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Slicing and dicing

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Targeting time-pressed business pros, publishers start to serve content in bite-size pieces Among the backdrop of blogs, tweets and microsites, a growing number of business publishers has started to slice and dice their book-length content into bite-size pieces that can be purchased for a small fee and downloaded online. The programs—which are being marketed through the publishers' Web sites; online distributors such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Sony Corp.; and social media—feature book content repackaged into digital snippets. In January and February, some of the top business publishers got into the act:
  • McGraw-Hill Professional introduced “Select: eChapter in an Instant,” a series of 750 chapters taken from the financial and business publisher's vast library of books. The chapters, which have been repurposed from McGraw-Hill's Professional Investing & Finance and Six Sigma Business Processes collections, are priced from $6.95 to $9.95.
  • FT Press, a unit of Pearson, launched FT Press Delivers, an electronic imprint, which is selling short pieces of business insights called “Elements” and “Shorts.” “Elements” focus on one idea relating to work and life based on content from existing FT Press books, while “Shorts” are original pieces that focus on business-oriented topics. “Elements” cost $1.99; “Shorts” are priced at $2.99.
  • Harvard Business Review Press introduced “Harvard Business Review Short Cuts,” which are available exclusively in Amazon's Kindle Store. “Short Cuts” are individual chapters and summaries from HBR Press books that are bunched into “30-minute reads” or “10-minute reads.” Each “read” is priced at $3.16. There are a total of 117 chapters derived from 10 different HBR Press books. Business topics run the gamut: strategy, leadership, innovation and management.
  • The scramble among media companies to sell repackaged book content at low rates plays into two trends that are fast converging: time-strapped business professionals looking for information on the fly and the proliferation of smartphones and mobile devices. Selling book content in short bursts was “inevitable,” said Laura Friedman, publisher of digital products and services at McGraw-Hill Professional. “There's a clear demand for getting books in multiple formats, and we need to give [customers] exactly what they need when they need it.” “Select” is being promoted by McGraw-Hill Professional's numerous e-book partners, including Amazon and ebooks.com, as well as library partners throughout the world, Friedman said. In addition, McGraw-Hill is plugging “Select” through e-mail marketing campaigns and messaging on McGraw-Hill Professional's LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. There also is a dedicated landing page for “Select” on McGraw-Hill Professional's Web site. “We're making the professional community aware that "Select' is available,” Friedman said. “The more flexibility you can offer customers, the better off you are.” Harvard Business Review Press is promoting “Short Cuts” with the tagline: “Getting up to speed just got speedier.” Joshua Macht, group publisher of Harvard Business Review Group, said, “We see [professionals] not having enough time but wanting to be able to learn about business ideas as quickly as possible.” Macht said HBR Press' sales reps see “huge potential” for “Short Cuts.” “It's early days, and there are still some things we need to figure out, but we expect to continue to grow the program,” he said. FT Press Delivers now has about 300 articles in its “Elements” and “Shorts” portfolio and expects to have 500 available by the end of this year, said Amy Neidlinger, associate publisher of FT Press. “There are a lot of different ways to package your assets,” she said. “One customer may be interested in a $24.99 book from the shelf, but the same customer may also want the same content electronically in a shorter, concise format.” M
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