Jane Friedman's Open Road e-book company has had one million page views for its new, direct-to-consumer online community The Lineup in its first six months of existence, Friedman revealed at the FutureBook Conference today (4th December).
Open Road aims to get 10m unique users of The Lineup, which focuses on true crime, and it will take advertising, she said, at a panel session entitled "Face Out: Strategies that Work and Why".
The Lineup is set to be the first of many such communities developed by Open Road, which is making a strong push into direct-to-consumer marketing, offering daily deals and giveaways via website earlybirdbooks.com, supported by a five-days-a-week newsletter.
"At the moment we are just influencing consumers, who then buy from other retailers, but there is room for an app, building our own platform, and, with investment, turning Open Road into the company we would like to see," Friedman said.
The D2C initiative is the latest development from the five-year-old venture, which has now clocked up 15m downloads of its backlist e-books, with the help of extensive marketing on its proprietary online platform.
However, Open Road has always had good relationships with retailers, emphasised Friedman, noting that the company had 500 e-books out of 1,000 promoted by Amazon for Black Friday, resulting in a "very, very successful day."
Also contributing to the panel, Asi Sharabi of start-up Lost.myName, currently celebrating passing the one million sales mark with its personalised picturebook The Little Boy/Girl Who Lost His/Her Name, said the company was "proud about the fact we innovate with one of the oldest and most beloved things - the book", and that the genesis of the project had been "sitting around a table saying, 'There's something genuinely interesting in [personalised books], can we make them better?" Execution is everything, Sharabi said, adding: "Never, ever be satisfied; nothing is ever complete; look for continuous improvement."
Sharabi highlighted the fact that Lost.myName has "100% control over every aspect of the supply chain" for its titles, owning the IP to the work, as well as the website, and its customer support operation.
Meanwhile from Harvard Business Review Group, Sarah McConville talked of the digital and print "ecosystem" delivering value to users, while Morten Strunge from the Denmark-based Mofibo said the company was investing heavily in marketing, as well as in its algorithms, to ensure readers have relevant recommendations, as key to its business is the retention of customers.