Category Archives: New Product Development

What is the success of a concurrent book / mobile app publishing strategy?

Craig Ramsay's Mobile Apps

What is unique about your publishing? Do you have a game changer?

Successful publishing has always thrived on unique stories

One thing I learned early on in my publishing career was that sales success relies on having great and compelling stories to tell, and that without a great and compelling story to communicate to your prospects, the media and the booksellers, you might as well not publish.

Better still: if you’ve got a “game changer” you can share, and you can focus all your marketing and sales resources on it, you will be the golden boy/girl of your division or business unit. That’s because you provide the sales and marketing teams with “uniqueness”, which makes their lives easier, and their work gratifying.

Here is a story about uniqueness in todays fast changing digital publishing world.

Technology in the gym 

Ipods, iPhones and smartphones are very popular in the gym. Most fitness enthusiasts take their device into the gym with them.

When you’re dazed and confused  

Now, imagine your typical gym person: they are on their third or fourth visit to the gym in two weeks; they’ve had their induction from the gym supervisor, and they are still feeling a bit insecure about the equipment and the right and wrong exercises they ought to be performing. They’re feeling a bit lost and they want advice and tips about exercises, sequences, sets and repetitions. They look around but it’s intimidating: other fitness zealots are busy with their own workouts, and the trainer is doing an new induction, so he’s not available.

A exercise book on the bedside table

Our gym newbie has an exercise book at home, which sits beside the bed, which they’ve studied several times, before going to sleep. However, when our fitness newbie is in the gym the next day, they are overwhelmed by the extent of the equipment and the choice, and they don’t know where to start, what piece of equipment to use, how to use it properly, nor what exercise to do next.

Books in the gym – not cool!

Our exercise fanatic doesn’t want to take their book into the gym, because they don’t want to appear foolish or stupid – after all, this is muscle building, not a book club! So, books in the gym are not cool!

So the book stays at home, but our user is trying to remember the exercises he / she needs to perform and is thinking “I wish I could remember which “biceps” and “triceps” exercises there were in the book”  and “what what did the trainer say was the best technique for the bench press exercise?”

When a desire becomes a reality 

Well, that customer desire for more nomadic and personalised mobile instruction in the gym is now a reality.

In a series of apps we’ve developed with our Partners Moseley Road and personal fitness coach Craig Ramsay, we’ve done something pretty smart. We’re taking the content from the Muscle Anatomy series and we’ve re-engineered it for the small screen. But we’re not simply following the structure of the books. We’re splitting the content into different apps. That’s because we don’t think an app should duplicate a book. If it did, it would simply overwhelm the user with too much information on a small device. Instead we craft the app for a purpose. In the case of the muscle building anatomy title, that purpose is be a fast and simple “aide memoire” for use in the gym, providing what the user needs “in a blink”.

The game changer 

But the best is still to come: the apps we’ve engineered from the muscle building anatomy title provide something the book does not: they allow the user to hone in on the specific muscles they would like to target, and provide specific exercises designed for that muscle group. So when our users are the gym and they want an exercise for their biceps and triceps, they can navigate straight from the “muscles” menu and locate the best exercises for those muscles in a blink. That’s something extra, that the book does not do, but which the app is perfectly suited for.

Do you have a unique publishing story for your sales and marketing teams? 

If this is the kind of story you would like to be able to talk about on the cover of your books (“this book includes an app for you to take into the gym”), and it’s the sort of story your marketing and sales teams would like to be able to tell the media and booksellers, and you see it as a way to build strength in your brand, and differentiate from your competition, we’d love to hear about your experience, challenges and successes in the world of concurrent app / book publishing. Write a comment below or, if you’d rather, use the contact form

Can Book Publishers Be App Publishers?

How to market an app

Can book publishers be app publishers?

Are apps failing publishers, or are publishers failing at apps?

According to Forrester (DBW 2012): US publishers’ “love affair” with book apps is “officially over”!

How can that be when the smart phone and app downloads markets are both forecast to grow exponentially? See the volume forecasts by Gartner and comment by Facebook CTO, Bret Taylor, who calls the explosion in smartphone adoptions “the most important technology trend since the advent of the Internet”

So, how can publishers be failing to capitalise on what is such an extraordinary digital publishing opportunity? I think the following business and organisational considerations are key to understanding that dilema.

Center of gravity  

Book and app publishing are not the same. In book publishing, the centre of gravity – the focus of activity – is located in sales and production. The bulk of the activity goes into managing print runs (production), authors, suppliers, distributors and retailers (a whole bunch of intermediaries). So in traditional publishing an inordinate amount of effort is required to manage and join-up both ends of the publishing spectrum: author and bookseller.

In contrast, the centre of gravity for app publishers is the user experience (brand) and customer relation with few intermediaries to manage. That’s because the model, its urgency (short product to market cycle) and pricing cannot support the complexity and management of intermediary relations. Hence, app publishers are not structured to manage relationships.

Instead app publishers are small nimble teams with a huge capacity for work and a love of authoring, graphic design and technology. The core business is quick and effective repurposing and refashioning of assets to suit small tactile screens and enhance the mobile app experience. In app publishing the focus of the activity is on the user and on ensuring the user will delight in navigating and using the app, time and again.

Types of marketing 

Sales of apps are transparent; they occur in realtime and the app publisher has a country-by-country sales record of every download and adoption almost the moment the  transactions occur.

Hence the app publisher can measure the effectiveness of every marketing initiative it drives within 24 hours of it being actioned. Viewed through this lens, marketing is less about campaigning (campaigns have a beginning and end) and more about on-going brand and customer interaction.

And it becomes the requirement of every app publishing business to reach and engage with its customers directly 24/7, 365 days a year. And this is the rub:to interact  INDIVIDUALLY and PERSONALLY. Online publishers of all ranks need to spend time here: managing the relationship with end users. That’s an investment in time and probably a organisational restructure, but it’s mandatory.

With digital giving consumers access to every kind of information anywhere, anytime, publishers must have complete mastery of how prospects access and consume content at every stage of their customer journey, from an early awareness to a readiness to buy.

Therefore, the crucial job of marketing in publishing today is to understand where prospects hang out, what sources of information they consult (online and offline) and what content most influences their purchase decision. They must also master the innumerable ways they have to facilitate this marketing intelligence program online, via email, surveys, discussion forums, blog posts and microblogs etc…

Evolution of app marketing 

With app publishing, the fundamental basic questions publishers need to answer for better app marketing are

  1. How do my customers prefer to access information?
  2. Do they attend events? In-person or online?
  3. Are their organisations and emails listed anywhere, can I build a customer database and reach them with my direct mailing campaigns? (this is the most important single element of  e-commerce)
  4. Do they get their information at work or at home? If so in what form?
  5. Do they get their information through word-of-mouth from their peers, if so via which channels?
  6. Also, does advertising play a role?

Gathering essential information for marketing an app

For the past eight weeks my colleagues and I have been focusing our efforts on a suite of apps destined to help boaters and sailors worldwide. Our starting point was to immerse ourselves completely in the world of our users and to experience what it is to be stood in the shoes of skippers, instructors and trainees. To that we had to reach out and dialogue with people in nautical training centers in our three biggest international markets.

This provided the information we required for effective product development, for testing the apps and for engaging our affiliate communities early in order to forge trust, acceptance and pass along word of mouth.

Getting the right mix of channels for app discovery

Knowing our prospects preferred some communications mediums and formats over others was another critical piece of the puzzle: we needed to know in advance how we would make our apps discoverable and for this we needed to know what they preferred: reading blog posts, following Twitter or viewing YouTube? This provided the clues we needed for our marketing effort (you can have the best app in the world but if no one knows about it, it might as well be the worst app in the world). Our marketing plan was a no-brainer: we cross-referenced the most popular search topics on the highest traffic formats and prioritised the these in our communications plan.

The best indicators of marketing performance were frequency of views, how often people commented on posts or tweeted or shared information. This provided the basis for measuring the conversion ratios.

Specifically to our project, we identified that video sharing, blogging, micro blogging with social network (Facebook) are the preferred channels in the boating and sailing world. Offline, boat shows and consumer magazines are were identified as key channels too but few and far apart. Ultimately, however, we discovered that 60% of our communications needed to focus on targeted mailing lists – the sort of lists that allowed us to generate 50% open rates and 40% CTRs. The channel was critical to rapid and sustained adoptions.

App store marketing

Some app publishers will say that the biggest wins for them come from having a great relationship with the App Store. This has been undoubtedly true for some publishers. But being awarded App of the Week wouldn’t make a lot of difference to our ColRegs project. That’s because the target group is too niche for “app of the week” to matter. We are long tail and we will soak up the sales over time, organically through search. So, we have to focus our energies on creating the best search marketing out there.

Search Results 

So far (and we’re only eight weeks into our activity) our search performance (SERP) has given us first page ranking with four spots out of a possible ten indexations (including #1 for non-paid search) on Google and top level ranking on YouTube. That’s not bad for just 60 days’ of trading!

The Title P&L

The title P&L for an app requires new data: consumer (not trade) sales, lower distribution costs, few production and no manufacturing costs, different channels to market and most crucially of all weekly conversion and download rates; set these to something realistic and exceed them, different time scales too, which are longer-tail, “evergreen” rather than “coniferous”, and price points and marketing costs that are realistic.


I hope that publishers’ love affair with apps is not dead, but instead that publishers will learn and adopt a new approaches to consumer app publishing and marketing.

How to improve mobile app discoverability and increase mobile app downloads


How to Optimise Discoverability Of Mobile Apps

How to Optimise Discoverability Of Mobile Apps. Photo Credit: gadget_media Flickr

As we prepare to launch a new series of branded mobile educational applications for ocean goers, we want to put everything we can on our side to ensure our mobile application does not get lost in all the noise and our discoverability is optimised.

To help ensure greater discoverability we’ve had to have a focused approach to product marketing throughout our creative process.

From kick-off: marketing and the process of creative app development 

Before we gather around the drawing board at iGlimpse, we like to start with the analytical stuff (just as we we did when considering a new books and their viability); first we look into what kind of app types and user experiences are currently being positively reviewed. We study rankings, user reviews both in the app store and across the web and we download and play with mobile applications. This enables us to better map the functionality, building blocks, coding and plan the critical stages of development and production.

Only once we’re happy a product matches the needs of a target audience and that there is a commercial gap do we begin storyboarding and wire-framing the application screens. Only when we’re sure we’ve scoped our project fully, do we get stuck into production, applying frequent alignment meetings throughout to ensure we stay track, to make corrections and improvements, spot bugs early and stay on course to hit the milestones in our critical path plan. With testing and bugs, rewriting code is no fun at all, so we aim to get everything right from the start.

What’s our mobile application?  

Our mobile application is an educational tool that helps sailors identify the types of vessel and the activities they are engaged in at sea, as specified by the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (Col Regs).

The app provides “iGlimpse” access to schemas, graphics and descriptions of the lights and shapes in the Col Regs and the rules that apply to them as well as featuring a “Test Yourself” section.

Using a single code base and a bridging mobile framework that supports 7 mobile platforms, our app will be platform-agnostic and ready for distribution in multiple stores simultaneously.

But, like new books, new music releases or new film releases, the app needs to be discoverable through search, promoted and priced correctly to ensure its sale.

Our application is launching into a crowded marketplace in which Col Regs are available in many formats including books, flashcards, videos, DVDs and apps. To stand out from the crowd our USPs are: iGlimpse access, ease of use, convenience. These elements coupled with our designer graphics will ensure people enthuse and review the app positively. Word of Mouth is probably the most important single piece of marketing we’ll achieve.

Who are our users, where do they hang out and what sails their boat? 

As well as the many existing sailors of small and larger vessels, our users include trainees on the RYA Day Skipper Courses and their trainers. There are about 155 000 new recruits annually. Our users are of mixed age / gender; they could be Apple, Android or RIM enthusiasts, they are online savvy, they like gadgets, they have disposable income and they actively seek content that helps them improve and grow in their preferred pursuits. We prefer to apply psychometric tagging rather then demographic tagging so are more interested in their likes and pain points than their income bracket or age. Outside the pressure of the Day Skipper Course and the exam, trainees read specialist sailing / motor boat magazines, they are on Twitter and Facebook, they like brands, they search on Google, YouTube, DailyMotion and VideoJug and they are hungry for material that will inspire, inform and entertain them. They also support the RNLI and attend events like the London and Southampton boat shows. London 2012 will be a big focus point for our community. Boating enthusiasts are fascinated and fearful of collisions at sea!! The metrics we’ve studied confirm all the above. Our customer persona is the best guide we have for our marketing decisions.

Routes to market

The app market is a tough and unforgiving place. The app store models are fundamentally optimized to drive pricing down and this is a hard model to build anything other than a hobby business around until you reach notoriety and critical mass.

Discoverability is a big challenge and we’re fully aware that the shelf life of an application, from a revenue earning perspective, is lower than it is for books and music. So the big question for us is: How do we get our application discovered?

We know we’ve got to enable discovery and trial so we can do three things:

  1. produce a demo video to host on YouTube and embed in social media (blogs, FB, Twitter etc) that replicates the user experience
  2. segment our product into a full ‘paid’ version and a lite ‘free’ version, so we maximise downloads and can focus on conversion to paid.
  3. we can also create a storefront around our application, where the user downloads a base application that is free, and, via an in-app purchase, we can augment that users application by adding new content or new functions.

Promotion and PR 

With so much available content we’re conscious we need to support and manage our community of enthusiasts. We’ve already found the concentrations of users which means we can target the channels they hang out in online and offline.

We know who the opinion leaders are, who the influential bloggers and press reviewers are and we’ve got the marketing content assets ready to supply when they request them. This is where the video showcasing our application and our promotion codes will seamlessly integrate with our communications.

Mistakes and assumptions we must not make: 

We must not ignore paid-for-marketing and make the mistake of thinking word of mouth on its own will drive sales – it won’t

We must not assume that sufficient enthusiasts searching searching with keywords will discover our app – they won’t

We must not forget that there are several app stores we need to be visible in

We must not leave the marketing till launch or post launch – priming our market for readiness is key


The app stores can be a casino for developers but we believe our decision to publish fora clearly defined community of users means that we’re better equipped to anticipate our product marketing. We come from media backgrounds and know the value of great content. Because we are starting our marketing early, we stand a better chance (but not guarantee) of getting our app and supporting marketing materials into the hands of the opinion leaders before we launch. And we will continuously nourish, moderate, manage and maintain buzz in our verticals.

What advice do you have for ensuring better discoverability of mobile apps?

Where do publishers need to invest now to be future ready?


Where do publishers need to invest now to be future ready?

Where do publishers need to invest now to be future ready? Photo credit seanmcmenemy Flickr

I’ve been prompted by Korash Sanjideh, the Creative Industries iNET Broker, to think about a series of workshops that would strengthen the regions publishing brands and safeguard their future in the post digital age.

The Truth: Digital revenues will not be enough to compensate shortfalls 

Dan Franklin, Random House’s digital editor, says that the publishing industry is looking “into a void . . . heading into the unknown”.

It’s an uncomfortable truth, for most UK publishers revenue from their traditional revenue streams is tailing off and revenues from their lower priced digital products is not sufficient to compensate the shortfall in cash.

But publishing needn’t look into the void and a series of workshops that put the real dilemmas in publishing at the heart of the debate will help publishers be better informed and better equipped to refocus theirs businesses in the digital age.

Hence, a program of workshops designed to help publishers strengthen their businesses for the digital age will need to consider some of the following critical issues:

  1. The value chain. Has your position in the value chain been altered? Are the critical success factors that once defined you as pertinent as before? Are your specialist skills in editorial, print buying, time to market, content editing, content creation, manufacture, distribution and marketing as valuable as they once were? Read more on this question here
  2. Author needs. Are your authors or potential authors or subject experts still relying on you as an intermediary (connection to readers/users) or are they exploring their own direct relationships with readers via blogs and online social media? What bundles could you offer your authors to remain relevant?
  3. Content for social community. Beyond traditional authored content, what other ‘user generated content’ could you aggregate and leverage into your publishing model to provide discoverability for your online community of interest? This content needs to be relevant, social and sharable.
  4. Content affiliation. Which commercial stakeholders share content needs online? Are there any publishing partnerships to be forged with non-publishing companies seeking content for marketing and sales and to enhance their customers’ experience online? The budgets that brands are willing to spend on great content are significant and worth investigating. A high turnover of refreshed content is needed online.
  5. Relations with online distributors. How should you manage your relations with the large online distributors? How can you grow these relations whilst building direct-to-consumer relations?  Now that customers are identifiable, contactable and trackable online, publishers need to build their businesses around customer knowledge and proximity.

Cultural shift

Undoubtedly the biggest and most powerful change in publishing needs to be cultural. The cultural shift involves moving the focus in the business away from product (book or magazine) to consumer / reader.

From a focus on content to a focus on community 

So, if you’ve been a gardening publisher for 15 years, you need to reinvent yourself as the provider of gardening know-how, expertise and solutions to all stakeholders in the world of gardening.

Refocusing a publishing business in this way means no longer considering ones business to be publishing but rather to be a key player in the industry of gardening and building and maintaining a brand community around gardening. That means focusing the key assets (human, IP and technological) on the brand community development. The Harvard Business Review looks at getting brand community right in more detail.

Viewing the core activity through the lens of community is the route to longer life expectancy. Core transformation in the genes of the business creates a new and essential vibrancy that breaths new life into publishing teams, providing much needed vital energy and dynamism to build a stronger business future. I’ve reported on my own experience of driving and managing this kind transformation in publishing here

Publishing businesses that transition to community in this way will discover that they have many new revenue streams to embrace. It means that dependency on their eroding books sales vanishes and is replaced by a new range of opportunities.

Evolving the revenue drivers in publishing 

Andrew Davies, a friend and colleague at idio Platform provides a useful “ABCD revenue driver framework” which I’ve used on several occasions to help clients think through strategies for their publishing businesses. Briefly the framework looks like this:

Audience revenues: This category covers revenues that are a function of the audience size: purchase price and advertising and sponsorship revenues.

Brand revenues: This category denotes brand extensions such as events and new products in which the brand name is strong enough to develop new products in other categories. A publisher specialising in photography can develop, promote and manage photography field trips.

Content revenue: This is the opportunity for supplying the asset to other stakeholders. Magazines and book publishers can use their writers and their specialist knowledge to create branded content for other companies. Air France commissions Gallimard to do this in France.

Data revenue: As direct-to-consumer relationships increase, data becomes a more valuable asset for every publisher. This might be in the form of selling on marketing lists to interested brands, building insightful research from aggregate data, or selling through ancillary products to the current audience.

If I were to devise a program of workshops for publishers in the South West it would look something like this:

The focus would most likely be on implementation rather than idea generation because participants would need actionable takeaways.

My Approach

I would develop a list of possible topics  and invite publishers to whittle down the list to three or four core subjects to be the focus of deeper debate and exploration. The list would most likely include the following topics:

  • eBooks marketplace / impact
  • New publishing paradigm
  • Marketing and sales
  • Getting and making use of data
  • Exploring revenue streams
  • Exploring paid subscription services
  • Reuse and recycle content
  • Build partnerships with Key retailers
  • Online community management
  • Develop new distribution channels

Putting detail around the topic and asking businesses in the target group to rate the topic for relevance on a scale of 1 to 5 would help shape a program of workshops relevant to the needs of the target group.

What other topics would you expect to see on a workshop list of this kind?


How specialist magazines can drive value from brand community

Brand extensions are a new revenue stream for magazines

Brand extensions are a new revenue stream for magazines

It was interesting to be a visitor at the Specialist Media Show.

On the journey to the show I swiped through the quotations on my iPhone to find this one: “No man is really happy or safe without a hobby, and precious little difference the outside interest may be – botany, beetles or butterflies; roses, tulips or irises; fishing, mountaineering or antiques – anything will do as long as he straddles a hobby and rides it hard.” I made a note of this quotation which resonated with me when I first saw it carved in wood in the reception of Krause Publications, Inc in the US.

From the moment I arrived at the show in Peterborough, I recognised the ossification I’ve experienced before when viewing production in the special interest publishing sector. Somehow the sector seems to suffer more than others and seems blinkered to the opportunities of digital innovation and partnership. Yet, with community at its heart, the special interest publishing sector ought to be reinventing itself and embracing digital. Why isn’t it?

As Joseph Schumpeter said when he observed the arrival of the railways in the UK in 1936, “it upsets all conditions of location, all cost calculations, all production functions within its radius of influence; and hardly any “ways of doing things” which have been optimal before remain so afterward”.

That’s how I feel about old media categories like special interest magazines, for which the business models, labels and cloistered culture no longer make sense. To think like the stereotypical specialist magazine is tantamount to suicide. It must be reinvented.

As I looked at the magazines in the racks, I thought of my boys. At 15 and 19 respectively, they’ve already consumed more media than I have in my lifetime. Yet they’ve achieved that without a single magazine subscription and despite growing up in France, where magazine readers are only second in number to the US!

What we’re seeing with digital media is a shift away from medium to content and audience.

Therefore, I question whether publishers of special interest magazines can any longer afford to believe that they work in an industry or a sector? Would it not be wiser for them to think of themselves as the doyens of community and to serve their community in every which way they can?

After all aren’t the new entrants and start ups already wooing the brand account managers and media planners who look after the advertising and sponsorship decisions for brands? Will savvy app developers not soon command larger communities of special interest than the magazines and aren’t the interactive advertising techniques available on mobile devices more appealing and more relevant to their audiences?

Let’s be frank, magazines are now competing with the brands they once hosted on their pages.

Rather than be protective of their audiences, publishers need to realise that future value lies in their brand communities, and that they need to experiment with new ways, marketing models and partnerships that leverage community.

Clever publishers in the special interest sector will reinvent themselves and see that their business is community not product and this new way of defining themselves will inform their investment decisions.

In the long run the winners in publishing will be those who understand they can build stronger, more dynamic communities by broadening the media experiences of their members beyond an approach that is cloistered and outmoded. To do this publishers must move fast to build savvy and exciting partnerships with digital innovators who share a passion for their communities but who have invented new models to align with changing times. Only by embracing a more collaborative approach to serving communities will publishers be able to hang on to their title of “doyen” of community. And only by retaining this title will they retain the sympathies of account managers, media planners and buyers.


iGlimpse: Eight Reasons to Love Apple iPhone & iPad

iGlimpse Makes IOS Apps for Apple iPad and iPhone

iGlimpse Makes IOS Apps for Apple iPad and iPhone

At iGlimpse our clients and partners frequently ask us why we’re so keen on Apple.

This is largely because our focus on IOS helps us hone the categories we publish into as well as select the brand partners we work with.

But there are also 7  strong commercial reasons for choosing to love Apple IOS:


1. Kids love ‘em

Kids love Apple

Kids love Apple - credit Paul Mayne Flickr

Kids worship Macs, iPods, iPhones and the iPad. We’re witnessing a generation shift to Macs.

Not just kids; all age groups including silver surfers are switching to the sleek silver aluminium cased objects at school and at home and as they discover the wonderfully intuitive software that lives on them and allows them to be digital wizards.

The hardware and applications are the drivers of such rapid growth in Mac users. The last quarter saw Apple set a new record of 3.47 million macs sold in the quarter with a growth rate of 33% over the prior year’s quarter.

The next-generation of Mac buyers are also iPhone and iPad users because everything that is Mac is researched and integrates so intuitively.

2. The App Store

Apple has the largest direct-to-consumer customer base in the world. And although the payment processing channels are still controlled by the credit cards and PayPal, changes are afoot with the arrival of Near Field Communication (NFC) which will allow Apple to build yet closer relations with its customers. We like businesses that build proximity with their customers and Apple has proven their attention to customer service throughout time.

3. The iPad

The photo below was taken in Exeter Shopping Centre, a sleepy town in South Devon, UK, on Friday 25 March 2011 which wad iPad 2 global launch day. When I Tweeted the photo, a local businessman responded by saying half his workforce was in the queue!

People queue for iPad 2 outside Exeter Apple Store Friday 25 March 2011

People queue for iPad 2 outside Exeter Apple Store Friday 25 March 2011








The desire and kudos of iPads is already famed, both on a personal and institutional level.  Last Spring the market predicted Apple would sell 1 to 4 million iPads in 2010.  Actual sales registered 15 million iPads making it the fastest growing consumer product of all time!

iPad Sales Momentum vs other Consumer Electronic Product Launches

iPad Sales Momentum vs other Consumer Electronic Product Launches








This year, the market expects Apple to sell 30 million iPad 2s rising to 60 million in 2014.

Apple will sell 60 Million iPads over the next 3 years

Apple will sell 60 Million iPads over the next 3 years







All this is good news for iGlimpse because people are spending money on iPhone and iPad Apps. In fact,  the average top-25 iPad app ($5.03) costs 3X more than an iPhone app ($1.55) and there are 65,000 iPad apps on the App Store.

Now consider this: there are over 100 million books referenced on Amazon. So you can see the growth potential.

4. Soon everyone who wants an iPhone will own one

Apple has just launched a series of TV ads in the US that are aimed at people who’ve never owned an iPhone. The ads explain how users can use their iPod on their phone. They are selling the $49 version of the iPhone 3GS at AT&T (T).

Apple’s future pricing strategy can only go one way and this will be a major threat to Android because unlike Apple, Android users have little brand loyalty and will quickly upgrade to an iPhone when they can afford one. Watch this space as the Apple competitive pricing battle gets underway.

5. More Apple mobile devices means more Apple iPhone / iPad Apps

In January 2010 Apple announced that 3 billion apps had been downloaded in the 18 months following the launch of the AppStore. ABI Research predicts growth in App downloads is set to continue over the next 4-5 years:

IOS Downloads will grow

IOS Downloads will grow









6. Each IOS mobile device has an average 60 Apps on it

In January calculated that 60 apps have been downloaded for every iOS device. This means that IOS Apps reached 10 billion downloads in less than half the time it took songs to reach the same number on iTunes (31 vs 67 months.)

Perhaps more amazing still is the same study shows apps to be running at above 30 million downloads per day with downloads increasing in line with the growth in the installed base of devices which is increasing at the same rate.

7. iPhone and iPad users love Sport and The Great Outdoors

Sport is a healthy category as this app category graph from Nielsen shows.

Sport: a healthy category with iPhone / iPad users

Sport: a healthy category with iPhone / iPad users

The data justifies our decision to start developing apps for the leisure marine sector where we found few good apps being offered and where we now have 3 water sport apps in development and ready for sponsorship ahead of the UK Olympic Games in 2012.





8. Chinese consumers love Apple

At iGlimpse, we’re also focused on geographic territories, something our international sales and marketing experience taught us whilst working at Dorling Kindersley.

China has huge potential for IOS apps in the categories we’re developing such as Golf.

We’re confident Chinese people will adopt iPhones and iPads because Apple’s four Chinese stores have the highest traffic and highest revenue of any stores across the entire company including New York, London, Paris and Tokyo. The future for Apple, IOS, iGlimpse and its brand partners looks bright.

We’re interested in hearing from brands with a stake in the outdoor leisure sector seeking ways to enhance their customer experience and capitalise on mobile app marketing.

Get in touch by visiting our website or, if you’d like to read the business case to publishing iPhone and iPad apps click here.




Rethink How You Do Everything: A Lesson From The National Trust

The National Trust: core transformation

The National Trust: reinventing core business

Confronting Change

Every business needs to confront change at some point along its cycle. Yet change isn’t simple and the fear of alienating core customers whilst trying to win new ones is a strategic dilemma that challenges every business and its leadership team.

No one gets out alive

Museums, charities, restaurants, pubs, hotels, attractions, clubs, broadcasters, cinemas, newspapers, magazines and book publishers (the list goes on), all need to align with new market forces in order to make their businesses emerge stronger and fitter in the future.


Managing change means managing a portfolio to ensure new and relevant products and services are being developed in time to satisfy emerging needs. The Boston Growth-Share Matrix helps us do that.


The challenge for any business is being nimble enough and the danger is only doing what you’ve always done and expecting to satisfy new customers with new tastes by asking them to order from the old menu. They won’t enjoy their meal, they won’t come back and they won’t recommend.

Sign of the times

One conversation I’m hearing a lot in the media and publishing sector is the following:

“We want to find ways to make our business more engaging and lively online. If we do this, we can be more relevant and attract a more diverse audience of younger people who want to engage at a different level with our brand and help us grow. But our traditional customers don’t come for that. So, how can we find a way to be relevant to the new without alienating the old”

Audience development isn’t a series of concentric circles. You can’t start with the people you traditionally serve and build infinite circles of new customers outwards. Instead a business has to shift, and shifting means some people will leave as others join.

Customer segments

There’s no better way to understand this challenge than to sit down and analyse the personas that make up your existing and potential market. Good customer segmentation will help a business see whether it can reconcile the needs of an existing audience under one program or whether it needs to service each segment separately in order to grow and retain the traditional cash cows to ensure an effective and timely transition from old to new. It’s a juggling act that is not for the faint hearted. It’s also why change feels like the only constant: a business never stops changing and it needs to be one step ahead of the market to thrive. What is your business doing to stay ahead and thrive?

A lesson from the Trust

Although I’m writing about forces of change in the media industry,  I find it useful to view change and the way it is being implemented in other sectors. One current fascinating example is the UK’s National Trust.

The Trust has implemented a customer engagement strategy and is being savagely accused of ‘Disneyfication’. Its chairman, Sir Simon Jenkins, wants to make properties more accessible to the public by opening up roped-off areas, recreating historical scenes, lighting fires and getting rid of ‘do not touch’ signs that are the traditional demarcation lines of non-engagement in its 300 or more properties. His strategy is about making the customer experience more memorable and driving a higher level of engagement to provide a visitor experience that will help grow the Trust as an attraction and family outing and have new people visit more frequently whilst also encouraging their friends to join. Critics say this is ‘intellectual slumming’.

Rethink the way you do everything

But the Trust will have pondered the risks of alienating their 3.8 million core members long enough to know that the risks of inaction, and therefore not appealing to a new generation of consumers, is an even greater threat than change.

New initiatives, like giving velvet cloaks to visitors as they enter Hampton Court are, in the chief curator’s words, ‘for our very survival (…) we need to reach out to people who just aren’t interested in history.”

Naysayers complain that the “buildings are not meant to be welcoming”, calling the initiatives ‘infantile’, and accusing the Trust of ‘crossing the line into entertainment’ and being “patronising to the public.’


Every business has a legacy. This is why I see parallels between the Trust and UK publishing. Like the Trust, UK publishing needs to trade a certain history for an uncertain future. Fear and habit make us protective of the core and, even if we know core customers are not likely to ensure long term viability and sustainability, we tend to hang on to them and allow them to run our businesses.

I’ve written about transformation before and practised it at many levels.

A solution for publishers might be to develop a “parallel” offer for new audiences instead of trying to entice them directly into the traditional “pipeline.” This is because square pegs don’t fit round holes and reaching new audiences usually works best with new approaches. If new approaches differ significantly from traditional practices, they may be more effective as standalone diversifications rather than extensions to the core.

Don’t change the core – re-invent it

The National Trust aren’t in fact choosing between one audience and the other. Instead they are leading a “parallel” strategy by offering participatory activities whilst preserving old labels and interpretative tools.  At some point the business will have to make a choice. It won’t always be able to afford to do the “and”. Effective portfolio management means juggling parallel offers long enough to get started with a new audience and, once you can show how this converts to sales, you will need to make informed decisions about divesting parts of the business that might no longer qualify as “core”.

Is your business trying to cut a new direction but having its efforts sabotaged by the old guard? If so, how are you handling the situation?

Curation: the new salvation for non-fiction publishers

A well curated exhibit engages and retains an audience

Most book publishers are geared toward stability.

But the big disrupter (the Internet) is providing readers with more content choices than they can process. To add insult to injury, B2C Brands, Google, Bing, AOL and Yahoo are all focusing their strategies on content. Therefore, life is going to get even harder for special interest publishers.

Look the monster in the eye

Demand Media is already operating in the UK, and has introduced its model of content produced at the lowest possible rates. eHow one of its portfolio brands marches to the beat of the biggest search engines, commissioning content based on popular search terms. Publishers might poke fun at that content, but Demand Media is eyeing a multibillion flotation.

So how can specialist non-fiction book publishers turn themselves into nimble content players and retain engaged communities in the light of such aggressive competition?

1. Press the cost button

From my experience, competing online means lower operating costs. To do that publishers need to transition their core operating practices to new models that align with the realities of the market and the new competition. In other words, publishers need to make it possible for their teams to save time on performing daily tasks.

2. Be nimble

Solutions are never far away and, in this case, the solution resides in the web itself, the very thing publishers labeled “threat” can suddenly transform into “opportunity”. To transform the threat into an opportunity, special interest publishers need to make content aggregation and content curation integral practices in their core business.

Some publishers get this and some don’t. It tends to be mid-sized special interest publishers who are already moving away from a book-centric publishing model to a community-centric focus, that understand the value of aggregated and curated content.

3. Change faster

However, if UK special interest publishers are to successfully future-proof their positions as doyens of content in a fiercely competitive landscape, they will need to move more quickly than they are today and embrace the modern practices of aggregation and curation. They will need to understand how these semi-automated practices integrate operationally, where they add value, how they impact on people and, more importantly, how the semantic platforms help a business to transition from pure creation to a hybrid creation-curation model that is fast and effective.


The most rewarding aspect of what I do currently (help publishers think about strategy and plan operations) is having the time to focus on medium and long term solutions. Working across a range of media sectors, but always with clients in deep content verticals, I am able to draw on a vast network of interconnected media cases to understand the challenges, business practices and practical solutions each sector is applying to identical problems but in their own individual way.

Where once my perspective was restricted to book publishing, my work now makes it possible for me to encompass a broader range of  solutions “borrowed” from the worlds of newspapers, journals, magazines and broadcast. Consesequently I am able to cross-pollenate the solutions from one sector to the next. In this instance the responses and technologies are borrowed from the news and magazine sectors. And although the solutions were built for media players requiring bigger volume and faster, more regular content they are perfect for todays online community publishers.

It’s because books have resisted longest in the shift to digital that book publishing professionals can benefit more fully from the lessons, practices and lower costs of technologies borrowed from the news and magazine sectors.


But what do we mean by curation? The Latin root of the noun curator means “to care” and we use the word primarily in connection with museum and gallery practices. When we refer to curation in connection with content, we mean the work practices employed in scouring, finding, sorting, organising, selecting, structuring, framing, contextualising, enhancing and exhibiting content in a way that offers enthusiasts the most memorable and engaging experience.

Whether we’re dealing with content or objects, selecting the best pieces from a range of items to tell the best possible story is a specialist craft. The craft requires subject and category expertise. Told like that, curating is a job non-ficiton publishers have been doing  since the dawning of time.

So what’s new if publishers have always been curating? The new bit is that audiences have moved away from the costly and cumbersome medium of print to their preferred, more convenient and interactive medium: online. The way we consume content online has changed forever and displaced the way publishers need to produce specialist content and serve it up.

If special interest book publishers are to connect with this new breed of media consumer, they need to get ahead of the game and be offensive.

Online Content Curation

Technology to the rescue

Thankfully there are tools to help publishers sift through and structure the colossal amounts of content. Working with semantic tools like Idio’s Cloud-based semantic & social tech platform to supercharge content, special interest publishers can win back some of the audiences they have lost to broad-based content aggregators like Google, Demand Media and YouTube.

None of the emerging content monsters create content; they each aggregate content. Aggregation is powerful but its sister practice, curation, is what adds value. And it’s by focusing on quality curation that publishers can add value to their communities and reduce the risk of losing further loyal followers.

Add value

Spotting trends and using content from book sources to support new editorial is something that every publisher needs to do if they are going to refresh their extensive backlists and make it visible to the tribes of enthusiasts eager to gain a deeper level of knowledge. Used properly, curation can increase page views on material that would otherwise be relegated to the archive in a dark and dusty basement.

Furthermore, properly curated articles can lead readers to continue clicking through a site, spending more time on it and returning to it more regularly.  Search engine users (that’s most of us) have little allegiance to brands but we are much more likely to be interested in the key word topic we enter into our preferred search engine. Thus, a well indexed spread of content increases the likelihood of us stumbling upon content using keyword search. Seen from this angle, publishers have an opportunity to use content to make every page of their website a landing page. Rather than rely on their own slim content offering, publishers can use boost their subject content using aggregated and curated content to attract and retain readers.

Working with book publishers in the special interest sector is helping me realise the vast opportunities for semantically structured topic pages (these can be partially populated with content from aggregated sources to kick wikis off). This way sparse content can be beefed-up to boost underpopulated sub-categories which, if they are left unchecked for too long, will die.


The processes of curation I have described in this post means that editors and marketers can spend fewer precious and expensive hours managing the aggregation and curation process that needs to integrate with core business practices; the platform effectively does the job for them and they can focus on using the data gathered by the platform to inform marketing and editorial decisions. Of course, there are many other benefits to working with semantic technologies but I will save those for another post. However, if you have any questions, do please post a comment, drop me a line or give me a call.


To end this post, and to reward those who read to the end (thank you for improving my average time on site stats!), I’d like to reward you with two further items that may be of interest: the first is a forthcoming “Creation and Curation” conference in Exeter, Devon and the second is a the seminal article “Aggregation and curation: two concepts that explain a lot about digital change” by Mike Shatzkin’s. If you’re a non-fiction publisher using online content curation and aggregation, I’d love to hear how you are integrating curation into your core business practice.

As publishers head for Frankfurt, it is customers they should be seeking, not books

The Threat

Digital content production needn't be so hard

Everyday powerful digital media companies like Yahoo, AOL and Demand Media are creating new content around niches, and household brands, as well as the content farms are marginalising special interest publishers who fail to respond to the new competitive threat that is being mounted by these new, non-traditional competitors.

To compete for attention in this new world of fragmenting audiences, publishers need to keep pace and be in a position to provide enough refreshed and relevant content to stay on the radar of the search engines.

To compete effectively, publishers need digital aggregation and curation tools to help their editorial and marketing people drive interaction and make more frequent connections, without the sweat of additional effort and toil.

But many special interest publishers are struggling to provide enough relevant content to satisfy their community members. The danger is not that they will not have the books to sell, but they will soon not have the customers to sell to. To stay relevant publishers must be in a position to implement the new digital marketing practices that are becoming mainstream, and use these to grow their communities.

When it comes to new marketing techniques, it is not the publishing skills that publishers lack but time. Also the antiquated work-flows and editorial processes of old are failing them in this post-digital era. Publishers’ archives and content is often inadequately formatted, not retrievable nor appropriate and, all too often, out of date for it to be of any use to them for content marketing purposes.

So, how can publishers do better than dish up poor, infrequent and irrelevant content whilst their readers disappear elsewhere?

The Fix

Publishers can do several things to mitigate the threat and, probably the most effective is to use other people’s content on the web to curate aggregate, nourish, grow and retain their communities without the burdens of hard labour.

“Oh but no!”, I hear publishers cry, “that is stealing and, anyway, we prefer to use our own content, it’s better” . I sympathise, but to argue this is to miss the point. In reality, content curation and aggregation are not stealing and the practice (I use it in this post) does not take anything away from a publisher’s creative output. Quite the contrary, as you read on, you will see that the practice enhances the ability to generate original, relevant and targeted content. The curation and aggregation practices don’t remove the need for quality original content, but they do provide a means to work more quickly, less painfully and through the channel of aggregated content, allow publishers to plug the gaps in their content marketing programs, solidify a faster-paced digital editorial flow and keep the output pegged to a sustained and disciplined digital content schedule.

So how do curation and aggregation work and how do they help produce faster, targeted and relevant content?

Content curation is the process of sifting and filtering articles and blog posts from across the web. Aggregation is bringing that content from multiple source repositories for retrieval at a later date.

Modern Functionality

A well designed curation and aggregation platform, built with a publishing focus will enable the following functions:

  • Aggregate large amounts of content, from internal and external sources
  • Sift and select the most relevant, quality content
  • Provide a structured process for identifying external contributors, gathering permissions, selecting and vetting chosen sources
  • Identify and extract key topics: concepts, people, places, companies, events and many more
  • Classify the content according to a taxonomy, across different subject categories, and encase content in intelligent, rich and descriptive meta data
  • Collect relevant meta data from external databases to provide context, topic summaries, person’s biographies, concept definition
  • Moderation procedures – automated and manual

Multiple Benefits

  • This ‘aggregated’ content provides a bedrock and a full perspective on specialist subjects
  • Original content can be created on top
  • The content can be shared on social networks
  • And visible on search engines
  • This attracts and retains new customers
  • Content is targeted to many more niche searches, improving SEO and increasing Google ranking
  • Allows you to display real-time trending content, such as popular issues, people, and companies

Other Considerations

Like all operational improvements, there’s a cost to maintaining a competitive advantage but, with content marketing, it is important to view the investment through the lens of community and not the traditional lens of pure spend/revenue ratios. This, as Junta42 explain on their website, “is because the shift from company-centered branding to customer-centered branding changes how we use our marketing budgets and the resulting return on investment (ROI).”

In may ways, publishers are needing to recreate their businesses. That will always have a start up cots that needs to be recouped over time. The shift in business focus for special interest publishers is the strategic decision to invest in community, knowing that when that special interest community reaches critical size, the life-long value of the members in community will be worth more than the few additional book sales that occur in the year of transition.

So, can book publishers go to Frankfurt and be focused on filling spaces in their 2011 programs when such a threat and such an opportunity are on the doorstep?   Find out how a community building content platform can help you

Positive signs for a bright future despite the decline in book retailing

Implementing change requires effort

After getting back from a long summer break and an extended digital fast, I was curious to know what changes and developments had occurred in publishing during my absence.

Three concurrent events helped me take stock of the current state of book publishing:

  1. The first was a wander through the book aisles of WH Smith in Exeter, which, as you might imagine, did little to provide me with a compulsive new vision for a brighter publishing future.
  2. The second event that captured my attention was a more compelling story from Michael Morpurgo’s on the creation of Penguin 75 years ago, on BBC R4. This was a more uplifting experience and a timely reminder that ideas and more ideas drive success in publishing.
  3. The third stimulus was the news on almost every industry blogger’s pages that Seth Godin pulled his ripcord and jettisoned his publisher Penguin in place of self-publishing. This, I pondered, might be the long awaited catalyst for change in our industry.

But what of these three events? Firstly, as you may have predicted if you know the stores, my amble down the aisles of WH Smith was not, as I mentioned, a trip through Publishing’s Gardens of Paradise. It felt more like a violent reminder of the biggest problem in book publishing today: swathes of poorly published titles stacked to the ceiling in lurid lollipop displays. Then, to add insult to injury, behind the floor-to-ceiling piles of “bestsellers”,  rack upon rack of poorly presented, slowly rotting backlist titles leaning in disarray on shelves that no self respecting shopper would care to browse.

How sad that the UK’s largest retail book chain has had such a detrimental effect on our publishing. Is it any wonder publishers see no alternative but to run headlong into poor list creation, snatching titles at auction that they can ill afford to pay for, just in order to jump on the bandwagon of celebrity publishing and try their luck at the lottery?

This type of distribution might work for the likes of the Guinness Book of World Records at Christmas but it’s questionable whether it works as the retail standard for publishing, 365 days a year? What lifebuoy can there be for an an industry as sick as this?  Is there any hope Tim Waterstone might buy back his flagship stores from HMV and restore sense and purpose to an ailing and butchered publishing and retail industry?

On a brighter note, Michael Morpurgo’s account of the creation of Penguin 75 years ago, on Radio 4, was a keen reminder of how successful book publishing is shaped by the initiatives of keen entrepreneurs who have vision and a sense of risk. The story on the radio happily coincide with a presentation Simon Jollands, my digital publishing partner, and I were giving about our new digitally enhanced e-book series. Our aim is to use high quality instructional content and compulsive functionality to bring engaging learning and interactivity to lifelong enthusiasts seeking to improve their proficiency in leisure pursuits (knots, gardening, golf etc..). Like Penguin, our series of digitally enhanced e-books fills the sort of gap Allen Lane spotted in the market as he was waiting for a train to take him from Exeter back to London. Like Allen, our aim is to supply a convenient and affordable series that revolutionises the existing.

Finally, news that Seth Godin has thrown down the gauntlet and decided to self publish was predictable but none the less exciting. I wholeheartedly endorse his decision to go independent and demonstrate new marketing practices. Sure, not all reputable authors are ready to follow but Seth’s insights into a failing industry and his leadership and teaching will spur many authors to move in that direction. With the right support, guidance and training, authors can successfully transition to an independent model. But happily, not all authors will feel a need to because some publisher (SIPs in the main) will themselves transition to provide the platform and the community for their to engage with their readers.

When Seth Godin addressed a group of independent publishers in May and shared his wisdom with them on the future role of special interest book publishing, he hit the proverbial nail on the head: the best way forward from here for niche publishers is curation, permission marketing and community leadership.

For me personally content curation of any sort is a victory. It reflects the way the industry is moving and it reinforces the change we, at Idio, are helping publishers and authors tool-up for.

On balance the barometer says book publishing is moving in the right direction. So let’s get on with it!