Apps as Communities

At the London Book Fair recently, YUDU CEO Richard Stephenson gave a short 20 minute talk about the necessity of book publishers using apps to build not just e-commerce portals, but communities alongside them, that can help market both the publishers and its intellectual properties. In this blog I’ll just briefly recap and underscore some of those points.


One of the major advantages of apps we’ve talked about often here at YUDU has always been that they essentially act as self-contained environments for a publisher to mould and craft as they see fit. We’ve spoken about this before at YUDU in the context of apps as “micro-bookstores”, for example, the fantastic History of Humanity iTunes app, acting as a container and storefront from the eponymous book series detailing the history of the species.

Beyond this however, there’s the question of how book publishers can use these apps to facilitate the creation of actual communities. The question is clearly of great financial value to publishers themselves, with Amazon wrapping up a $150 million purchase of the book-based social media site GoodReads in April, so the idea of blending the idea of social-media “communities” with existing platforms clearly has traction amongst the very biggest players and trend-setters in the industry. Independent projections seem to coincide with what Amazon is thinking, with Bowker Market Research estimating that the number of branded communities created by publishers set to double by 2015.

There’s a simple reason behind why creating these branded, publisher backed environments matters so much to the publishers themselves. Namely because, as Jordan Weissman has pointed out at The Atlantic, publishers increasingly rely on extremely dedicated individual readers, for whom tailored environments in which to share their material with like-minded individuals would be an extremely attractive proposition (which GoodReads has already demonstrated with its success). On top of this, it represents a way for publishers to gather book-related data right down to the most specific metrics imaginable, something that has received less attention insofar as Amazon’s purchase of GoodReads goes, but nonetheless represents an extremely valuable analytics resource. Naturally, YUDU’s own micro-bookstore apps support similarly micro-levels of data-gathering that our own clients make solid use of.

So bringing these advances under a single umbrella in an app-environment that can act as both digital storefront and community hub is what we see as the next logical step, and we’re very excited about what book publishers are going to be able to do with this all-in-one solution.

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