Until recently, our conversations about e-books with publishing clients centered on conversion—on tools and workflows, competing standards, best practices, and retailer requirements, decisions around fixed layout v. reflow, opportunities for enhancement and interactivity, accessibility, and the reader experience.

This conversation persists, but conversion as a topic has moved from headline to sidebar. Today, the challenge with e-books (and with digital content in general) is discoverability. Convenience is a critical factor for online consumers, and publishers recognize the need to understand the way content is discovered by their readers, and the factors that can ease or impede that discovery.

Against a background of increasing choices and competition for attention, the challenge of discoverability is one of getting the right book in front of the right reader at the right time.

Many e-books are not as discoverable as they could be via the channels and devices that are most commonly accessed by readers. Clearly this is a missed opportunity for publishers and authors, who need to look at ways to curate content for it to be easily discovered.

Published statistics indicate that the majority of content buying now starts online, as consumers use search engines and independent channels such as Wikipedia, Flickr, and StumbleUpon as the starting point for their research. And consumption often ends online, too, as e-commerce sites push customers toward conversion. Search now exceeds offline family, friend, and peer recommendation as a source of information, and search combined with influences from social media are strongly impacting consumption patterns.

In this context, authors and their publishers can exploit different paths to discovery among their potential readers.

Chance discovery, for example, takes its inspiration from the way people have long discovered new books and new authors in bookstores, scanning and skimming through books on a shelf to find something that establishes a connection. Online, this browsing experience is replicated on aggregator and retailer platforms that allow readers to sample portions of a book before they buy. Publishers and authors can influence chance discovery by creating appropriate, targeted metadata and exposing meaningful sample content to search engines.

Social discovery, on the other hand, is informed by the online recommendations of trusted peers and friends. These recommendations happen across multiple social networks, and publishers and authors can use social media monitoring tools to follow trends in book purchasing behavior and join in the conversation.

Then we have contextual discovery, which happens when we create links between books and other online content. These need not be specific mentions of a book in a magazine article or resource list: thematic links can be created through the keywords and tagging that sit behind the web page.

There is also promoted discovery, which uses social or personalized models driven by data about online behavior to get content in front of readers. Promoted discovery allows publishers and authors to drive relevant traffic back to their site and to engage with their audience.

All these options can seem quite daunting, just as understanding the landscape of content conversion once seemed daunting. And this is where ePagemaker, the digital marketing arm of Newgen KnowledgeWorks comes in.

Newgen’s Discoverability platform brings the tools and techniques of search engine optimization and digital marketing to publishing to maximize the online presence of your books. The collaborative platform allows authors and publishers to co-create book microsites populated with metadata and content designed to bring the book to the top of potential readers’ search engine results. Its guided workflow means that you do not need technical expertise to set up a website or run a social media campaign. There is just an events calendar to keep track of marketing activities, and a dashboard to show their effectiveness.