Wandering Eyes

When collecting data on the effectiveness of a website, sometimes recording clicks aren’t enough. When trying to get as specific as possible, some brands turn to eye-track testing.

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Eye-track testing is just what it sounds–companies can gauge the pattern of where the users’ eyes go around the page. Fishman Marketing did a study where they had two websites with the same content but had it designed differently, and gauged where readers’ eyes went on the page. One was arguably better designed visually, and the other had a lot of content but less of a “designy” feel. What were the results? People’s eyes moved around the page for the less nicely designed one. They also spent more time reading the content that the marketing firm wanted them to read.

Moral of the story? (According to Fishman?) Great web design doesn’t necessarily have to be pretty–it just has to be effective.

http://www.natlawreview.com/article/great-website-design-isn-t-pretty-it-s-effective

Decorating with Books

The Wine Library at the Boutique Hotel & Spa in Zurich, where 33,000 books line the shelves.

The Wine Library at the Boutique Hotel & Spa in Zurich houses 33,000.

One article that caught my eye this week was “Hotels for Book Lovers” that appeared in the New York Times. The article stipulates that certain hotels around the world, such as the B2 Boutique Hotel and Spa in Zurich and the Library Hotel in New York City, are marketing themselves around the fact that they have books. Lots and lots of books.

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Apps in every language

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I thought this topic would be especially important for native English speaking students to note, because it’s easy for us to forget that the digital world (and the digital publishing world) doesn’t exist entirely in English. This article from Times of India pointed out that in India, apps that are written and used in regional languages and dialects are increasing in popularity. As an interviewee noted of the app ShareChat, in which users speak and write Malayalam, “This is a great outlet when one is forced to speak in English at the workplace.”

This trends towards creating language- and dialect-based social media and publishing platforms has also sparked the creation of Dailyhunt, an app based in India that focuses on publishing ebooks and aggregating news in 17 different languages. Dailyhunt is working on using machine learning and optical character recognition to automate the translation of ebooks. While digitally automated translation technology isn’t quite up to par with human standards, this process could potentially save publishers an innumerate amount of time and money. Dailyhunt has stated that translating a 150-page book with 20,000 words currently takes about four hours through it software, and they’re developing the technology even further in hopes that they can trim those hours down to two.

Traffic on Dailyhunt is significant. Though it’s still behind major players like Amazon and Nook, the article stated that over half a million paid books and two million free books are downloaded on the platform every month. Its cofounders and CEO state that it has the potential become even more popular with time.

Although this might seem less pertinent to us working in publishing in America, it is an important phenomenon to watch out for and keep an eye on in the future, because there’s certainly a large market for it.

Indie Bookstores aren’t Dead

Taking a look into the selling of books, I think we all have the sense that big stores, big companies are dominating in an oligopoly of sorts. However, looking at smaller affluent cities (like Boston and Seattle) it’s clear that there are still brick and mortar shops making a killing and helping define book trends. Leisure follows the wealthy so it’s no surprise that while in general, a niche bookshop may not do so well, in the right place they’ll thrive. Continue Reading…

Facebook Holding Discussions on Business Books

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From December 5-9, Facebook is running a campaign with the hashtag #ReadToLead, focused on books that deal with leadership and business.

The movement asks prominent business leaders to share photos or videos of the books they feel have shaped their ideas on both leadership and business. Participants range from those in the publishing industry to Jane Goodall, Air BnB CEO Brian Chesky, and makeup artist Bobbi Brown. This is not in partnership with any specific publisher, but HarperCollins Senior VP Lisa Sharkey has contributed.

Find the aggregated posts here.

 

Source: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/content-and-e-books/article/72203-facebook-spotlights-business-books-with-readtolead.html

Celebrating Wattpad’s 10th Anniversary

Wattpad, “an online community of writers and readers,” has just celebrated their 10th anniversary on December 02, illustrating how digital-first content can gain popularity enough to be published more traditionally. With more than 45 million visitors monthly combined for both the phone app and desktop website, and stories in over 50 different languages, their success is clear.

According to an article in Publishers Weekly by Calvin Reid:

“Wattpad helps aspiring writers find readers, but it also provides traditional book publishers, advertisers, and film and TV producers with original content, in addition to offering them real-time data on which stories and topics consumers find exciting.”

Allen Lau, one of the founders of the website, claims that the entertainment industry will be revolutionized by data mining for popular content via the web using artificial intelligence to sort the wheat from the chaff. Wattpad has already launched the traditional publishing careers of 26 authors for books written in English, not factoring in book deals for authors writing in other languages. It opens up an avenue for young women writers of genre fiction in particular, and as you can see in the photo above, the diversity among the writers—though still not ideal—is better than the sea of white males often seen in traditional publishing.

The company just ended a horror story contest in connection with TNT’s Tales from the Crypt, and should soon be announcing the shortlist soon. The winner will not only receive $20,000, but can also have their story bought by TNT and produced for television by M. Night Shyamalan (hopefully he won’t ruin it like he did with The Last Airbender.) With new advertisements on the website and opportunities like this to earn money, who says writing online can’t be profitable?

My younger sister has been using Wattpad on her phone to read for years, and honestly, I thought it was a fanfiction website before I read this article. While there is a fanfiction section to Wattpad, they focus more on original content. She started using it in seventh or eighth grade and still consistently uses the app to keep up with her favorite works—I even bought her the first book in The Styclar Saga by Nikki Kelly at her request once for her birthday and didn’t realize it was by a Wattpad author until reading this article. Anything that can launch authors or inspire readers is a good resource to me, though I am interested in the company’s profits after their monetization plan went through; Lau declined to answer the question as they are a private company.

 

Photo Credit: William Suarez

Move Over Adult Coloring Books, There’s a New Kid in Town

Adult coloring books have been on trend for a while now.  From Alice in Wonderland to Outlander, every book, flower, animal, and fandom seems to have a coloring book for grown-ups these days.  According to the Wall Street Journal article, “Sticker Books for Grown-Ups: Inside a Publishing Incubator,” a new type of activity book for adults is on the rise.

Workman Publishing, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is working on a line of sticker books for adults.  The concept started as a paint-by-number book for kids, using stickers to assemble a picture, but the team working on the project thought the intricacy of the book would lend itself well to adults.  The publisher created complex images with approximately 450 stickers per picture to appeal to adults.  Workman refers to the books as, “a magical new art form.” They are meditative exercises and encourage creativity.

Four sticker books were released this year, including two children’s books, and another four are set to drop next year. To date, the publisher has printed more than 690,000 copies of their “Paint by Sticker” books.  Workman is currently working on a music icons sticker book featuring the likes of Prince, Bowie, Madonna and Elvis.  The music icons book is set to drop sometime next year, but release date info has yet to be confirmed.

Pottermore’s eBooks Turn A Profit

An article published by Fortune in late November highlighted how one of the world’s most popular authors figured out how to turn a profit on her fan website. Pottermore, J.K. Rowling’s website, was originally launched in 2012 as a community for fans to discuss the stories and characters. They quickly realized the potential of selling ebook copies of the famous novels through the website and revamped their entire strategy in 2015. Pottermore has partnered with Amazon to be able to sell the ebooks directly to the fans, as well as audiobook versions through Amazon’s audiobook company Audible.

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So This Is Christmas

Thanksgiving wasn’t even over yet when I spotted a couple of neighbors merrily decorating their houses for Christmas. And now, there are Santas, Rudolphs, and Elves everywhere I go. To be completely honest, I still don’t understand what happened to 2016: one minute it’s January, cold, and snow, and about half a second later – no kidding, all I can see are Christmas trees. And cold and snow.

Now I don’t know about you, but I am a natural planner. And even though work, school, assignments, and every day life are already too time consuming, I try not to leave my to do list for last minute. It is true that I don’t make enough money (high five students), but I still like to give gifts to my family and friends. This year however, they will probably be more like a small gift; just a little something, but all that matters is the intention, right?

Earlier this morning, while looking for nothing in particular on the internet, I must have accidentally typed the correct combination of words that led me to an article that came in surprisingly handy. The article Holiday Gift Guide 2016: Books for Everyone on Your List, by Publishers Weekly, instantly gave me the great idea of giving books to my family and friends this Christmas.

Christmas Book Tree

The article explores a few genres of books, and provides a list with suggestions. There are 10 different lists with guides for Fiction, Nonfiction, Illustrated Gift Books, Don’t Forget the Kids!, What to Buy for the TV Buff, and others. That is how I decided to get When the Sea Turned to Silver, by Grace Lin, for my niece, and The National Parks Coloring Book, by Sophie Tivona, for my dad.

The lists that I enjoyed reading the most were What to Buy for the TV Buff and Bring on the Cheer. The first one is for television lovers, and covers from Star Trek to Gilmore Girls. The second one is for everybody, really. It brings in the spirit of the season, with The Night Before Christmas: The Heirloom Edition, by Clement C. Moore, and The Christmas Story, by Robert Sabuda.

I understand and agree that “10 lists” might sound pretty overwhelming. It sounded to me, at least. However, I assure you that they aren’t long. One way or the other, they are worth reading. A year goes by and another comes, but in the end, there is still no better gift than reading.

The Best Christmas Gift