Digital publishing news and views from the Firsty Group

Commentary Direct Access

Published by FirstyNews

Direct access the key in lockdown

Editor’s note:

We spoke back in April about the need to pivot.., and it’s great to see publishers and those across the industry doing just that! Conferences and Awards ceremonies going online, and a huge increase in digital content being consumed – and often purchased directly – by an audience deprived of bookstores for weeks on end.

So far, publishers have now sold their eBooks and audiobooks in 42 countries using Glassboxx! We are naturally extremely pleased with this ongoing success, and it just goes to the show the impact and global reach that selling direct can have, for publishers and readers alike. The simplicity of integration, together with an intuitive user interface, have contributed to the upturn in direct selling, prompted by a rethinking of existing business models and a need to reach readers on a personal level. With recent events turning eyes more than ever to sustainability and efficiency in business, it seems that direct selling will only increase in popularity – and the success of Glassboxx – and those using it – speaks for itself.

Darin Brockman
Firsty Group Founder & CEO

As publishing events go online during the pandemic, we’re seeing the value of easy connections to authors and digital content.

The coronavirus crisis has created huge challenges for industry and consumer events—but it’s also creating exciting new opportunities for publishers and authors to engage direct with consumers.

Lockdown-related event cancellations began with The London Book Fair in March, and a wave of other industry fairs, conferences and other activities soon followed. On the consumer-facing side, publishers and authors have been forced to scrap a huge number of launch parties, readings and signings. Coupled with the pandemic dominating the media, it has dramatically reduced exposure for books, and caused havoc with publishing schedules as publishers seek to postpone releases.

There has also been a severe impact on literary festivals. Lockdown coincided with the start of the UK’s festival season, leading to the cancellation of countless longstanding events, including two of the most popular, May’s Hay Festival and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. For some of these events it has left a massive funding gap that threatens their existence.

But while the lockdown has been hugely problematic for publishers, authors and festivals, it has also prompted an outpouring of public support. When Hay organised a #HayMakers crowdfunding campaign to preserve its future, it quickly raised nearly £100,000, and several other festivals have received generous donations to make up for shortfalls in ticket sales.

We have also seen a very creative response to the loss of events—and in particular a migration online. Hay quickly moved to organise a digital festival with more than 100 events, plus a spin-off programme for schools. The Big Book Weekend pulled together a range of events that had been due to take place at literary festivals like Cambridge, Guernsey, Stratford and Boswell into a three-day programme, backed by the BBC and Arts Council England. Lockdown LitFest has been streaming new and archived author content and pushing it out to social media.

Publishers have been busy turning physical events into digital ones too. Book launches and author readings have moved to Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, and a host of new podcasts have emerged. Book clubs that used to meet in bookshops, libraries and homes have moved to meeting platforms like Zoom. A similar transition has occurred in the trade, with the Independent Publishers Guild’s Spring Conference moving to a virtual events platform and the University Press Redux event morphing into a series of webinars. This year’s British Book Awards, which Glassboxx is sponsoring, will take place online in late June.

All these moves have been facilitated by relatively new technology like streaming, social media platforms and video conferencing, all of which have connected people online like never before. If the pandemic had occurred just 15 years ago, very little of this virtual engagement would have been possible, but the last few months have brought a wave of new digital interactions.

All of this tech has brought people closer to their favourite authors than ever before. Consumers have been quite literally invited into their homes, putting questions direct to writers and drawing along with illustrators. Immersive platforms have been able to replicate some of the feelings of being part of a literary festival. And the vast majority of all this new engagement has been completely free, which has opened up access: more people registered for Hay’s digital event than went along in person last year, making its reach wider than ever before. That is good news for publishers, who can increase exposure for their books at a time when people are reading more. For those confined to home or placed on furlough from work, new digital content has been very welcome.

It remains to be seen how much of this virtual activity continues after the end of lockdown. Readers may well come to realise just how much they value face to face contact with authors and the company of others at literary events. But many consumers won’t forget the online events they enjoyed during lockdown, nor the access to authors that they have been granted.

It has reinforced a much wider trend for direct access among readers. We’re seeing more and more people head straight to the creators to get their books and audio. This creates a need to reach people on an individual level, and connect with them where they want to be: on social media and on websites. Firsty’s Glassboxx solution, which enables publishers, authors and retailers to sell eBooks and digital audio content directly, securely and quickly to end-users, can help with this.

The full impacts of the pandemic are yet to emerge, but there’s no doubt that it has changed the way people discover and buy content—and it’s helping to turn the tide towards direct-to-consumer sales.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑