Last month Little Pickle Press, a start-up children's book publisher based in California, asked me to contribute a post on a topic of my choosing. After a bit of digging, I decided to write about "Digital content for children: How publishers find their audience".
My work was made easier by the research that Bowker has been doing in this area (a presentation that captures the research can be downloaded here). Their data helped inform a core part of my post for Little Pickle:
"But across digital platforms, things like best-seller lists, online reviews and retailer recommendations are replacing the important role that in-store displays play for physical books. To maximize digital sales, publishers will need to cultivate both retailers and reviewers in ways no longer connected to shelf space."
I go on to say that cultivating communities can be an effective strategy in building an audience for digital (as well as physical) content.
In the interest of disclosure, I've been doing some work for Little Pickle Press over the past year or so. They didn't specify the topic for this post, but I chose it in part because (as a new entrant) Little Pickle has a distinct advantage in reaching audiences with digital-first and digital-only content.
This is a challenge for traditional publishers: it's hard to do both print and digital well, and it's impossible to stay with what you know and be confident that you'll survive in the long term. As they organize around communities, new entrants have an advantage here, one that scale doesn't necessarily mitigate.