I ordered a book from Amazon today that I heard discussed on a recent podcast. I think this transaction is a good example of how challenging it can be to trace the influence different media can have on a purchasing decision.
The figure below describes the timeline for my purchase of the book American Born Chinese, a graphic novel published by First Second in September of 2006. The author Gene Luen Yang was interviewed for a radio broadcast of the series Asia Pacific Forum.
Forum is one of the the podcasts I subscribe to via iTunes. Eventually I purchased the book on the web via Amazon.
The following are the media involved in this simple transaction:
- The book itself (I eventually ordered the paperback).
- The initial radio broadcast of an interview with the author.
- The distribution via podcast of the recorded interview.
- My PC where, running iTunes, I downloaded the podcast of the interview.
- My iPod, where I transferred the interview from my PC.
- The web where I ordered the book (via Amazon).
- The US Mail, which is delivering the web-ordered book.
Here are a few observations:
- That’s quite a few media!
- I probably would never have heard about this book had I just been listening to the various book review podcasts I subscribe to.
- I listen to Asia Pacific Forum primarily for political and cultural insights, not for book reviews.
- In looking over the various podcasts I listen to on a regular basis, a fairly large proportion of them originate as radio broadcasts. I prefer the podcasts due to the ability to control listening times.
- I rarely listen to podcasts on my PC. I prefer to listen to podcasts either on my iPod or on a small MP3 “flash” player.
- I didn’t even consider trying one of my local bookstores for the book, even though I realize that sections devoted to “graphic novels” have improved significantly in recent years.
- It seems ironic that, after the confluence of all this electronic media, I’m getting a copy of a paper-based book sent to me via the U.S. mail!
If I were the publisher and interested in using the web and social media to increase the likelihood of purchases of my books, looking at the above list might give me pause. There’s no simple way to directly influence a purchasing decision given this complex a process.
At minimum, though, you can look at this transaction as an example of how to use new media (podcast, iPod) and old media (radio, US Mail) to sell old media (book)!
Copyright (c) 2007 by Dennis D. McDonald