Just a few weeks ago, team OverDrive was exhibiting at the Javitz Center amidst the hustle and bustle of Book Expo America. Between participating in IDPF’s Digital Book 2012 and getting our books signed by Michael Ian Black, we were also sitting down with our publishing partners.
We were happy to hear success stories from Baker Publishing Group, which publishes a wide range of Christian fiction and nonfiction for evangelical readers. We took some time post-BEA to talk with Nathan Henrion, the company’s national sales manager, about Baker Publishing Group’s digital content offering and its growth in the library space.
OverDrive: How long have you been working with OverDrive, and what drove your initial transition into the digital marketplace?
Baker Publishing Group: Baker Publishing Group began working with Overdrive in April of 2010. We had made a start in the digital marketplace in early 2009, but it took us about a year to get our ebook inventory built and our conversion system in place.
OD: Have you been surprised by increased sales in a particular section of your catalog? For example, are mid and backlist titles selling more than you had anticipated? Is there a particular genre that is doing exceptionally well?
BPG: The most surprising aspect of the digital marketplace (and this is thinking back to the mindset of 2010) is the uptick in backlist sales. “Backlist” and “Frontlist” are industry terms, and are not consumer terms. As long as the content is relevant, and it fulfills a reader’s interest at the time they are looking for it, then an old title will perform just as well, if not better, than a new release. Now, obviously certain titles and genres age quicker than others as far as reader interest is concerned, but for us, many of our most successful titles in digital sales are those that released more than 5 years ago.
One of the interesting facts about working with OverDrive in particular is that in the past 12 months Overdrive has booked sales on 74% of the titles making up our digital trade catalog. This compares to 49% of our print catalog having library sales over the same time period.
Another great surprise has been the increase in international sales. We are getting our authors’ content into more international libraries than ever before. The hurdles for a small to mid -size publisher to execute these placements are very high in the print environment. Not so with digital. While this is no longer a revelation, I don’t believe we were expecting it back at the beginning.
OD: What factors influenced the decision to work with the library market?
BPG: Baker Publishing Group has always had a robust presence in the library market for print, so moving to participation with the digital side of the channel was just a natural step. We view it as a lateral move, and not a completely different paradigm. With publishers there is much contention on that point, but it is how we choose to see the landscape.
OD: How have sales and promotions through OverDrive affected your digital strategy?
BPG: Working with OverDrive has opened up more promotional opportunities directed to the library market. As we do not sell direct to libraries, we rely on the distributors taking promotions to market. OverDrive has offered us creative access to this process and has worked with us to offer libraries promotional opportunities that really are unparalleled in the print environment.
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