Wednesday, June 10, 2009

eMartketing Thoughts: 4. How Green is Your Catalogue?

We have ebooks, we have environmental friendly books, but we still have huge amounts of book miles and waste. However we often ignore that many still promote their books with ‘unfriendly’ catalogues that are scattered like seeds, far and wide. These often eye-catching glossies contain some books form whom the catalogue is often their only real chance to be seen over the parapet and to attract attention. The question is whether digital technology can help; spread the word better, reduce the waste and increase sales?

Last month Ingram Marketing Group performed a survey which attracted some 2,000 responses from buyers in; public libraries, independent stores, chains, school libraries and higher education. It found that over 49% of respondents were open to using an ecatalogue instead of print one and some 60% had already reviewed books via an ecatalogue. Interestingly 81% of chains said it was a good experience and the majority all said that an ecatalogue was a useful supplement to the physical one. Again the two greatest benefits respondents felt ecatalogues gave were in; improving the environment 28% and reducing clutter 23%.

So it appears that the market is responsive to making catalogues digital.

Do we merely replicate the physical catalogue and send it as a ‘flat’ PDF via email, or do we open it up with embedded widgets, weblinks and extra information that space doesn’t permit within the printed version? The question is about whether we maintain the constraints of the physical page, or break out of them and the structure it imposes?

There is the obvious timing issue. There are catalogues of forthcoming titles whose materials may still be in flux and there are catalogues which reflect the full list on offer and often have both depth of material and are accurate. Unlike the physical world, the digital world can offer real time accuracy and authority. The digital catalogue should always be current and if you changed the jacket today, it will be instantly rendered to all.

A digital catalogue is virtual and can be dynamically rendered many ways from the same source. It’s like looking into a house through different windows, same house different views.

Finally, the digital catalogue offers that one extra it can automatically capture, feedback, queries and of course the order of the physical books which can even reflect individual terms and be posted directly into the publisher's back office system, cutting out even more waste.


HelenaM said...

When I asked Ingrams the respondent demographic to that survey they said:

"The respondents were all in the US - 25000 retailers and librarians"

Geo-location is significant to the e-catalogue proposition for a number of reasons. But internet access and preferred ways of working vary greatly in export markets.

Would be great if the UK & US could move to e-catalogues. Might be more of a challenge else where.

Martyn Daniels said...

Sorry Helen you are correct this is a survey of US market. It would be interesting if the survey was performed in other markets such as the UK and although i suspect there will be differences i believe the trend will be similiar.
Outside the UK and US markets the trends and speed of change is far more unpredictable.
Thanks for comment