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Benchmarking HarperCollins Approach to E-Book Sales
Research Compiled for The Paper Store Enterprises Inc.
By Jeannie MacAdams Caldwell, April, 2006
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Harrison-Keyes has met only with significant problems in developing a sales model centered on electronic formats. It now seeks to benchmark another publishing company; HarperCollins is the company selected.
HarperCollins is a large, well-known publisher that does not lead its industry. That distinction is held by Random House, the worlds largest trade publisher (Lowry, 2005). Random House is approaching digitalization of books as would be expected of the largest organization; HarperCollins has taken an approach much more in keeping with the needs and size of Harrison-Keyes.
As is the case in all of traditional publishing, mainstream publishers still are unclear of how to handle the advent of electronic publishing. HarperCollins appears to have devised an appropriate approach that serves the company well in the present without limiting its options in the future.
Best Practice or Process
HarperCollins has recognized that its core business is publishing and chooses to remain in that core business. Almost by default this decision leads it to seek out other organizations whose core business is selling published works. The company highlights all of its current titles at its website and provides a variety of methods by which site visitors can purchase a book after reading its description and possibly a review or two. Selecting the “e-book” format option takes the visitor to another page at the site, one containing a number of hyperlinks to the sites of various online retailers. For John Grogans Marley & Me, one wishing to purchase the book in electronic format can select from one of these online retailers:
Barnes & Noble
Books on the Square
Boulder Book Store
Harvard Book Store
Other choices HarperCollins offers for e-book purchase include a find feature listing these choices:
“Another online retailer
“An E-Book Retailer
“A specialty bookstore
“A bookstore in the United States
“A bookstore internationally” (Buy the Book, n.d.)
Most of the risk of the HarperCollins approach lies in producing an acceptable electronic format and then delivering it on demand to its retailers. If there are any risks associated with actual sales in the manner HarperCollins approaches them, those risks are minimal. If one retailers site fails to function, then the HarperCollins site visitor can simply choose another. No retailer can accuse the publisher of favoritism because they are all listed at the site and listed alphabetically. Selection of the specific retailer is left exclusively to the individual retail customer. HarperCollins