HC: 'We won't take on Amazon'

<p>HarperCollins&rsquo; new director of digital development has said that the publisher will not &quot;take on Amazon&quot; by selling direct to book buyers, as it relaunches its consumer-facing website.</p><p>The beta version of the HC site went live last week. It provides users with author pages, a tagged browsing system, where they can look up books with a common theme, and resources for setting up reading groups. </p><p>Unlike other publisher sites such as Penguin and Bloomsbury&rsquo;s, HC&rsquo;s does not allow users to buy books direct&mdash;there is an Amazon buy button on each book&rsquo;s page. Director of digital development Charlie Redmayne said that HarperCollins&rsquo; new site would not try to &ldquo;take on Amazon&rdquo;. &ldquo;It would be foolish; [Amazon is] a tremendous brand,&rdquo; said Redmayne, who was hired from Sky to oversee HC&rsquo;s digital strategy. </p><p>Instead, HC will offer exclusive content to users online. &ldquo;Things such as special editions, signed editions or where things are no longer available we could deliver on a p.o.d. basis. It&rsquo;s filling the gaps and making opportunities of the things that we have but others don&rsquo;t.&rdquo;</p><p>The site will respond to user suggestions over the next few months. &ldquo;The key thing is getting the navigation right,&rdquo; Redmayne said. &ldquo;That has to show the breadth of what we offer and make sure that using it is as seamless and easy as possible. The most important thing is to make sure that everything anyone might want is one click away.&rdquo;</p><p>The publisher is also launching Lola&rsquo;s Land, a new social networking site for &ldquo;tween&rdquo; girls, on Monday. Its Authonomy website, where authors can upload their manuscripts and recommend others, will be soft-launched within the next week.</p><p>Redmayne said that the online arena allows publishers to conduct a more targeted marketing campaign. &ldquo;Take a book by Tana Ramsay. I can market that on a website where I&rsquo;m reaching 25 to 45-year-old women and no one else. There&rsquo;s real precision and no wastage there.&rdquo;</p><p>However, he stressed that HC&rsquo;s priority would continue to be the physical book. &ldquo;I think publishing companies in general are understanding their futures are bigger than just being book publishers,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It will always be the first and most important part of what we do, but there&rsquo;s the opportunity to exploit content in other forms.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p>