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Richard Eoin Nash, VP, Content & Community,

The primary issue facing publishers is discoverability.  This is a result of the industry’s own success in providing a high level of supply.  Both within the industry and outside it.  2.8 million books published in the US.  Much from content farms, but about 350K from the major publishers – and revenue is still essentially flat. Average revenue by title cut by 93%.

As the effects of sexism and racism diminished, but did not go away, more and more people began to publish.  Spent the last century getting better and better at making books and paying no attention to whether there was an audience for the books.  Retailers took care of finding the audience.  25 years ago only about 25,000 books were published a year, and so selection was limited and it was much easier to find stuff. Today, the question is figuring out demand.  For a long time Oprah, and people like her, were the salvation of publishing – Today Show, NPR etc. “blessed” books and this trickled down.  Actually, the Oprah book club was a trojan horse that allowed her to get into the daily lives of her audience, instead of being there for 1 hour a day on her show.

Discovery is not a one way street – not just giving readers what you think they want, need to get the data from the consumers back to the publisher.

Some current data sources:

shopping cart: people who bought, also bought.  Well known algorithm. But note that don’t know if buyer read the book he bought – gift, etc.

the like: from Facebook.  More recent data set. Facebook tracks what people like, calls it the “interest graph” The like has become pervasive.  2.7 billion likes a day.  Means each person giving about 4,000 likes a year and this “debases the currency”.

the taste graph: exemplified through Netflix using its star system as a basis for recommendations.

Small Demons does not use these for discovery. They use the book itself. Take all the cultural references of cars, people, food, music, places, events, movies etc from a book and compile into a database. You can research the database for things that interest you.  Not a recommendation engine. It creates a map that allows people to create their own journey through culture.  Similar to the way one could browse through a bookstore.


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