There’s something about Mary, sorry, I mean ebooks

Hey guys. Just a quick one. I was talking to I guy I coach two days ago and we were discussing product ideas. Long story short, we were looking at the connation’s of the word “ebook” in a customers mind and we did a quick poll on one of the lists. By a large majority, the more seasoned buyers were very wary of the word when they saw it and associated it with sub par content, poor grammar, bad layouts etc, which I thought was very telling. Curious as I am, pedantic OCD IMer that I am:) I sent out a mail to a section of my list and explained prior to them that I was sending two test ads with dummy links, they couldn’t buy anything but could they let me know which ad they would have felt more pull and response too. The only, only diff between the two? I replaced every instance of the word “ebook” with “digital guide”, yes I know but it was an ad hoc test and I will consult my thesaurus later people:) BUT the ad with etc etc digital guide, the exact same copy in all other ways, in other words, got a higher response rate. I am a devotee of the physiological aspects of language, its one of my other obsessions but this simple change was very interesting. I shall test further and post again but food for thought there I’m sure you will agree.

the term “digital guide” does kind of make it more clear to the reader. when they see, “ebook” they might expect something more grammatically correct and such, like published books.

To me, eBook has no connotation other than the fact that it is in some type of electronic format.

Same here.

But it’s not like that for many people.

If, say, 10% don’t care too much for it (ESPECIALLY when reading ads), well, then…

If one was to think about it, no term needs to be used anyway.

When we ran our last 5-4-1 sale I suggested to our marketing guys that they stated that the sale apply to eBooks only and they baulked for the reasons that you suggest, Linda. I was stunned. To me, eBook has no connotation other than the fact that it is in some type of electronic format.

But I guess I’m wrong.

JenSheahan: Replace the “E” with an “I” and you’ll be sorted, everyone’ll think it’s trendy and awesome. :stuck_out_tongue:

AlexDawson, you make a fair point although but seemed to have missed what I was trying to say in that rant. I wasn’t clear…

I didn’t mention how good I think the iPod and iPhone are as products (I have and love both).
The iPod completely changed the face of portable music and the iPhone finally put the features everyone had been asking for in a phone into a wonderful package and so much better than any competition at the time. Both very impressive products and they deserve a lot of credit for them - I completely agree with you there and didn’t mean to imply otherwise.

Where I disagree with you is over the piracy issue. Piracy certainly appeared before iTunes (Napster started circa '99 and the iTunes Store didn’t open until 2003), but the iPod was launched in 2001. I wasn’t saying that iTunes fuelled piracy,far from it, I was saying that devices like the iPod fuelled piracy - it gave people a reason to have all their music as MP3s rather than on CD as before, and Napster/Kazaa were easier to get music from than any legitimate sources. I’m not saying iPods caused piracy, and I’m not saying piracy made people buy iPods, but they did have an effect on each other in a sort of feedback loop. In this way (and before the iTunes store), Apple had a negative impact on the music industry if any. It may have been a negligible effect, but it certainly was not positive.

Now the iTunes Store offered a legal way of obtaining music, and that was definitely a good thing - it was the first real digital competitor to piracy. But it was a long way from being the saviour of the music industry. Major label profits continue to tumble, and the “industry” as such is still finding its way to making money online. The industry isn’t saved - that was my point really.

On the DRM front, yes Jobs wrote his famous letter on removing DRM - but that was in 2007 and after competitors had already asked for the same thing and AmazonMP3 was on the horizon - he wasn’t leading the pack. If Apple didn’t want the DRM, then why did they not let any other store use their DRM for interoperability? Why would they not let any other mp3 player company play their DRMed files? The labels may well have wanted DRM, but Jobs was not against the idea - at least not until he was forced to be. If he was so against DRM, then why are the TV shows and films wrapped in DRM, and why is the eBook standard they are pushing DRM wrapped as well? Apple is far from innocent in pushing DRM.

What an interesting thread! I love debates like this.

I am one of the marketing “guys” who avoids use of the term ebook for the reasons mentioned here.

To me, an ebook can be anything from a 7 page guide to a 350 page encyclopedia. It is way too broad a term and doesn’t sound appealing at all.

Now we also have to incorporate PDF, MOBI, and EPUB formats.

I wish there was some way we could accurately describe the digital formats of our books here at SitePoint. Until then, I will keep using “Digital Bundle”.

I agree with what you’ve said, though I can’t help but think the reason piracy is so bad is because of the industry’s utter lack of willingness to move to a market people were demanding (digital media). The reason why TV shows and ebooks still have DRM is because the television networks and the MPAA (along with the majority of publishers) told Apple in so little words that if they didn’t “protect” the media like that (and bind it only to the devices which those industries approve) they would pull their stuff from the store - and that would ultimately leave iTunes damaged in terms of availability so their having to just stick with it. Heck, plenty of publishers still refuse to sell their ebooks without DRM (APress and Peachpit being two technology publishers who ironically don’t like the idea of no DRM) I know when Apple made the decision to kill DRM off the MP3 stores, a whole load of bands repealed their music from the store and forced Apple to remove them from sale. Don’t get me wrong, Apple aren’t totally innocent here but my blame sits entirely with the industry for doing everything possible to put people off buying legitimately. :slight_smile:

masm50, I think you give Apple far too little credit. I’m not an apple fanboy and I don’t even have a single product made by them but even I can see the scale to which they have changed the industry. Not only did they create two devices which totally revolutionised the way music is consumed (the iPod which pretty much blew over the competition in relation to digital media on the move and the iPhone which provided a multimedia device which most people would carry on their person all the time and could get the value of the music - ultimate convenience). As for the fact they were the first to get a store which not only managed to get licensing from all the “old, dated neolithic music organisations” and the TV studios (no small feat by any means) just ices the cake.

In regards to piracy, your claims are totally without any merit, piracy was already in existence LONG before the likes of iTunes (or have you not heard of Napster and the other P2P giants like KaZaa?) What Apple did was provide a legitimate method to BUY the digital music they wanted rather than have a situation where people HAD to buy the CD (because the only digital mediums that existed where the market seemed to want it was in pirated media). As for the DRM, that wasn’t through Apple’s choice, it was one of the conditions of the RIAA who were too stupid and scared to know what people wanted, so they forced the legitimate resellers to use degrading mechanisms to try and look after their stuff (just like they forced Microsoft et al). The time when DRM came off tracks (and I believe it’s true in iTunes now) was simply due to public demand for digital media overtook sales of actual CD’s and DVD’s thereby they were forced to lose the DRM or lose their sales to piracy.

The problem with DRM and the slowness of the old industries is entirely due to the moronic behaviour and blatant stupidity on behalf of the RIAA, MPAA and old school outlook on print / physical medium and their total lack of knowledge when it comes to what the consumer wants or what digital means. Apple were the first to push past all the BS and get a legitimate market, hardware people wanted and a store that could get public support behind it. Personally I think Apple deserve every bit of credit they’ve earned. Takes a lot of effort to convert a sociopathic organisation to see the wood from the trees. :slight_smile:

eBook is an old school term and I think people shy away from that just because of the fact that theres so much junk going on as far as info products are concern. I mean every Dick and Harry can produce one, make money and not worry about email complaints.

People give Apple way too much credit on the music industry front. Yes Apple were the first ones to offer a good and simple online digital music store that synced well with their iPods but that is about it.

The growth of the iPod fuelled a lot of piracy as people suddenly could carry endless amounts of music around with them and so no longer had to choose their favourite couple of CDs or tapes to take with them. After the success of the iPod - in order to support it they created a music store that offered music downloads that locked people into using their hardware with DRM that they made sure was not interoperable with other devices. This allowed them to effectively dominate the distribution of music online, and distribution is where the traditional music industry was dominant and made a lot of its money. They basically took over a large part of the profitable part of the music industry and kept the income.

I’m not saying they shouldn’t have done this - the music industry was moving far too slowly into the digital realm and it makes for a very good and profitable business, but they certainly have not saved anyone.

I agree they iPad (along with the Kindle and Nook) could do wonders for the magazine and newspaper publishers who can make use of its portability to replace physical subscriptions - but the non-interoperable DRM-ridden eBook formats are not going to help anyone apart from locking consumers to them.

Also, I think book publishers are yet to see the storm of piracy that will affect them just like it did the music industry with the iPod. As always, the DRM will have no discernible effect on piracy and just annoy legitimate consumers, and people will see that it is easier to pirate a digital book than even an mp3 - I see some depressingly bleak times for book publishers ahead.

I imagine that with the arrival of the Kindle/Nook/iPad and traditional publishers now offering their titles in digital format, the idea of an ebook will evolve and people will become less wary of it as just a term.

The reason for the term’s dilution towards describing low quality content and design was because for as long as I can remember all the eBooks I saw advertised were for get rich quick scams. That is no longer the case, so I’m guessing people’s perceptions will evolve with the terms broader use.

I think the iPad is going to be the saviour of print media, providing them with a portable semi-physical format they can work a subscription model around for their magazines / newspapers. It’s almost like Apple have managed to do what they did for the music industry, except this time for books and print materials. :slight_smile:

For the reasons you gave, I don’t use the term “e-book” either. In fact, I don’t use any kind of a term, even “book.”

shrugs shoulders For me, personally, I wouldn’t have even tested it. It’s just one of those things that does not need to be tested. (Like testing to see if squeeze pages are worth it.) Even if it was just, say, 20% of the people, there are just too many who do not care too much for that term. Period.

Yes, I have to agree that many people are rather wary of ebooks and what the “majority” think an ebook represents. I think that playing around with the wording and providing people with useful information will render best results anyway…

Before you make any solid decisions I think it would be worth the effort to do a “blind” study. That is, instead of giving both versions and asking them to compare, give different people one, and others the other.

The survey you did has some value, but IMHO it would be better if they didn’t know specifically what you were testing for.

Going to test this out empirically on my list this coming Tuesday as a blind test and ascertain which exact alternate works best. Keep you posted

It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. In a world where self-publishing is taking off (by people who have not much experience in presenting information for print) and where there’s no quality control, no guaranteed process of technical edits, verification and research of information, etc, the idea that people would be wary of ebook’s quality is the kind of response I would expect. There is a lot of great stuff out there but the sheer amount of junk leaves it entirely in the dark. :slight_smile:

I agree fully. I will be osting the results of my list test on Tuesday. Should be interesting to see which alternate words resonate most and get the highest click throughs

Hey. For those of you who were following my post the other day on ebooks and how the name has become fairly if not totally devalued in our industry, I conducted the following test on my list. The conditions and results are below.

I used a sample size of 5000 list members from my overall list of approx 50,000 subscribers. The test was blind, by that I mean it was an email pertaining to a new product of mine which when clicked through to revealed the purpose of the test and some secondary product information. The wording and all other variables were the same in all instances except the word ebook was replaced by the following alternates.

Resource guide, Strategy, Guide, Digital Guide, Blueprint.

CTRs from highest to lowest:

Resource Guide

  • Ebook
    Digital Guide

Note one mail also used ebook therefore six versions were sent out.

Few points

  1. We are testing on a larger size sample over six weeks

  2. This is far from conclusive, obviously.

I started this particular experiment out of curiously, my list being highly responsive to my mailings to begin with but any edge factor, as it were, that can increase ctr’s is imo well worth the time to look at. I found it interesting that the much maligned “ebook” term scored higher than “digital guide” i think that term is not yet in the mindset fully or possibly an oxymoron perhaps in this context. I welcome feedback or other suggestions for alternate names as I plan to hone this more. I know, get a life etc lol but its a job not a hobby. I welcome suggestions. Lin