Friday, May 13, 2011

Enhanced eBook for iPad: The Universal Language

Author Wolf Price impressed us with his latest project: an album of recordings made during 11 months of travel through Asia with his wife, Ada. Wolf used studio-quality recording equipment to produce an album of the indigenous folk music they encountered. Richly illustrated with photos and text, the music in this album is put into the eye-opening context of their adventure.

When it came time to package his experience, as an artist, Wolf could not leave the music outside the book or feature the pictures apart from the music. He needed a way to present his experience in an integrated way. He chose to create a .zip archive containing 14 mp3 audios along with a 19 page PDF album book. Buyers of this format can conveniently move the audio files to their iPods for easy listening.

As we reviewed the material, we were struck by the engaging photography contained in the album book and how the images bring out the personality of the music. Wolf enthusiastically supported our idea of creating an enhanced ePub for iPad users. This 19 page album book, with its dramatic photos, has individual audio tracks embedded with the text such that the story of the adventure comes to life.

From our perspective, both versions successfully deliver the listener/reader into the sights as well as the sounds of rural life in the cultures of Mongolia, Thailand, Nepal, and India. However, the iPad epub version brings the printed text and music together in an effortless manner for a richer learning and entertainment experience than can be achieved by merely reproducing books or music alone.


The Universal Language: Indigenous Asia
The Universal Language: Indigenous Asia, iPad ebook edition
Youtube trailer

And our own video showing off the iPad version:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Share it, or perish

An interesting aspect of working with publishers is seeing what works well, not so well, or doesn't work at all. At the top of list of what works: active sharing, promoting, posting, tweeting, or otherwise getting the word out through all electronic means so others pick up on it. There is a certain relentless nature to the most successful Bitmenu publishers. They continually refresh their offerings and find ways to be newsworthy, re-tweetable, and like-able. After all, connecting comes before sharing.

Successful Bitmenu publishers commit to a production plan, regular announcements and new product. We see these publishers reap the benefits of executing ongoing production and promotion schedules to build an effective rhythm with their communities. Successful promotions see a sales curve that hits within a few minutes of the first announcement, with several mini-spikes of sales as buyers discover the offer through their regular news-reading, friends and searches. This chart of "Sales (Hourly) After Promo" is from one publisher's mid-December campaign.

This Bitmenu publisher noted that their community consumes media mostly on the weekends and evenings. Being mostly North American based, the publisher did some A/B testing and found that early Friday afternoon email broadcasts were their most effective promotion. An email blast that costs $100 per promotion now generates thousands of dollars in revenue each week. Items promoted on Friday see increased sales levels throughout the weekend and even into the week after the announcement. The members of their community, who have opted-in to receive emails, often look at every notice they is sent and make purchases after careful consideration.

The old saying "a high tide lifts all boats" also applies here. Propagation across the community takes a few hours, but once it gains momentum, it can go for a few days. In another example after a sports event, sales of race videos peaked a day after they were announced via Twitter and the publisher's web site. In this chart (left), sales peaked at over 100 in a day, then slowly tapered off.

We often see a flurry of purchases for a featured item, but just as often we also see other items purchased at the same time even if they were not directly promoted. Enabling several purchase points seems to make a difference. Publishers who mix links to their site with links to a featured item can measure the effects when they continue to promote on a regular schedule.