For this episode, we’re doing something a little different: offering you a sneak peek behind the scenes here at Kobo to share some insights from several teams that play a key role in getting eBooks from authors and publishers to readers. US Manager Christine Munroe spoke to five of our colleagues:
Chris, KWL Development
- “Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for our users to publish their content, and then after that do as much as possible to drive the success of those published titles.”
- How does the development team manage to wrangle the seemingly never-ending list of features and ideas the KWL team want to implement? He has to balance new projects with maintaining and testing the current platform, and evaluating the necessity and value of each new idea.
- With each new to-do item, Chris collaborates with the rest of the broad Kobo team to make sure we can support these changes from a data and software perspective.
Sarah, Content Analytics
- Why and how you should measure the halo effect of promotions and price changes.
- Learning what prices sell well in different countries – certain geos are more price-sensitive than others, and you can adjust your territory pricing accordingly. For example, US and UK shoppers are used to paying less for eBooks, while readers in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada are more willing to pay more.
Ben, QA & Content Display
- Ben’s main responsibility involves seeing content coming in and deciding whether or not it’s ready to go for sale to customers. When the answer is no, his team works to problem solve, find bugs, and support fixes.
- Common errors found during the QA process: all content lumped in chapter 1; mismatched file uploaded for the title (ex Book 2 in a series instead of Book 1); missing or out of order chapters; low image quality.
- Ben’s favourite QA lingo. Aren’t you dying to know what an obfuscated font is?
Patricia, Publisher Operations
- The detective work of PubOps, who are always working to answer a question from a publisher, another internal team, or retail partner. Why hasn’t a price changed? Why isn’t a book for sale? Why has this eBook failed QA testing?
- Why Patricia likes projects that involve launching in a new territory – a large cross-functional team basically gets to recreate Kobo, and rebuild the catalogue, in a short period of time.
Jared, Big Data
- Reading data that Kobo collects and analyzes. How we’re currently using it for our readers – to show them patterns in how they read, when they read, and help them set reading goals.
- How we hope to share it with authors and publishers to help improve content and sales.
Do you have a question about what it takes to run a digital retail company that we didn’t answer here? Share it in the comments!
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I just enjoyed the podcast of the Kobo folks talking about their different jobs. Great behind-the-scenes stuff. The prices of e-books in the different geos was useful to me as an author. Thanks for putting it together.
I cannot sell anything on Kobo – it’s as dead as a dodo. And it’s not for the want of advertising on my part through all sorts of means I can afford. But it would be nice if authors could advertise on the Kobo site directly – where readers are browsing in the various genres. As far as I know, you don’t have such a facility? Readers will never find me if they never see my books. Any solutions, dear Kobo?
Hi Malla, looking at your titles on Kobo it seems that they’re coming through Smashwords. We’re testing a lot of promotional opportunities for Kobo Writing Life users at the moment and hope to continue expanding this. You would, however, need to publish with us directly to avail of these.
Loved the podcast. Fun! I’ve been posting some Kobo only tweets and FB posts. I always put Kobo buy links in my newsletters. I think I’m building an audience little by little. I have one trilogy that’s #139 on Kobo right now. Love that! Next step for me is to do a Kobo only release for a larger box set.
I loved listening to this episode. It was really great to learn about the inner workings of Kobo. It sounds like a really fun company to work for! 🙂