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The Marketability eBulletin

Our free resources currently comprise the fortnightly eBulletin, and a searchable archive of almost 1000 original articles that have been edited and archived for their continuing relevance.

Welcome to our latest fortnightly eBulletin, posted here on 23 July 2019. In this issue:

Does this signal the end of print textbooks? Pearson’s bold step

Last week Pearson announced a ‘digital first’ policy for US textbooks, with content regularly updated. Print editions will no longer be on a three year revision cycle, and will only be available on a rental basis.

Pearson CEO John Fallon said:
“We’ve changed our business model to deliver affordable, convenient and personalized digital materials to students. Our digital first model lowers prices for students and, over time, increases our revenues. By providing better value to students, they have less reason to turn to the secondary [ie second-hand] market.”

Will this prove a tipping point? And how soon might we see the same policy apply outside of the US?

Read the story on the BBC.

This story will be an interesting one to monitor over the next year – and will definitely feature in our Academic Marketing Workshops.


Curious ‘slow philosophy’ postcard campaign for Iris Murdoch’s centenary

This campaign sounds great – until you read more and realise it has some significant flaws.

An Post, the Irish postal service, is releasing a commemorative stamp to mark the centenary on 15 July of Dublin-born novelist Iris Murdoch. They’ve also partnered with In Parenthesis (an academic research collaboration) to produce a series of artist-designed postcards ‘introducing #slow philosophy’ and celebrating Murdoch, who was a prolific letter writer. So far so good.

Readers are invited to send a philosophy question on a postcard ‘to Iris’ at An Post in Dublin. 100 lucky readers will be answered by one of a number of philosophers lined up by In Parenthesis, by hand, on a limited edition postcard with a commemorative stamp.

Meanwhile publisher Vintage has republished six of Murdoch’s novels in a new special edition series. They look great and deserve, along with the postcard campaign’s publicity, to bring attention to Murdoch and generate sales.

But how many people will be motivated to buy, write and post a physical postcard to Ireland? To do this is at least free within Ireland itself. Send from the UK and it’ll cost the princely sum of £1.35 and probably involving queueing in a post office for an ‘international’ stamp. I fear that In Parenthesis may not have thought this through and that the chances of them getting 100 entries at all are pretty slim. They will, I predict, all come from Ireland.

If there’s a moral to this story it’s to make sure that when planning any campaign you pay rigorous attention to the detail of what is being asked of the audience, and whether it’s commensurate with the benefit they may gain.

Read about the campaign in The Bookseller

Our Impressive Marketing Plans on a Small Budget covers all aspects of planning, including when and how to use postcards to good effect (I’m a fan).


In-company training: pros and cons

There’s been a shift towards in-company tailored training over the years, and for anyone weighing up whether in-company really is better than open courses, here’s a quick list of pros and cons.

  1. The trainer comes to you, so it’s very convenient.
  2. Content and discussion is bespoke to your needs and wishes, and you can freely discuss company processes and issues without worrying about confidentiality.
  3. It’s an excellent opportunity to get colleagues together. People often comment that just discussing issues is really helpful, yet happens rarely due to everyone’s time-pressures.
  4. It’s a fantastic starting point if you’re kick-starting a new initiative or re-structure. You can even end the day with an action plan which will benefit from all of the discussions.
  5. Practical work usually involves a real company challenge or upcoming project, which means you get to start tackling it as part of the course.
  6. In-company is cheaper than public course places, provided you have at least 4 people to train.

  1. Precisely because it’s convenient, participants can be lost to meetings or inboxes. ‘No-shows’ are surprisingly common on in-house days. An external course can be taken more seriously.
  2. Too be-spoke can become tunnel vision. It’s healthy to meet participants from different publishing sectors and hear where their experience and issues overlap and where they differ.
  3. Group dynamics can be an issue, especially if direct reports end up on the same training course, or when there are participants who simply don’t like each other! Open courses are a more level playing field.
  4. There’s always a danger that contentious company issues or politics will crop up which don’t belong in the training room.

Overall the two options are fairly evenly balanced. And if you choose in-house we work with you to get the most from the ‘pros’ and minimise the ‘cons’. If you’d like to discuss a possible in-company course this September-December do drop me an email soon as available dates are already limited.

Read more about how in-company training works.


On The Marketability Grapevine on Facebook

  • Prime Day protests have made more consumers want to boycott Amazon, and there is evidence that the ‘digital shoplifting’ tide may have turned.
  • To all of you out there who ever missed an error when proofreading ... this is guaranteed to make you smile.
  • Read something that hit the spot in this eBulletin? Click through and like the item or add a comment on Facebook
  • Watch the Wall for postings of new jobs, or feel free to add to them.

Visit The Marketability Grapevine.


Tip of the week: Quality answers from your authors require quality questions from you

Author marketing input can be excellent, but a poor question is guaranteed to produce poor answers. For example, ask authors to suggest keywords by which readers can find their book and most will throw the net as wide as possible assuming that more searchers will see it. Try asking authors what keywords they use to search for current news within their field instead, and they might just home in on much more precisely relevant terms.




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