There is much ado about the middleman in the world of eBook publishing as of late – why rely on digital retailers like Amazon and Apple for distribution? The one-sided nature of this fraying relationship has prompted some publishers to branch out on their own. HarperCollins, one of the world-leading “big 5” publishers, recently announced that they will begin selling eBooks direct to consumer. According to EContent, HarperCollins will now “…have the tools to analyze all online purchase data, which will lead to expanded decision-making capabilities.”
As we reported earlier in our research into online communities, other trade publishers have taken a stab at directly marketing to the consumer, and now HarperCollins will attempt to further bridge the elusive publisher-consumer gap with their new e-Reader App for Android and iOS. While this platform is being tested out on titles by C.S. Lewis, the author of the Narnia series, there is no telling what kind of impact a successful launch of an in-house e-Reader app has on the publishing industry as a whole. If all goes well, HarperCollins will extend this new e-commerce model to all of their online properties.
One of the most enticing features that this D2C model has for publishers is the ability to access and analyze sales data. With tools for analysis in the hands of publishers, sales and marketing tactics can be better utilized and data can be pored over with a fine-toothed comb. This new attention to data analysis will help publishers detect the demands of the consumer and promote specific brands and titles.
It will be interesting to see if any other major publishers jump on this bandwagon and abandon their heavy reliance on online distributors. It’s safe to say that these global publishers have the infrastructure and the means to develop e-Reader apps, but will they take the same risk as HarperCollins did by forging their own, unconventional path? It will be an interesting development to watch.