Published by FirstyNews
Gareth Cuddy, CEO – ePubDirect
“Building a strong management team is crucial for any business looking to scale quickly,” says Gareth Cuddy, CEO of ePubDirect. “I was able to pull together a really experienced team, each person bringing strengths from other markets and sectors that have contributed to what we are trying to achieve in the publishing arena.” And ePubDirect has, since it was set up in 2009, achieved a great deal. After just a few short years, it is now a leading player in eBook distribution, with a client list of more than 150 publishers, including heavyweights such as Random House and Osprey, and has picked up more than 20 business awards, among them Emerging Business of the Year (2011) and Innovation of the Year (2013) for its breakthrough eBookInsights analytics platform.
“Awards don’t pay the bills,” Gareth comments, “but they are a great validation of our work.” The core of ePubDirect’s work is world-class eBook distribution. When digital publishing was still in its infancy, the company provided other services such as eBook conversion, but with the myriad of suppliers and tools now out there, it has chosen to focus almost exclusively on distributing content. The company currently distributes to about 27,000 channels – retail and libraries. “We continue to innovate in order to improve our core service. We feel that our value lies in our specialisation.”
Gareth’s working life began in bars and nightclubs – running them – which he says was a great way to develop his sales and pitching skills. He went on to create a successful eCommerce website, subsequently selling his stake in it and then finishing his English and History degree. In his final year at university, his wife bought him one of the early eReaders, which spurred him into creating an eBookstore in 2009. “But before I launched the store,” he says, “I talked to publishers and saw they were at the very beginning of eBook adoption and needed the expertise and technology to capitalise on it. That was the genesis of ePubDirect.”
The distribution challenge now for publishers, he says, is reconciling the many complexities inherent in distributing internationally. The company’s eBookInsights technology allows it to consolidate thousands of reports into an easy-to-use dashboard and enables clients to track sales and marketing efforts across multiple stores. “This simplification of data while maintaining granular reporting in the background is crucial to our publishers’ success in an increasingly complex marketplace.”
The company’s immediate plans are to expand into the US, where there are more than 85,000 publishers whom Gareth considers are currently underserviced. In the UK as in the US, he believes that by adopting the latest distribution technologies and a more co-operative strategy, publishers can regain lost ground and re-assert themselves as the key stakeholders in the industry. “Technology can be of huge assistance to publishers, but the mind-set must change also,” he says. “Many of our clients are pleasantly surprised at the rewards they can reap by being a little adventurous in terms of pricing and metadata.”
He cites two recent examples where being a little adventurous paid off – and some. “In one case we helped a publisher with a price experiment for a backlist title, and sales shot up by more than 60%. Counter-intuitively, this sustained boost in sales came as a result of a 40% price increase!” In another case, ePubDirect helped a publisher to optimise the metadata on a title. Within two weeks, sales increased by 300% and the title now contributes significantly to monthly revenue. “There was no budget outlay, no gimmicks, no tricks, just metadata changes,” says Gareth. “Having a platform that lets you make changes quickly and monitor them regularly offers great flexibility and can yield huge benefits. This type of control and flexible thinking is crucial to the success of the book publishing industry in the long-term.”