Major Publishers tend to rely on companies such as Amazon, Kobo, Apple and Barnes and Noble to sell the digital editions of their books. Not content to exclusively buy into this model Harper Collins is now bucking the trend by selling eBooks directly to customers and launching a dedicated e-Reader app for Android and iOS.
Buying eBooks directly from the publisher will phase out the middleman and allow the company to tailor its own promotions to allow readers to capitalize on deals and season specific campaigns. Right now the service is only launching on two specific websites; Narnia.com and CSLewis.com.
Chantal Restivo-Alesi, chief digital officer at HarperCollins, said: “The publishing industry is undergoing a technological transformation unparalleled in our 200-year history. Launching a platform that allows HarperCollins to establish a direct to consumer marketing and sales proposition to expand some of its strongest brands to new audiences means we honour both our past and our present.”
The HaperCollins reading app is actually fairly solid in execution. You have to make an account with the company to actually do anything, but you can activate a trial model. There is a small sample book of Narnia, enough to give give you a sense on how the app works. I think overall it feels slick and polished. You can change the margins, text size, initiate night mode and control the animation of the page turns. There is also functionality to look words up in the dictionary, make highlights and annotations. It looks like a polished first offering, and this is mainly attributed to the company doing business with Bluefire Reader. The only downside in using the Android app, is that you can’t actually buy books with it. You have to make an account with HarperCollins, buy the books from the website and then sync them. Download the app today from the Good e-Reader Android App Store.
This is a big shift in publishing mentality to develop your own e-Commerce system, develop a reading app and sell books directly. This entire initiative seems to be a glorified test to see if readers will buy into it. I think in order for this strategy to succeed they have to go “all in.”
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.