Yesterday I attended an event at TechHub, a creative space in London designed to help creative businesses. The event was called ‘Publishing for Tablets and Monetizing Content – How to Marry the Two?” sponsored by Pearson.
This featured talks from
- Eric Huang, Publishing Director for Media and Entertainment at Penguin
- Glynn Hayward, Creative Director of Complete Control, a creative agency who have started publishing their own content
- Mawuli Ladzepko of Express Reads, a startup hoping to offer eBook rentals
- and Martin Harris, SVP Strategic Accounts at Bango, a mobile analytics firm
You can also see some discussion surrounding this through Twitter with the hashtag #TechHubTablets
and follow @TechHub
So onto my summary of the talks!
Firstly the business of eBooks is still in its infancy and so a lot of experimentation is still needed. I think anyone who went to the event looking for tat magic formula will have been sorely disappointed. With all this experimentation though it does lead to, hopefully, better experiences for the consumer.
My favorite statement was from Eric Huang and below is my best estimation of it:
“We are now in the business of story publishing, not book publishing”
I think that anyone who is looking to do an app should focus on this. You may not think that a game needs much of a story but look at Angry Birds. It has a compelling narrative, interesting characters, and great artwork. It’s basically a storybook with a game on top.
This only applies to publishing really, productivity apps don’t need much of a story. However, there are exceptions such as Tweetbot
which adds character to what is a full market of Twitter apps.
Eric Huang also touched on the area of marketing as did Glynn Hayward. Penguin found that print ads offer no increase in sales as it requires a customer to go a long way just to get an app. Instead they have both found that appealing to blogs and getting the Apple seal of approval is the only real way to get a decent amount of people to your apps.
A lot of what Martin Harris talked about was removing friction for the buyer. He showed a slide where the conversion to sale on a site you have already bought at is 70%, whereas when you had to start putting your credit/debit card details in it was only 10%. Remember that your customer is time-starved.
Thankfully Apple takes away a lot of this hassle because you need to have your Apple ID linked to a credit card so you only need to enter the details when your card runs out every few years.
This could also be a reason that people buying on Android Market is so low because of the hassle in signing up for a Google Account. It’s definitely worth thinking about.
Another interesting thing from Martin’s talk was on pricing. Obviously apps have seen a bit of a race to the bottom with most apps selling for $0.99. After Apple takes its 30% this doesn’t leave you with much. Martin gave an example of a stock tracking app that was $9.99, pretty expensive in the App Store. the app then went up in price to $17.99 and sales pretty much stayed the same plus your margin has increased. The great thing about the App Store is that you can experiment with price.
Overall from these talks I took away the need to experiment and there is no surefire way to have a success. If you go into the App Store you’re competing against 500,00+ apps that are all vying for people’s attention. If you try to do a web app then you’re seemingly competing against the whole of the internet with millions, probably billions of pages.
I look forward to more debate around publishing on tablets and it is definitely a way to try something new. As we’ve seen with PushPopPress, you may even get bought by Facebook.
So what are your thoughts?