Harper Studio – an internet native publisher

Eoin Purcell

Search keywords are funny indicators
For a while now, (about nine months) I’ve been following HarperStudio. I’ve mentioned them once or twice before and oddly enough people typing in the keyword harperstudio have been driving traffic to the blog pretty much since they started up. They are a new-ish imprint of HarperCollins in the US and their goal is:

partnering with authors to publish books in a way that is effective, creative, and sustainable. We believe books are a vital part of our culture. We believe traditional publishing models are broken and are experimenting with new ones. We believe in embracing technology. We believe the future is now.

It’s the way they do it
It is a pretty ambitious goal. But they are approaching it in a pretty innovative way. I’ve been somewhat harsh on two of Harper’s web projects, Authonomy and the Voyager so its nice to be able to talk about an imprint that has really and truly harnessed the web as a tool. Start by looking at their team all of whom (with the exception of Robert Miller) have their Twitter identities open to all on the TEAM page!

Their blog is very active and features, polls, videos and links. They’ve openly discussed everything about our industry from returns, the failings of publishers and booksellers, to e-books and bundling of paper books and e-books. This is certainly not a corporate voice blog, that much is clear.

It works ya know
And it is the key thing about it, that it is personal and alive with what seems to be the authentic personality of the team. Much as this works for the wonderful Snowbooks, it works for Harper Studio. Not that, I’m sure, it has hurt to have gotten some great mainstream media attention too.

And goddamn it but the thing is, it works. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard reference to their first book, Who Is Mark Twain. Not just online either, but on radio at least once and in print twice (and that’s Irish/UK media). Which is a pretty impressive result.

And yes, they have blogged quite a bit about this book, and why shouldn’t they. It has a lot to offer and if they keep the list compact they can do that for every book.

Is there a bad news story?
If I have one concern it would be that the list is so disparate and lacking focus that they may well fail to keep the community they have built up around their blog as the breadth of their content expands. If they have no core topic to hold their audience it may widen but become shallower at the same time.

That’s not a big problem if they can keep the flow of content and engage with successive audiences for new titles as they come along. The issue mighty arise when they try to re-engage an audience they have already approached, seduced and then lost interest in as the book that audience was cultivated for was released and went through its life cycle. If they don’t continuously cultivate Twain fans for instance they will lose interest and move off. But when a new Twain focused book comes HarperStudio’s way can they re-engage?

Still, that is a problem of success and one I think many publishers would love to have. For now, good luck to HarperStudio, a publisher I think it is fair to say that seems to be the first to have been formed with a tightly integrated web strategy as part of its founding ideology. That’s no mean feat.

2 thoughts on “Harper Studio – an internet native publisher

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.