The third section of Book: A Futurist's Manifesto includes a contribution from Peter Collingridge, the co-founder of Enhanced Editions and the managing director of Apt Studio. His chapter, "The surprising power of little data", describes a set of case studies that Enhanced Editions developed to help book publishers better market books.
Enhanced Editions got into the "little data" business after the founders realized that their launch model, responsible for the well-received multimedia eBook, The Death of Bunny Munro (Nick Cave), "didn't solve a burning problem for our customers." An analysis of the data available to them confirmed "that connecting digital products to their target audiences required a whole new set of capabilities that publishers simply don’t have."
To develop those capabilities, Enhanced Editions created Bookseer:
"Bookseer currently captures the “little data” that are a by-product of other activities. The real-time data “exhaust” of the Web, combined with details of promotional activities provided by the publisher, lets Bookseer build a systematic picture of the variations in performance across thousands of titles …"
"We collect this data in a variety of ways, and we do it all in real-time. As long as we can identify significant events—media coverage, a tweet, a price change, a review—at a specific moment in time, we can measure the effect of that event on sales. In doing this, we can clearly show the individual activities that are directly influencing sales, and of course, the ones that are not."
In the chapter, Collingridge decribes how publishers can benefit in the short term by optimizing marketing tactics at the level of an individual book campaign. In the medium- to long-term, the experiences of these early tests can feed into an increasingly robust database. Data-mined, that repository can help publishers identify critical variables and predict likely success of new projects.
Between the time that the book was finished and its first full version was published, Collingridge joined Safari Books Online, becoming its vice president of product development. Bookseer lives on, with Collingridge taking an understandably less active role in its development and marketing. The problem of connecting digital products to their target audiences … that's still out there.
About Manifesto: You can now read Collingridge's chapter online, where it is hosted on the PressBooks site. The complete book can also be purchased in print, digital and bundled formats through O'Reilly Media and in print and digital formats at major book retailing sites. I've noted earlier that the royalties for the book are being used to fund the development of PressBooks, and for that reason I encourage you to consider buying the book.