HarperCollins is in the midst of a total rebranding effort when it comes to selling books. In July they relaunched their United States website and started to market eBooks directly to customers. This has been a deemed a success by the top executives and they have now expanded into the UK.
The New HarperCollins UK site has been relaunched with the express purpose of selling eBooks directly. The publisher prompts users to download and install their HC Reader app, which is used to read any purchases on iOS and Android.
HC derives 24% of their revenue from eBooks, so there is still a viable market for print. You can order tangible books from the UK website, but instead of buying them from HC directly you are redirected to Amazon, Waterstones and W H Smith. The publisher hopes to make physical books available directly through the site in December.
One of the most compelling aspect of the HC UK website is author profiles. You can read their biography, check out their social media profiles, get put on a mailing list for book tours and events or look at their upcoming titles.
HarperCollins is no stranger to selling eBooks in the UK, having prior experience with CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and their Narnia website. These niche microsites did not generate many sales, but it did establish an in-house division for the future of selling eBooks directly.
Publishers reliance on Amazon, as a primarily vechie to sell eBooks, is forcing them to embrace alternative sales channels. Amazon currently has too much power in mandating terms during contract renewals, as we see from the current Hachette dispute. Whether customers buy directly from the publisher, instead of Amazon, Kobo, iBooks or Nook remains to be seen.
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.