Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New Domain Names for Book Marketers

As an author you wonder what you should name your Web site.  Many opt for their name or the title of their book.  Some do both. Others try to use a keyword that is friendly to their subject matter (i.e.: dogbookexpert.com).   Others pick a name that seemingly doesn’t mean anything but sound memorable (i.e.: google.com). Some may try to play on famous phrases and twist it slightly to reflect their subject  (i.e.: anappleadayandmybookkeepsthedoctoraway.com).  Some like putting the letter “i” in front of the URL (i.e.: idogbookexpert.com). Well, the last one may be too long, but you get the idea.  But what if the rules governing web site addresses changes?

Well, it is.

Starting, January 12, 2012, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the group that governs Internet domain names, will begin accepting applications for new domains.  This means we will start to see URLs that go beyond the common .com .org .info, etc.  It also means more variety in the marketplace and more money being spent to win the Web branding real estate sweepstakes.

A number of dot-com millionaires made their money by cyber-squatting.  They would buy up scores of domain addresses – sometimes thousands – and resell them to others for big bucks.  Some names sound so authoritative and memorable that some companies just had to have them.  But in some cases people had their names hijacked.  Imagine having to buy back a web site address with your own name?

One of the new changes offered by ICANN is to allow some corporations to have their own suffix.  We might soon see .apple and .starbucks.  But not every organization, person, or company will get their own dot.  The application costs $185,000 and the form is 360 pages long.  It looks like the Internet will become more commercial as a result. Further, there will be a wider gap between who has access to things like certain domain names.

According to today’s Wall Street Journal, there were some 211 million Web site addresses in use around the world, as of April. Nearly half of these were .com sites. But there could be an explosion of new site suffixes and Web addresses that will transform how information is searched for online.

So what might this mean for the book industry and book marketing?

The online universe keeps expanding, much like our physical universe. There will be more domain names than there are people.  It’s estimated there are a trillion web pages in existence right now The search engines will have plenty of new addresses to input and track soon. GoDaddy must be excited at the prospect of selling more domain names.

The domain name game may not mean too much for book publishing.  The only ones who could afford a suffix with its company name will be the major publishers and retailers, such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Random House, Harper Collins, etc.  This will certainly help further their brand recognition, though many publishers still don’t fully use their names to sell as many books as they can.

Many publishers push book sales to go to Amazon, bn.com or to Borders and wherever books are sold. But publishers will one day realize they need to take on more retail functions.  We may see Simon and Schuster open their own store one day.  Or Wiley & Sons may start processing ebook orders directly on their site without referring customers to a retailer. Apple will probably publish books for sale on its ipad.

So we might start seeing a whole bunch of new web site addresses but the strategies used to promote a site still remain the same.  But if you did have $185,000 to spare, what kind of URL would you chose?

Maybe, we’ll see a new trend, such as people using inverted site names.  Instead of book.com we’ll have koob.com.  It’ll be all the rage to do your name in reverse. That alone could double the domain names out there.

Actually, if the suffix .book, .publishing, and the like come to be, you will see a lot of authors and publishers flock to that suffix. Our society will become more segmented. We’ll come to see a certain suffix as the place to look for something on that topic. This could also lead to duplication and confusion, as people won’t abandon their old sites out they will add on a new one.

But before you get caught up in domain names, continue to do the core basics, including writing a really good book and promoting the heck out of it.  Don’t get caught up in the things that seem interesting but don’t really yield sales.  Otherwise you’ll be registering for a name like www.canyouloanmemoney.book.

 ***Brian Feinblum can be reached at brianfeinblum@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @thePRexpert.

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