Just a few days ago we announced that the two largest online booksellers in Sweden, Adlibris and Bokus, have launched Twingly Blogstream on their sites to show blog links. But another renowned company within the Swedish book industry made such a step already two year’s ago: Norstedts, Sweden’s oldest publishing house founded in 1823. The company runs both norstedts.se as well as rabensjogren.se (the country’s leading publisher of children’s books) and is putting a lot of emphasis on integration with social media channels.
Norstedts recently relaunched its websites and now more than ever highlights incoming blog posts. We spoke to Klas Fjärstedt who is the one in charge of Norstedts’ and Rabén & Sjögren’s digital media about this move.
You recently relaunched your site and put blog reviews about your books into an even bigger spotlight. Tell us about the thoughts behind that decision.
The Swedish blogs dealing with books are usually of very high quality. Linking directly from our sites to those bloggers reviewing our books can be seen as a clear sign of how much we appreciate and value the “bookosphere”, which is gaining importance. We want bloggers to know that if they refer to one of our books they’ll be visible on our main homepage, regardless of what they write, regardless of whether they praise or criticize a book. We think this kind of openess and transparency is important. We don’t select manually which blog posts will be visible.
The book industry is driven by new content. Older books vanish quickly from the spotlight. The books on our homepage usually are the latest releases. However, bloggers write about both current and older publications. It’s fun to see some older release appear back on our homepage simply because someone blogged about it. Bloggers are kind of in controll about a part of our site, which I think is exciting.
I also want to emphasize that we have been using the Twingly integration since 2009. As far as I know there is no other book publisher yet that has done this ste, and it’s only now that online booksellers seem to wake up. I think there is a lot of inspiration to gain from visiting our sites, and we are proud to be cutting edge.
Any other improvements on your site you find especially noteworthy?
The key criteria for our relaunch was added value, simplicity and openess. Those attributes are the foundation for what we do on the web, and there is a lot Twingly can give us in order to accomplish our goals. We also reworked out design, everything looks much clearer now. On rabensjogren.se we built new templates in order to present the children’s books’ characters in a more vivid way, like here. On norstedts.se we have new templates to present book series, e.g. here.
What’s the impact of social media on the book business?
It’s huge. There is a lot of online conversation about books, and our goal is to participate in that. We want to make it as easy as possible to blog about our releases, to bring our content to other sites (by offering a HTML code for embedding book covers) and to share it via Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels. We know that a recommendation by a blogger for a book has a lot of impact on the purchase decision – often it has more weight and a higher conversion rate than advertising. Bloggers invest a lot of time to review our books and most of them are quite ambitious, thus there is a big benefit for our customers to read those postings.
Can you compare the “bookosphere” to the fashion blogosphere?
I’m under the impression that in Sweden books and fashion are the two most popular topics people blog about. They want to express their opinions and feelings about books!
These are exciting times, even books are going digital. What are your thougths on the future of books, and which ways do you see to bring the traditional book and the digital world together?
Fictional publications will move towards e-books. We already publish many of our releases digitally. Regarding children’s books we see an interesting trend towards applications, creating interactive versions of book content. The most exciting shift right now actually happens within children’s literature.
Do you personally read blogs? Which ones are your favourites?
Yes I do, and my main source for recommendations are the people I follow on Twitter. Twitter is a fantastic knowledge channel!