Discovery and data go hand in hand

The fourth in a series looking at the major themes of this year's TOC conference.

At TOC, you’re as likely to run into media professionals, entrepreneurs and innovators as you are publishers, booksellers and others working in traditional publishing. This, in turn, makes the underlying themes as varying and diverse as the attendees. This is the fourth in a series, taking a look at five themes that permeated interviews, sessions and/or keynotes at this year’s show. The complete series will be posted here.

Discovering how readers discover books and other types of content is becoming more and more important as the digital era ushers in a multitude of avenues for readers to find books, blogs, news, websites, etc. At this year’s TOC show, the issue of discovery was a major theme, and in many discussions, data and discovery went hand in hand.

Otis Chandler, founder and CEO of, presented a data-driven analysis of how people find books in the “How Consumers Discover Books Online” session. He defined discovery as “all the touchpoints in the mind of the consumer it takes to get them to decide to purchase and read a book.” Using Goodreads’ data as a basis, he shared the ways people discover books:


Tied with people adding books during Goodreads registration, “Search” was the number one method of discovery. And Chandler noted, “those users had heard of the books elsewhere.” Goodreads conducted a survey to find out exactly how readers found those books:


Chandler also noted discovery differences between types of readers. For instance, avid readers are less likely to find books through friend recommendations than casual readers, but more likely than casual readers to find books through Goodreads’ recommendations. Different genres had unique results as well — romance, fantasy, SciFi, and YA readers were more likely find books by browsing genres and lists, for instance.

The slide presentation from the session can be found here.

The “Beyond ‘Discovery’ — Understanding The True Potential Of An Insight-oriented Publishing Environment” session addressed the issue of discovery from a data standpoint as well, in terms of how data is used to facilitate discovery. Presenters Kristen McLean, founder and CEO of Bookigee, and Kelly Gallagher, vice president of publishing services at RR Bowker, took a look at how data used to be treated and how data needs to be used now to be effective. This is what Data & Information 1.0 looked like:


And this is what Data & Information 2.0 looks like:


Data & Information 2.0 takes the data and analysis, puts it into context and uses it to achieve more effective discovery and sales:


The session also reviewed some tools and insights to help content creators better connect with readers and discussed the importance of engaging customers in real-time. The session slides can be found here as soon as they are available.

In a video interview, Linda Gagnon, senior vice president of Global Digital Markets at Baker & Taylor, addressed the issue of discovery from an ecosystem standpoint. She said “the key is going to be getting consumers to discover they can consume content on a multitude of devices — that’s really where the future is: discovery and utilization of these new devices with content that they’re used to.” As to how less-avid readers can be brought into the ecosystem and how they can discover content, she responded:

“Over 70% of consumers have never bought a digital book. It’s that 70% that we need to now attract. They haven’t decided to buy a dedicated device because there’s no need to expend the money for that because they just don’t read that often. So, we need to find them where they live. The OEMs have a way to connect with them with the devices that [consumers] have for multi-purposes. The next step is to provide ways of discovering the content that is most important to them across those devices, so they’re not tied into any specific ecosystem … once they experience content that’s relevant to them, I think that will drive additional purchases once they get hooked.”

Gagnon’s entire interview can be viewed in the following video:

If you couldn’t make it to TOC, or you missed a session you wanted to see, sign up for the TOC 2012 Complete Video Compilation and check out our archive of free keynotes and interviews.


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