Marketing, Metadata … and Meeting Face to Face
Selling books takes technology and a human touch
As the fall term winds down for our parent institutions, university presses are gearing up for the spring and summer sales seasons. Twice yearly we produce a seasonal catalogue and present our books to a variety of sales teams who then present them to the world. Some of that process hasn’t changed since the early days: sales reps still call on bookstores with print catalogues in hand, and they sit with the buyer to figure out the best titles for that particular store. Increasingly, however, books are purchased by some sort of algorithm, a confluence of metadata (what we put out and what the customer is looking for). Search engines recommend books based on the last book read, mining the metadata for similarities. This means that every book record we create must contain what we call “rich metadata,” which includes lists of keywords, images from inside the book, excerpts, table of contents, and so on. This makes our books discoverable on search engines and wide distribution of this metadata means our titles can be found and purchased worldwide.
As important as this is, it doesn’t replace having a good team in place to facilitate the process, and meeting with our sales reps is one of the most rewarding things we do each season. Last week I flew down to Berkeley to sit with our reps at Ingram Publisher Services. We spent the day going over best practices and brainstorming where our strengths were, and where we can do better. It was truly energizing to spend the day with like-minded people who care about our industry and put a personal touch on the sometimes very impersonal world of metadata and algorithms.