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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Interview With Kim Anderson, CEO of TheReadingRoom.com.



What exactly is The Reading Room and who should be using it? TheReadingRoom.com is the best place online for avid readers to find, buy and discuss great books.  Its independent voice, respected reviews from the New York Times, The Guardian and TheReadingRoom.com’s thousands of passionate readers, coupled with hundreds of thousands of posts and comments, make it a unique and trusted place to discover new books and new authors. .  With more than seven million book records, 2,000 book clubs, and thousands of reviews, TheReadingRoom.com simplifies and personalizes the book selection process by providing readers with both social networking tools and curatorial expertise to help discover new titles.

TheReadingRoom.com functions as an independent bookseller but takes the relationship with members one step further than merely facilitating book browsing by also serving as a reliable and trusted digital source, with a range of online tools and community resources –  such as a reading diary, bookshelf to create a life log of your reading, and the ability to browse by genre, by like-minded readers’ bookshelves and by our carefully curated  booklists and features bookshelves.

By combining the power of social networking with carefully curated content, recommendations and featured selections, and the ability to buy eBooks and print titles, readers can now discover books in much the same way they have in the past: from people they know and trust.

Is this site something like Amazon meets GoodReads? No, because we are independent and do not allow self promotion on the site without it clearly being identified as an advertisement.  What we’re seeing is that independent and trusted sources of recommendations are becoming increasingly important for readers to find and discover books. Algorithms can play a part in this, but they cannot assess the qualitative differences between two books or two writers. In the end, it is respected reviews, critical analysis and  like-minded readers who share your reading tastes that can lead to one discovering books and authors hitherto undiscovered, as well as new and emerging authors.

How will the site be profitable? We are a bookseller and generate revenue from the sale of eBooks and print, and from advertising a little like the old co-op marketing fees of the past. We do not have a warehouse, so we keep our overhead to a minimum.  We are not capital intensive, and we are all passionate and dedicated.

What inspired its launching?  I've been in the business of media (print, electronic, online, TV and radio) all of my working life.  It’s my passion and I wanted to bring the benefits of technology to readers without removing the personal and passionate.

What do you do for them? What is your background? I am the Founder and Chief Executive of TheReadingRoom.com.  My career spans a wide range of media development, including book, magazine and newspaper publishing, online media, mobile and television, including digital and interactive formats.
Originally based in Sydney as Non-fiction Publisher for HarperCollins, I have worked for a variety of book publisher and newspaper proprietors, including John Fairfax and Sons, Prentice Hall, Grolier and Kevin Weldon and Associates. In 1993, I was posted to New York to set up a new media vision for HarperCollins worldwide, working closely with 20th Century Fox, News Electronic Data and other News Corp subsidiaries. In 1995, I returned and joined PBL to create ninemsn Video, Australia’s number one online portal (and a joint-venture with Microsoft). In 2000, I transferred to the Nine Network, where I was responsible for breaking new ground in interactive television formats, as well as ensuring the digital transition of Nine to the pay TV platform (Foxtel).  

In 2004, I joined Southern Star Entertainment, an International Televisions Production House as COO and, later, CEO.  I was also instrumental in creating the digital entity Southern Cross View to extend the regional network and production community to the online environment, creating Australia’s first talk back portal, Mytalk.com.au.

What do you enjoy about being a part of the book publishing industry? It’s been a part of my life since I was in my early teens.  It’s in my blood, and ultimately it is about one thing and one thing only - storytelling. It’s about the ability to live other lives and see things differently, to explore and discover other worlds, and new knowledge.  To be a part of that, in any form or at any stage, is exciting and fulfilling.  And to help these stories and storytellers reach new audiences and bigger audiences is both a challenge and hugely rewarding.

Where is the book world heading? It is always the "million dollar question“ and I don't think we know with any certainty where it will end up but the journey is all about opening up existing channels and creating new channels to market; finding new forms of storytelling, new formats, new approaches. The barriers to being published have been removed but this enhances publisher's ability to find better and better books, and it provides an opportunity to publish books that in the past may not have had a big enough audience to justify investment in printing, shipping and marketing. This is exciting for publishers and I think they are embracing it.
Publishers also have access to much more data about their readers and this will enable them to find audiences more effectively and to provide them with highly targeted offerings in a range of formats on a range of devices.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013

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