NY Times ebook initiative could be so much more

TimesFiles would benefit from a direct channel & community curation

The NY Times realized they were sitting on a mountain of valuable older content. Readers might discover it through search but why not curate and convert it into ebooks? That’s exactly what they’ve done with their TimesFiles initiative.

It’s a great idea but I’m puzzled over why they’re only selling them through ebook retailers. Why not go direct? I suppose they could be testing the waters this way and if retail sales generate enough interest perhaps they’ll make the investment to add a shopping cart system to the TimesFiles site and sell direct.

┬áIn the mean time though they’re missing out on all the benefits of the direct channel. The primary one, of course, is getting to know your customer and establishing a relationship with them. There are plenty of up-sell and cross-sell opportunities they could pursue but they can’t as long as they’re only selling through someone else.

And since there are only a couple dozen TimesFiles available today it makes me wonder if they’re unable to dedicate the editorial resources to build more. Here’s an idea: Let the community help. I’m sure plenty of people would love the opportunity to search across the Times archive and assemble ebooks on topics they’re passionate about. Some might volunteer but imagine if the curator also received a cut of the resulting sales?

I hope the Times folks don’t abandon the Files idea because retailer sell-through was modest. It could lead to all sorts of new community engagement and revenue if they’d add the direct channel and an open curation option.

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