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Data-driven publishing is the future

James Levy explains how publishers can use the Hiptype platform to make smarter publishing decisions.

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As our industry shifts from print to ebooks we’re discovering a wealth of new data to study. Retailers hold most of the cards for this data, but a startup named Hiptype is looking to change that. In the interview below, Hiptype’s president and CEO James Levy (@jamtoday) talks about how their platform works and how it can lead to making smarter publishing decisions.

Key points from the full video interview (below) include:

  • What exactly is “data-driven” publishing? — It goes beyond simple sales stats and review information to understanding how the product is used; where readers spend the most time; and even though we don’t like to think about it, how far they get before they abandon a book. [Discussed at the 0:43 mark.]
  • Where sharing happens — The majority of content sharing with friends takes place in either the first 10 pages or the last 10 pages of the book. [Discussed at 3:00.]
  • Why the first 50 pages matter — Almost a third of readers won’t return to the book by page 50. 85% of readers who get to page 50 are likely to read the next 50 pages. Think about that the next time you release an ebook sample with only 10 or 12 pages. [Discussed at 3:15.]
  • Low conversion of samples — Not only are there loads of unread samples sitting on most devices, but only 4% of all samples downloaded are ever read at all. [Discussed at 4:46.]
  • Like “Google Analytics for ebooks” — That’s probably the best analogy for Hiptype and, prior to Hiptype, the benefits analytics have provided websites haven’t been available for ebooks. [Discussed at 5:50.]
  • Will readers revolt against Big Brother? — Readers can opt out, and the data Hiptype gathers is all anonymized. [Discussed at 6:45.]
  • New revenue streams — Subscription models, similar to what we’re seeing with gaming and apps, as well as more promoted content are likely to become very common; reader data for these models will be extremely valuable to publishers and advertisers. [Discussed at 8:20.]
  • “Make something that people want” — Hiptype is a startup that went through the Y Combinator incubator program, providing seed money and mentor advice as well as access to the alumni network. [Discussed at 13:37.]

You can view the entire interview in the following video.


Data is an area everyone in publishing needs to learn more about. That’s one of the many reasons O’Reilly launched the Strata conference. I highly recommend you follow all the data space news and developments on our Strata home page. Be sure to sign up for the free newsletter offered there as well.

This post is part of the TOC podcast series. You can also subscribe to the free TOC podcast through iTunes.

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