Backlist titles in a digital world

It’s 2014 and you’re working on your digital marketing strategy to complement your swanky new D2C publishing website. Your customers, your readers want access to your full catalog they want it instantly on any device, or to be able to order the print version then and there.

Gone are the days of slowly browsing the stores and requesting delivery within a month. Consumers want to purchase then and there and have little patience for delays. This is fine for new titles which are at the forefront of your marketing plan, but backlist titles can easily be forgotten. How can you solve this?

Last week we attended Contec; described as the ‘base camp for global publishing trendsetters’. The event, covered a range of topics including a talk on: ‘How to make more of your backlist’. We drew three main conclusions from this talk in the context of how we work with clients. As an app developer, specializing in publishing; such parallels are important.

  1. Deliver what your audience expects

Rachel Love, VP, International Publishing at National Geographic spoke informatively about a publisher’s brand. Trailing through National Geographic’s backlist what stands out more than anything else is the brand. This covers content, design and most importantly expectations. As Rachel eloquently put: ‘Brand is a ‘promise kept’. It delivers content that an audience expects.’ If you apply this to publishing an app, what your customers expect to see is something familiar to what they’ve seen before. Identifiable, recognizable branding then, is key.

  1. Remix and bundle

Because the investment to create them has already been made, titles in the backlist often don’t demand the same levels of scrutiny on commercial grounds as newer projects. Remixing a package at more affordable prices, or adding in new modules to a package don’t devalue what once was.

Instead, bundling of the backlist can regenerate interest in a brand, and give loyal audiences new ways to read their favourite content. Try creating a supplementary video resource, or recording some audio files to accompany noteworthy issues or articles? Why not take a lead from other media and create a ‘director’s commentary’ audio accompaniment for particularly famous issues for example? Creatively implementing small changes like this can result in new revenue channels opening up.

  1. Use your data wisely

Digital technology give publishers access to more data than they could dream of. Much of this data is unmanageable and useless but a good portion of it isn’t. From page views, to bounce rates, time spent on page to choice of browser; the insights are invaluable. This data should be used to determine decisions around what next to publish. There’s no need to make a ‘gut decision’ around what to publish. The insights gathered from analytics gives even the most data-obsessed market researcher more than they get garner from surveys and opinion polls.

The distinction between back list and front list titles is going to diminish over time, as audiences are able to access both at ease. Popular back list titles are easier to update in digital format, and newer versions will appear seamlessly on devices; having been adapted in-line with increasingly accurate and relevant analytical reviews. Publishers will need to respond to this, whilst maintaining their brand and keeping that all important ‘promise’ between publisher and audience.

Branded ebook apps from YUDU are ideal digital storage for both front list and back list titles. To speak to us about pricing and how it all works, click here.

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