With the rise of Social Media, publishers, authors, journalists and bloggers are jumping on the bandwagon of Facebook and Twitter.
If we were to use the diffusion of innovation framework by Prof. Roger, we could perhaps say that after Innovators and Early Adopters also Early Majority is moving in now.
What about the Pinterest, one of the newest large scale social media?
Almost nobody in book publishing has yet figured out what to do with it or - at the very least- if they have figured it out, they are avoiding to show it off.
In fact, all big publishers hold accounts on Pinterest, maybe just for the sake of being therein and/or running experiments, if we judge by the very low numbers of pins and followers. Especially pins that strictly feature book covers are just a few hundreds in most cases, a tiny percentage of the catalogue published by any of the Big 6.
It's not a surprise to see that the number of followers is generally very modest with the noticeable exception of RH.
This happens not just because there aren't enough book covers, but also because there isn't much else beyond covers. Books are more than just packages. Covers (although very important) do tell very little about the content. Apart from our self-hedonistic pleasure of showing book covers and feeling better than competitors, what's the purpose of using Pinterest?
More importantly what is value for readers? What can they do beyond taking a voyeuristic view to such covers? As a matter of facts, readers can do almost nothing with them and that explains why such Pinterest accounts aren't followed by many. Books are to be sensed, skimmed, read and owned. Not just watched from the surface of a jacket. Cool book jackets without books are a bit like sexy underwear without girls/boys underneath... who cares?
Now, to be fair with publishers, Pinterest was not designed explicitly for book publishing.
As a matter of fact, Pinterest has been built to pin pictures and short descriptions so as to trigger comments and sharing among the users.
Therefore first wave of publishers who wanted to embrace this new social media had just one simple options at arm's length. Simply use book jackets as images so as to make them pinnable, commentable and shareable among users. When other publishers joined Pinterest , they just copied what the others had done. Publishing still is an industry with a long standing tradition of replicating what others do. Continuous radical innovation is a value pursued by very few.
After having invented and launched the eBooks on Board of high speed trains with wireless streaming technology, at RCS Libri we have thought howto use Pinterest in an innovative way that would add value to both our readers and authors at the very least.
Just a week ago, during the Turin Book Fair, we launched our new project. Again with our streaming technology. But not just on high speed trains, rather on the entire web through Pinterest. RCS Libri is the second largest book publishing group in Italy and owner of - among other publishing houses - Rizzoli, Bompiani and Fabbri Editori. Over 3.000 ebooks are currently published under RCS Libri’s owned brands.
Here's our new value proposition to book readers:
- Whenever they like a book cover featured in one of our Pinterest boards, they can click on it and immediately open the book in digital form:
- online and for free
- inside their preferred web browser (including Mozilla, Explorer, Chrome, Safari...)
- They can immediately start reading the Book and understand if it's what they are looking for. No need to have a Kindle, an iPad or any dedicated ereading software. NO DRM. Just one-click on the cover and the book opens...
- Of course it won't be the entire Book, but a sizeable sample (approx. 10%).
Finally Pinterest gets meaningful also for book readers. Instead of static book jackets, they get lively ebooks to be sensed, skimmed, read. Not just sexy underwear but also the a real meat underneath!! (at least a taste thereof).
Currently we have over 100 featured titles and 16 boards on our new Pinterest account (www.pinterest.com/rcsebook). Even independent bloggers have started using our pins in their own boards. We have got the very first preliminary signs already, that this service might potentially provide values not only to readers and authors but also to bloggers, journalists and other stakeholders. It is still to be seen if this will be the actual case. The future will tell.
It doesn’t matter that currently, in Italy, the ebook business is just around 2% of entire trade book business.This service is about content. Any format. It’s has never been too early to do online publishing activities on books, since the era of World Wide Web (1993).
While we are not sure how many other publishers abroad are offering a similar service already (it would be interesting to know and share key learnings), we do know that in Italy we are the first large publishers to offer it.
eBooks as a service is one of our innovation paradigms. On high speed trains and on Pinterest today. Tomorrow we will see… this is just the very beginning. Obviously.