Earlier this year we published research conducted by Bowker Market Research (BMR) into the increasing use of online communities by trade and academic publishers. The results picked up a lot of press attention at the time, having shown that two thirds of trade and academic publishers currently host their own online communities. BMR’s study also indicated this figure was on the rise with over 90% of publishers surveyed saying they expected to host communities within the next two years.

When BMR asked publishers why they felt online communities were an important part of their forward-looking strategy, we discovered that they felt that providing forums and channels in which readers could discuss books led to more engaged readers and a keener understanding of customers’ needs.

Since the research was published in April 2013, we’ve witnessed even more publishers invest in building communities.  Just this month, the leading children’s publisher Egmont, has launched an online community site called Jelly Pie Central which targets children aged 5-9 years old for its range of humorous books. Amazon Publishing has also built on its recent announcement that it would add comic and graphic novels to its ebook offering with the announcement that it would launch Jet City Comics, a digital platform for enthusiasts of this content, in November 2013. Nor is this trend restricted to trade publishers, as publishers like Reed Business Information have also dramatically enhanced the capabilities of their online platforms to drive traffic to their publications.

As publishers increasingly look to online communities as an engine for growth, we’re revisiting this research, beginning with a Book Industry Communications seminary on new trends in the publishing industry on 29July. The seminar aims to provide publishers with the knowledge and skills they need to use digital communications technology to boost the marketability and sales of their content.

Jo Henry, Global Director of BMR, will be presenting evidence from BMR’s study, and Jane Tappuni, EVP of Business Development at Ingenta, will be discussing the implications of findings for booksellers. They will be joined by seven other leading experts and innovators in the literary field, including Sara Montgomery, Head of Guardian Books and Matthew Cashmore, Digital Director at Blackwell’s.

The half-day seminar will take place on Monday 29th July 2013, near St.Paul’s Cathedral in London. To book your place, simply follow this link.