Mobile phones are distracting people from reading books in the Middle East
Publishing consultant Robert E Baensch talks about making reading relevant and attractive for people as the ratio of digital readers to print readers is increasing.
Sharjah - 1001 title initiative of the Knowledge Without Borders brought together publishers at the SIBF to learn about the tools and methodologies that will assist them in achieving their business targets.
Publishers need to use digital and online marketing platforms for sales and promotions of books, said Robert E Baensch, president, Baensch International Group Ltd and publishing consultant, during a session organised by the '1001 Titles' initiative at Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF).
1001 title initiative of the Knowledge Without Borders brought together publishers at the SIBF to learn about the tools and methodologies that will assist them in achieving their business targets while simultaneously promoting the rich Arabic culture throughout the Middle East and the West.
Baensch began his address by acknowledging the stiff challenges Arab publishers face today in increasing the demand for their product in a market represented by 87 per cent expats and massive penetration of digital technologies.
"As publishers, it is imperative that we quantify the rapid changes being experienced by our industry, changes being driven by urbanisation, affluence of a new and emerging class of customers, and, of course, the penetration of mobile devices. Eighty-two per cent people in the Middle East have access to mobile phones, which is a big distraction from reading a book. People's attention spans are shortening as we speak, and the need of the hour is to make reading relevant and attractive for people," Baensch commented while making his presentation.
"The ratio of digital readers to print readers is increasing, which is reflected by the bankruptcy of several newspapers and magazine companies in the US. Today, we compete not against other publishers, but against multimedia vying fiercely for the consumer's time and attention. This is our real challenge in the next five years, because we as publishers need to provide the consumer information about books and other new materials on platforms of their choice," he added.
He stressed on the need to use digital and online marketing platforms for sales and promotions, highlighting content marketing as the most effective digital tool in the promotion of books, which gives prospective buyers access to intros, sample chapters, illustrations and excerpts. Why?
"Because a printed catalogue of book titles will not provide a publisher with vital information on consumer behaviour and purchasing trends, while the metric systems devised in online marketing and buying platforms will track customer traffic and activity, record purchases, and even recommend books to customers," said Baensch.
Reflecting on the changing roles of a publisher in the digital context, he cited examples of new job roles like social media specialist, digital marketing managers that were not heard of a few years ago. Baensch reminded the session's participants to be proactive instead of reactive in adopting new online marketing practices, which will help them create pathways to broaden their customer outreach.