Measuring engagement is nothing new for marketers, but the concept remains virtually untouched by the publishing industry. It often seems that publishers are more concerned about selling books than about pinpointing their readership demographics.
Knowing what types of readers their books attract would help publishers immeasurably. Understanding the makeup of their readership would allow publishers to direct advertisements and book recommendations toward their target audiences, ultimately improving their sales.
Currently, the e-reader platforms collect extensive information about their readers. They know who is buying, when they are buying certain types of books, and how much of their purchased books they have actually read. After Google, Apple, and Amazon have gathered reader data, they generally withhold that information from publishers. That leaves publishers with minimal information about their readers.
Jellybooks’ Ebook Analytics
Jellybooks, a new business set to launch in spring 2016, has set out to change the face of ebook analytics. The company embeds a tracker in books published on the EPUB 3 platform. Readers of these tracked books have to press a button each time they finish a chapter or the entire book. The button links to an online site than synchs the information about the extent of their reading.
In return for agreeing to be tracked, Jellybooks gives its readers the books for free. At least during the beta testing period, participation is by invitation only. The service works with Ebook Reader, Adobe Digital Editions, and Apple iBooks.
Jellybooks measures three areas that publishers care about. The first is completion rate, or how many readers succeed in finishing the book. The second is velocity, or how rapidly the readers consume the book. Last, and most important, is how likely the readers who finished the book are to recommend it to others.
Ebook Analytics Are Not New
The idea of analyzing ebooks to benefit publishers is not completely new. In June 2012, a startup called Hiptype aimed to give publishers’ insight into their customers’ reading habits. After six months, Hiptype closed down, mainly due to conflict with the ebook platforms.
First, Apple updated iBooks, disabling code features that Hiptype needed to function. Then, discussions with other platforms stalled. Apparently, Barnes & Noble and Amazon had little interest in cooperating with Hiptype’s plan to insert a snippet of code into their ebooks. That code would send information back to publishers, and the platforms would rather reserve those types of measurements for their own viewing only.
So far, the major ebook platforms don’t seem opposed to Jellybooks. However, as useful as analytics are to publishers, the technology does raise some concerns about privacy. Jellybooks makes inroads into tracking one more area of our lives, making reading less of a personal activity.