'A relationship with new English language readers'
As the 22nd Beijing International Book Fair convenes, Boston-based Trajectory has announced a suite of new partnerships, capped by one that will take the Pan Macmillan UK catalog into China.
"China is a key focus for Pan Macmillan," said PanMac's international director Jonathan Atkins in a prepared statement, "and we are very excited by the potential for growth in this most dynamic market. This partnership with Trajectory, whose innovative and pioneering approach has opened many doors in China, will enable us to build a relationship with new English language readers and further develop that potential."
The deal sees Trajectory globally distributing PanMac UK's English-language ebooks to online retailers, libraries, schools, and to "alternative and other digital distribution channels."
A key element here is the NLP or natural language processing algorithms that Trajectory has developed as an edge in many international distribution deals, particularly in China. The system "reads" books to analyze their text in terms of myriad "vectors."
One result: a potential for reader recommendations based not on a customer's past purchase records but on the actual content of previously read work. Another application of this technology is the ability to deepen the metadata built around titles that are crossing linguistic borders. Thus, a Chinese reader intersted in English-language titles on a given subject can more easily find the right books because the Trajectory system has correlated English-language metadata with Mandarin parallels.
"Trajectory's Natural Language Processing engine is able to generate keywords in Chinese, Spanish, German, English and other languages so that readers can locate books of interest," says a statement from Trajectory's representatives in Boston, "The Trajectory NLP technology is part of the new agreement with Pan Macmillan and key to international digital distribution."
- Trajectory c.e.o. Jim Bryant and chief content officer Scott Beatty will speak at Frankfurt Book Fair on Friday 16th October (3 p.m.) in a "Hug the Alien" session at Buchmesse's Business Club, describing the "intelligent network," as they call it, that the combination of NLP capabilities and ebook distribution channels is creating.
- They're also on the roster for Frankfurt's The Markets Conference, on 13th October, during which their specializations in the Chinese arena will factor into their presentations on the trade there.
A 'multi-channel approach'
In a statement on the PanMac arrangement — among Trajectory's biggest yet in Big Five trade — Bryant said, "The market in China and the world for prominent titles in English is tremendous. The Chinese eBook market today and other territories within our network are growing rapidly with many readers consuming eBooks on their mobile devices."
Bryant has been named a senior consultant to the China Ministry of Culture to advise on international digital export opportunities. While at the Beijing International Book Fair, he and/or Beatty will be featured on three panels
For his part, Beatty, who spoke to The FutureBook this week while traveling, said in his statement, "Our multi-channel approach is well suited for Pan Macmillan to reach the international market. China is the second largest publishing market in the world and one that cannot be ignored.
"Reaching readers simply through a handful of ebook retailers is not sufficient.
"A multi-channel, multi-device, international approach serves both readers and publishers in the most efficient manner.”
Beatty likes to talk about 230,000 "digital endpoints" in the Trajectory system, by which he means potential points of sale and/or usage. In some cases, for example, these may be educational settings or libraries, all of them supported by the semantic analysis engines that parse the textual elements of books and compare the results with other books' features. That analysis-distribution combination has led, for example, to partnerships with the massive Tencent Literature based in Shanghai and the Beijing-based Xiaomi.
China Democracy and Legal System Publishing House
During the Beijing International Book Fair, Trajectory will sign another new partnership, this one with the China Democracy and Legal System Publishing House. This partnership is intended to distribute Chinese content to what Trajectory describes as "libraries and ebook retailers in North America and...the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, India, and South American" markets.
“We’ve identified a significant amount of demand around the world for Chinese professional content,” said Bryant in his statement on this one, stressing that distribution in this instance is, again, digital, for consumers to use "on their phones and tablets.”
Publishers Weekly (PW) characterized China Publishing Group (CPG) in 2014 — parent company to China Democracy and Legal System — as one of china's largest publishing holding companies with "40 large publishing houses [and] 96 subsdidiaries and three wholesalers."
In PW's analysis, "CPG has a catalog of 20,000 ebooks. The CNPeReading platform, launched in 2013, aims to bring Chinese readers access to international journals and other electronic resources through libraries and schools. Since its launch in summer 2013, the database has accumulated 1.6 million digital titles and added a new service called Language Cloud."
Trajectory's announcement adds that the output of the CPG aggregate is more than 10,000 new titles annually. CPG annually, "concludes the rights transactions of over 1000 titles with foreign counterparts," according to Trajectory's materials.
In Beatty's statement on the CPG arrangement, he specifies that the catalog involved in this partnership is focused in "law, social science, politics, business and finance."
Capstone, Purdue University, and Ohio University presses
More announcements from the busy Trajectory offices are of "major partnership and China import agreements with a broad range of English language publishers from North America and Europe including Capstone Publishing, Purdue University Press, and Ohio University Press."
In these cases, Trajectory's operation will present titles from those Western houses to "Amazon China, JD.com, Dangdang, Xiaomi, Tencent, and CNPIEC for Chinese libraries." Veteran Trajectory-watchers will know that its own partnerships in China include Xioami, Tencent, Dangdang, and JD, among others.
One of the considerations in regard to these titles is communicating to non-native English speakers what reading level of difficulty they'll encounter in a given text, another specialty of Trajectory's breakdowns of content for the Chinese market. Part of the goal, Bryant and Beatty have told The FutureBook, is to signal to Chinese readers which books can help them learn a set of key English words that are designated by government educational programs as essential for English language certification programmes.
Peter C. Froehlich of Purdue University Press is quoted in this instance, saying that Trajectory's reach should "enhance our distribution and dissemination efforts, especially in developing regions and new markets,"
At Ohio University Press, director and editor-in-chief Gillian Berchowitz is quoted saying, "We were searching for a partner that could help us get our eBooks to the widest possible section of the marketplace. The Trajectory natural language processing engine is impressive with its presentation of Mandarin language enriched metadata.”
You can see some of the Mandarin NLP work Trajectory is doing reflected in its display of a series of titles for Chinese metadata searches here.
In regards to this suite of partnerships, Bryant's statement reads, in part, that the company's NLP-parsed metadata "will enable potential book buyers to visualize these brilliant ebooks in a compelling new way. Allowing foreign language readers to see the reading level of a book will help drive more informed decisions. Highlighting the English language words that appear in each book that are used in English language proficiency exams such as TOEFL and IELTS will provide an incentive for readers to select a book.”
Main image - iStockphoto: bingdian
- Digital Marketing
- Pan Macmillan UK
- natural language processing
- Frankfurt book fair
- The Markets
- China Democracy and Legal System
- China Publishing Group
- Capstone Publishing
- Purdue University Press
- Ohio University Press
- Jonathan Atkins
- Peter C. Froehlich
- Gillian Berchowitz
- Jim Bryant
- Scott Beatty
- Porter Anderson