Direct-To-Fan Done Right: Indy Romance Ebook Club Seduces Readers With Extras

from the reason-to-buy dept

When I wrote about the failings of JK Rowling’s Pottermore ebook store, reaction was mixed. Most sources were praising Pottermore for striking out and demonstrating a new model for publishing, but I wanted to forget the business side for a moment and ask whether the customers were truly receiving any benefit. To add some contrast to this discussion, we can compare it to Discover a New Love, a new romance ebook club launched by independent publisher Sourcebooks (found Through PaidContent). It isn’t a direct analog to Pottermore but demonstrates the reason to buy that Rowling’s store mostly lacks. For ten bucks a month per six months, members get one free romance ebook monthly, discounts on other ebooks, and a whole bunch of extras:

The initiative also aims to build community: Sourcebooks will hold parties for members at the major romance conferences, and is also offering

  • Member-only blog chats with our authors, editors, cover artists and more.
  • Special “Romance Insider” events for you to help events shape the future of romance publishing including focus groups, panel discussions, surveys and more.
  • A forum for discussing your favorite authors, books, heroes, heroines, and sex scenes with other members of the community
  • Member-only content from about our authors and upcoming titles.
  • Access to member-only special offers, contests, and give-aways

That’s how you entice fans: by connecting with them, building a community, and offering that community things that they can’t get anywhere else. Now, obviously there are some key differences between this and Pottermore. The Sourcebooks titles will still be directly available through other channels like the Kindle store, and the book-a-month model doesn’t really work for a finished series like Harry Potter. But the parallels are striking too: both romance novels and Potteresque megafranchises represent bright spots in the publishing industry, and their escapist nature breeds ravenous fanbases. A Harry Potter book club that offered meaningful perks would certainly be a breakaway hit (of course, as expected because of the extreme popularity of the franchise, Pottermore is still doing pretty well). Apparently the broader Pottermore website (still in beta, promised for early this month) will provide some community-focused incentives, and hopefully that will turn the store into something more relevant to readers—but for now, Discover a New Love provides a good example of how to reward your customers with a true reason to buy.

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Companies: discover a new love, sourcebooks

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Comments on “Direct-To-Fan Done Right: Indy Romance Ebook Club Seduces Readers With Extras”

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14 Comments
David Jordan (user link) says:

Hmm...ebooks as subscription with extras

This reminds me a lot of what I’ve been starting to do with my novel, ZHackers, which I’m publishing as a serial novel. I chose to release ZHackers: Volume One on the Ubuntu Software Center as an app that comes with several formats including not only the standard epub and pdf, but also a special version compatible with Firefox. Compatibility, free-culture licensing, and being DRM Free are really big deals for me as an author.
The really cool part is that it comes with automatic updates, which is one of the advantages of publishing on a service like the USC. In the future I have more formats and bonus content planned between now and Volume Two. It’s the best way I see of adding value for paying fans, especially when it’s already legal (and welcome) for fans to share.
Here are a few links if anyone is interested.
USC Edition
Trade Paperback on Lulu

Anonymous Coward says:

Marcus, you almost got it, except that:

Except for the specific “access” (which has little value, as it’s group access, not personal), everything else can and has been re-created 1000 times over online. Forums are not a new idea, and rarely do people charge for them successfully.

The authors? No doubt they have facebook pages and twitter accounts and if you really want to interact with them, you can do it in the human way for free.

Mostly, this looks like artificial scarcity, faking it because they are already seeing that e-books, like every other digital media, will get ripped off by the freet–ds within seconds of being released. They see their own demise, and are trying to put it off for a few more minutes.

When the customers realize they can get all this for nothing, they 9.99 will go away and that will end that.

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