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How a well-known book publisher keeps its popularity alive

In my previous article, I did  a case study on Pay Less Bookstore’s online site and have some ideas on how the bookstore could expand its existing base. Today, let’s talk about a very popular book publisher: The Dummies series.

Most of us would at least have 1 book from either the Complete Idiot’s Guide or the ____ for Dummies. For me, I have the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being an Entrepreneur (bought it first hand years ago during the heyday of my ambition to start my own business) and “Jewelry Beading and Beading for Dummies”. Once bought, these books are usually kept by the owners- I almost never seen these books being on sale at second hand bookstores.

Like any book publisher, the emergence of ebooks, self publishing and online book download would affect the business of bookstores. If bookstores are having problem selling their books, then there would be less demand for any published book.

In order to survive, book publishers would have no choice but to bring their business online- with the motto, ‘well, if you can’t beat them, join them!’

One good example is the website dummies.com- the publisher of the Dummies book series- instantly recognized by their trademark yellow and black colour combination.

Below is the snapsnot of the one of the pages of the dummies.com website under the section of Candle and Soap Making. Let’s see how this popular book publisher continues to position itself as a well known expert in all types of subjects:

1. Positioning itself as an eLearning Center

Knowing that online visitors have very short attention span, Dummies.com is able to capture the interest of its visitors with short tutorials, in written as well as video form. This provides a preview on what the books have to offer. And often, the Dummies guide have most of the topics under the sun well covered.

The information provided is enough to arouse curiosity- and if the visitor is genuinely interested in the topic and would like to know more, he/she may choose to purchase the physical or the ebook version of the Dummies guide. The site design is also very eye catching and brings back the familiarity of what we see in the bookstore on these books.

2. “If you can’t beat them, join them”- Monetize the site with 3rd party advertising.

Most net visitors love freebies- so 90% of visitors probably would not want to pay to get information. So they would buy the physical book or ebook.

(Anyway, sites like this have huge amount if visitors and even if only 1% ends up buying, the site would have been able to make a good profit).

What to do then? Provide so much of information for free? There is so much of costs involved just to built an interesting site like dummies.com with fresh content coming in all the time… not to mention to pay people to make the videos. So, the publisher had choose to monetize the website… with ……Google Adsense. See, there’s nothing wrong with monetizing the website with Google Adsense – it is a wise strategy.  Google Adsense is easy to set up, pays promptly and have a wide range of advertisers.


If you look at the picture above, you can see 2 blocks of 336 x 280 advertising blocks placed on the right of the site. And the top of the page also have an ad banner.

3. Attracting more followers, readers and keeping them.

Visitors are invited to sign up for newsletters to receive more updates on their topic of interest. Often, people don’t buy the first time but subtly as they receive more and more updates and gets familiar with the company, the buying may come later. This is something that a lot of internet marketeer knows about.

4. Interesting random topics and ‘from around the web’

Visitors with short attention span and roving eyes may be attracted by unrelated topics placed at the end of an article. After all, it’s a rich archive of topics to be discovered.  Most people are mindlessly surfing the net- we may initially start by looking for topics on ‘how to better organise your time’ and end up with ‘jokes for the day’ sites.

Aside from that, it also have antidotes from around the web.

Each time you refresh the page, even the same page, different topic comes up.

5. Going Mobile- purchasing apps and ebooks by Dummies.

Dummies have a Mobile Section where you can purchase application and mini ebooks on the most common and interesting topics sought by net readers.  Readers can buy the ebooks at the iTune store online.

These items are sold for a lower price- which the company would still get to keep the profits because of lower printing, physical distribution and storage cost. Also, promoting it online is 24/7 and effective. The page would be there for a long long time- as opposed to a localized newspaper ad or billboard which are very very expensive …not doubt the audience reach is higher but it is not targetted.

Visitors going to the iTunes would be specificially looking for that ebook or apps related to what they want.

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  • mike May 3, 2012, 4:11 am

    How can I subscribe to your digest?

    thanks

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