In order to build direct-to-consumer sales, university presses should consider streamlining their publishing programs and focus on a small number of subject areas, even just a single area.
University presses cite a number of reasons to sell books directly to end-users. The principal reason is to establish a relationship with the customer. But once that relationship has been initiated, what business purpose does it serve?
Although there are clear benefits to being a large publisher to engage in D2C sales, there are practical steps that even the smallest publishers can take. Here is a summary of some options.
A research report on direct-to-consumer marketing is provided here. The study was first announced on the Scholarly Kitchen. The report includes a survey of current university press practices and recommendations for steps to take to improve performance.
A survey of university presses on selling books directly from their Web sites shows that for most presses, sales hover around 1% of total volume, but a concerted effort to improve Web marketing could increase that figure to 3% or perhaps even more.
Publishers can and should explore strategies that are built around users, which is a kind of D2C marketing. However, working on a direct basis has its costs and may make us all appreciate all the efficiencies that intermediaries provide.
The best way to increase D2C sales is to work in increasing the traffic to your site. Without traffic, there can be few sales. Unfortunately, the university press community has paid little attention to building Web traffic.
As university presses become more involved with D2C marketing, they are going to confront the need for clearly articulated privacy policies. The time to put those policies in place is now.
Database marketing opens up large business opportunities, but only if the data is used with restraint.
Digital media enables us to collect a huge amount of end-user data, far more than we could gather for print publishing. This presentation summarizes the way that data can be used to foster growth and concludes that end-user data is likely to require the creation of a new class of products.
This is an announcement of a university press research project, which includes a link to a survey we hope every book publisher will fill out. The project is sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The focus is on how university presses can sell books, both print and digital, directly from their Web sites. The project report will cover current practices and recommend courses of action.
A new publishing ecosystem is emerging that includes among its participants O’Reilly Media, Pearson, Safari Books, Barnes & Noble, Microsoft, and Liberty Media. This new ecosystem may come to challenge the proprietary ebook networks of Amazon and Apple.
Barnes & Noble can compete more effectively with Amazon by moving to a strategy of making its infrastructure available to numerous companies, many of which formerly saw B&N as a rival.
The strategies of established university presses can be enhanced by studying start-ups and slyly coopting some of their new and best ideas.
Leann Wilson and Marshall Poe revisit the idea of a unified online books platform for scholarly works.