into ebooks, to talk about what happens when an analytics-driven web publisher enters the ebook space. The full interview can be found on O’Reilly’s Tools of Change blog. Here’s an extract:
Hugh McGuire: What sorts of ebook data would you most want access to?
Emma McKay: Real-time sales data is the top priority by far, but we’d also love to know how readers discovered the ebooks, and whether they purchased a single ebook or more than one. The big retailers are all collecting data on who is buying ebooks and how ebooks are being consumed, but they’re not about to share this information with us. So we’re also pursuing direct sales opportunities – among other advantages, this allows us to get to know our readers a little better.
HM: How would that data influence your ebook publishing decisions?
EM: The better we understand our readers, the better we can cater to them. Who are they, and where do they live? It’s always fascinating to track how content we publish on the site gets picked up in different corners of the world. Perhaps our ebook audience is entirely based in India. Or the Midwest. Either way, we’d like to know, so we could tailor our program accordingly.
We’d like to know whether our audience consumes ebooks in the same ways they do our website content – are they dipping in and out of them to get the advice they’re looking for, or are they sitting down for a couple of hours to read a narrative like Pakistan Chronicles from beginning to end? Are they looking to go deeper into a single subject, like they can with our titles Understanding F1 and Build the Ultimate Watch Collection, or are they looking for the kind of guidance we can offer with The Hair Manual (coming out this week) or a how-to-make-fitness-part-of-your-daily-life-for-life title like our recent hit Mission: Motivation?
We’re also interested to learn how readers discover our ebooks. If we could see that they were flocking to the ebooks from a specific source, we’d take a closer look at that source, and at ways we could build on whatever it is that’s working, whether this leads us to promote the books in a specific way or through a particular outlet, build new partnerships or establish a themed series or imprint.