On Monetizing Podcasts and Book Marketing Analytics

Dec 05, 2019


A couple of weeks ago, I had the good fortune of traveling to Spain to be part of the 7th National Digital Congress, which is the gathering of hundreds of Europe's biggest publishers.

In addition to giving a keynote on the growing role of voice tech and AI in publishing, in support of my new book, More Than Just Weather & Music: 200 Ways To Use Alexa, I was able to take part in a number of other educational sessions, including learning about two exciting new companies that have significant potential.

1) Publica.la

Pronounced in America as just "Publica," startup Publica.la allows companies publishing content of all types – audiobooks, podcasts, PDFs, ebooks and more – to create a library of that content and monetize that library in various ways.

Backed by an investment from merchant processing giant Stripe, which itself has gained fame by becoming an unexpected publisher, Publica.la has gotten off to a fast start by enabling publishers to bundle content in interesting ways and create subscription services that, until this point, might have required custom development in order to accomplish.

Podcasters, always on the lookout for ways to monetize their shows, can take their library of old episodes, perhaps record a couple of exclusive new shows, and bundle the two together for a subscription using Publica.la that would generate additional revenue from listeners.

Publishers, whether in trade, academic or other types of publishing, have library-style options available to them with companies like Scribd. But being able to take content related to a particular book series – all the books themselves in ebook form, all the books in audiobook form, podcasts that the author has been a guest on, video interviews the author may have been a part of, other bonus content such as handwritten notes from the book creation process, or audio outtakes from the audiobook production process and more – and bundle it to create a library open to series fans is an interesting route to new revenue. There's no reason why publishers couldn't experiment with services like Publica.la while also providing content to mainstream subscription services at the same time.

2) Quantified Reading

It's amazing how important the marketing of a book is to its ultimate success. Everything matters, from the cover to the blurb to the reviews to the quality of the content itself in building opportunities for a book to be discovered by readers.

What's interesting is that despite all of the resources we put into marketing books, amidst our noisy world, we focus very little on how books are consumed.

Did readers enjoy Chapter 2? Were readers who said they enjoyed the book more likely to have read the opening intro, or to have skipped it? How many readers needed to re-read page 188? How long did reading the book take, for most?

These, and countless other questions, are completely unknown to us as publishers and content creators. And these are the questions that a new publishing startup called Quantified Reading wants to take on.

By applying deep analytics to studying reader behavior, the company hopes to unlock a variety of new ways to serve readers more effectively. Not only can authors use the information to hone their books in new ways more in line with their objectives, but publishers can glean all sorts of valuable insights, based on how books are actually read and processed by readers, that would influence how they are marketed to new readers and audiences.

It's a brave new world for companies seeking to apply technology to the world of publishing. Whether it's re-inventing the concept of digital libraries to allow publishers to create new revenue streams, or whether it's re-writing everything we know about how and what we read, these companies will be ones to watch as we head into 2020.


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