The Taunton Press Talks Content Optimization At Act 4
"We can't afford to pay for content if it's going to be a one-time use," said Jay Annis, VP of The Taunton Press, at the Act 4 Publishing Event at the Magazine Innovation Center at Ole Miss.
We were gathered to hear the ideas of the best and brightest of publishing professionals in a three-day workshop put together by Mr. Magazine himself, Samir Husni. Annis was there to articulate Taunton's proactive approach to content in a time when the costs and monetization of content are proving challenging to many publishers. Taunton's solution: To optimize the content through all the products that will serve its audience.
It's a long and fascinating trail of content, starting with magazines like Fine Homebuilding and Fine Cooking, produced and sold on a regular frequency. From that content then might come single-topic Special Interest Publications (SIPs). The next step would be books, and then bookazines.
That's a lot, but it isn't the full range of Taunton's content optimization -- far from it. The publisher goes on to slice the content for more specific interests, publishing vertical topic booklets to sell in specialty accounts for $9.99.
And this is before you even make the swing from print to digital. Would a subscriber who reads each and every issue printed in a year be willing to spend almost $100 for a year's worth of content on DVD-ROM? Taunton has discovered they will; the searchability by topic of the DVDs make sit valuable to the readers.
From there you can take the same content to create e-books for sale on the Kobo, Apple and Kindle newsstands. Discoverability is an issue on these newsstands, but Taunton is there. Better than any of those newsstands, however, are the PDFs sold directly from the website.
The next step of content use might be Taunton's E-Selects, a model similar to Amazon's but project-based. For example, based on audience interest, an SIP on pruning might be further netted down to pruning fruit trees, or pruning bushes. These can be created as special interest articles sold for $2.99 to $4.99. Taunton might release 25 of these every 6 months.
Video content can be added to the mix in the form of DVDs sold through the website and packaged on print (books). And out-of-print content is in such demand that back issues are scalped on EBay for $250 per issue? For that, Taunton has added a print-on-demand option to the cornucopia of possibilities.
"The thing that makes it work," says Jay, "is that it's reader driven. Readers are the assets, and we have learned that if our readers want expert information, they will pay for it."
Taunton lets this mission inform its publishing decisions. The publisher keeps the advertising in the front and back of the publication, allowing nothing to interrupt the clean flow of editorial. They make a point of staying close to the readers, outsourcing no part of the process but the printing itself.
As a result, Jay says, Taunton has survived better than anyone. Renewal rates are 65-75%.
The message is to remember the reader. If the reader is first, the rest falls into place.
Linda Ruth, as president of PSCS Consulting (www.PSCSConsulting.com), offers communication companies worldwide the keys to magazine launches, search engine optimization and audience development online and at retail. She is a pioneer in the fields of Online Audience Optimization (OAO) and gamification for content publishers. Her books, "Internet Marketing for Magazine Publishers" ; "How to Market your Newsstand Magazine"; and "Secrets of SEO for Publishers" can be found on Amazon. Find her online at Google Plus, Magazine Dojo, LinkedIn, and Twitter @Linda_Ruth.