Event Recap: BookNet Canada’s Tech Forum 2017 (Part 2)

Earlier this week we covered some of our favourite talks from BookNet Canada’s Tech Forum. We continue our event recap with some more stand out talks, delving into the ever important question of repurposing content and the Canadian audiobook market.

Repurposing Content

Speakers: Jordan Bass, McSweeney’s; Franco Alvarado, F+W Media; Rachel Di Salle, Rogers Media; Veronica Thompson, Inkling

Moderator: Kris Vetter Tomes, Lerner Publishing Group

Content is at the very heart of our industry. Arguably, it is the post important asset we have as publishers. Today we have access to more data, practices, formats and audiences than ever before. And yet, that doesn’t mean that everything has changed. The backlist has always played an important role in publishing. Many consider it to be the bread and butter of our business – a few good backlist titles can carry you a long way. How can we go about repurposing our existing content in the digital age to reap the full benefits of our in-house assets? Tech Forum assembled a panel to address this important question. Here are some best practices that emerged from the discussion:

  • Start by repurposing content at a granular level. It is easier to repurpose a chapter rather than a whole book, or even a paragraph. Chapters are succinct and have a clear beginning and an end. Repurposed content must be able to stand alone.
  • After sorting your content at a granular level, think about the different ways you can link this content to create something new. For instance, creating a new product out of linked chapters from different works. This can be used across a variety of genres including everything from educational titles to parenting books and even recipes.
  • Consider the power of ebook bundles. This is a great way of repurposing your content to create something whole and new. Taking the ebook files for a bunch of existing titles, ripping them apart, and putting them back together again in one file can be a great source of revenue.
  • Audiobooks are a great format for repurposed content. One panelist spoke about how their company had repurposed existing audio recordings from their archives into full audiobooks. By finding a way to use existing audio recordings and repurposing them into full audiobooks they were able to find a lucrative new source of revenue.
  • Recognize that the appeal of repurposed content extends beyond the world of publishing. Other companies are interested in the same principles—everyone is eager to find new ways to manipulate their existing assets. Be open to the possibility of exploring new partnerships with players outside of the publishing world.
  • Focus on your metadata and content centralization. Pool all your data in one place and make sure it is accessible and up-to-date so that it is organized well-ahead of any content repurposing projects. Above all, make sure your content data is formatted in such a way that you will be able to find it again.
  • Keep in mind that sometimes the most unconventional products can become your biggest assets. One panelist spoke about a product they had released several years ago. It was a record that had been produced entirely in sheet music form, as a folder containing individual song sheets that users could learn how to play at home. Originally, the company had assumed it was a one-hit project. Then came YouTube. The arrival of the online video platform created an unexpected level of new interaction with this content. All of a sudden, home users were rediscovering the songs and creating dedicated YouTube videos. This unanticipated call-back to the participatory beginnings of popular music resulted in a whole new audience for the product and allowed the publisher to take this content to new heights. Remember that even the most offbeat content can find a way to be reused in ways you never could have anticipated. Repurpose your content at the user level.
  • Always have your end-users in mind but be flexible on how you get to the end result. Don’t be afraid of experimentation.
  • Be aware of trends and find ways to quickly and effectively repurpose your content accordingly. Be a part of the cultural conversation.
  • When taking your first steps into repurposing content, don’t underestimate the power of creativity. Sometimes the best ideas come from giving members of your team the space and liberty to develop something spectacular.


Readers Will Listen

Speakers: Cameron Drew, Booktrack; Ashleigh Gardner, Wattpad; Ruth Linka, Orca Books; Noah Genner, BookNet Canada; Ian Small, Audiobooks.com

Moderator: David Caron, ECW Press

Audiobooks have been a hot topic for a while now, but it is only recently that the publishing market has begun to embrace the audio format in droves. As Noah Genner from BookNet Canada said in his presentation on the state of the Canadian audiobook market “2016 saw a huge surge in audiobook need, want and demand.” Although audiobooks have been around for a long time, digital disruption—and particularly the advent of the smartphone—has brought audiobooks to the fore. The question now, he said, is twofold. Firstly, how do we sell more audiobooks to readers and buyers of other book formats? Second, how do we sell audiobooks to non-readers and non-book buyers?

According to BookNet Canada’s findings, the average audiobook user is female, aged 25-34 years old, university educated, earning $25,000-$40,000 per year, and married without kids. BookNet has found that approximately 70% of audiobook users listen to 1-10 audiobooks per year. Unabridged versions are much more popular than abridged. When questioned about why they prefer listening to audiobooks over other forms of reading, BookNet found that 38.5% of users said it was because it helps them multi-task. A further 28.2% replied that they liked audiobooks because they are portable. Genner went on to detail further insights about when exactly readers reported listening to audiobooks. The top three times were before bed (26%), while commuting (20%) and doing chores at home (16%). Fiction is more popular than non-fiction. Within the fiction category, literary/general fiction lands the top spot, followed by mystery/detective books and romance. Self-help earns the top spot for non-fiction, followed by biographies and autobiographies. A full summary of BookNet’s findings can be found in their report Are You Still Listening? Audiobook Use in Canada 2016.

A frank panel discussion followed about the role of audiobooks in Canada. A summary of best practices in summarized below:

  • Consider integrating audio production into the core of your publishing strategy. In the United States many publishers release their titles simultaneously across the trifecta of formats: print, ebook and audio.
  • Consider the need to refine metadata for audiobooks. If the current trend is any indication, audio will continue to grow into a mainstream format. We will need to find good ways of introducing and tracking this metadata if we are to gain a better understanding of the market.
  • One of the panelists spoke about their success in incorporating audiobooks into their existing children’s literacy list. The advantage of having an audio component for literacy learners is a big draw. A conversation ensued suggesting that there may be a gap in the market for similar read-along books for adults (i.e. specifically for adult ESL learners).
  • The choice of narrator is key. Finding the right fit of voice to content can make or break an audiobook.
  • Remember that with the production of audiobooks comes the need to proof the files. This is a time consuming task but it can work to your advantage. In proofing the audio version early in the production process you might identify mistakes that you would otherwise have missed in the traditional processes. By producing print, ebook, and audiobooks at the same time you might still have time to fix these before the big release-date.
  • There is a huge amount of untapped potential in the audiobook market. Although juvenile and YA are small parts of the current audiobook market, consider reaching out to consumers in these age groups. They are the readers of tomorrow.

05/18/2017 | Digital, Events