The long tail relates stories of profitable sales for those with unlimited shelving. Book creation technology is catching up with what the music industry has had for several years. On demand printing and ebooks mean that books can be available in moments. Yet the music industry is now heading into a different direction, concerts are the profit maker -somewhere we cannot follow -so we need to blaze our own path.
We know people like books, good books, but how can you get to these “people.” One approach is to foster a community around your area. Travel and technical books are already doing this. Getting direct community feedback on published information makes the new edition easier and cheaper. This process can even begin prior to publication with beta book releases, allowing the community to support the author. Many communities want the best book in their area to be published, so will come and help to make the book the best it can be, so that they can then buy the best book.
A social network enhances this process, strengthening the connections between the readers and you. Brands vs authors does complicate who the “you” is, but establishing an ongoing relationship between your community and the books you sell is likely to generate more sales. Harnessing the long tail requires appealing to niche areas, and these are well served by social networks, which cross geographic and organizational boundaries.
Building a social network need not be expensive nor take a long time. There are a range of approaches from off-the-shelf white label products, through open source products to bespoke software development. Social networks are not about adding friends, they are about tracking activity from existing social relationships. The key is to host the community and help it to create the best books and benefit from that process. Exploring the major decisions in building a social network, this session will help you build a successful community online.
Gavin designs web applications and social software for the Nature Publishing Group. Large scale web applications covering identity, on-demand media and social software have been the main focus of his work. Since the early 90s he has worked in academia, advertising, publishing and developed multimedia software. He is writing a forthcoming book on social web applications for O’Reilly Media Inc. He lives in London with his wife and two sons. He keeps track of the world on take one onion and you can keep track of him on gavinbell.com were he generally avoids the third person.
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