Excellent exploration of the challenges of being a book publisher in the modern age:
Several months ago, we piloted a program to deliver digital course materials to students enrolled in a select group of medical test prep programs These students were evaluated at the end of their courses to determine how using digital course materials affected their learning experiences, as well as how they felt about using the materials. Actual usage data was also collected and compared. We learned that for the large majority of the time, these students were using the digital versions of their course materials as quick reference tools. The most used feature was search, favored over other features such as note taking, highlighting, bookmarking, sharing, and others. The context in which students used the products most often was the classroom. Not online, not on the bus, nor in the subway. They were listening to a lecture and were using these eBooks to quickly look up terms and formulas and reinforce the lecture in a context.This pilot program represented a real turning point for us. We were both surprised and excited about the data we collected, and also by the real insight we had gained into what our customers were doing, what their needs were, and what they wanted us to provide to them. While the data is different product to product, we did learn what to measure and how to listen.In the world of software application development, UX designers and researchers physically watch people using an application and determine information about them and their needs through observation. In the eBook world, the ability to track usage data, feature adoption, and time spent with each product has meant that we have a whole new world open to us, and a new way of conceiving of and talking about our products and product development.Digital products have brought the customer back into the equation.