Powering more than 50 e-bookstores for publishers specializing in such subjects as fiction, academic, professional and romance has given Qbend COO Kaushik Sampath many unique insights on e-retailing. “More publishers are selling direct to their customer base, and looking at profiling their customers—what type of books are most popular with which demographic segment—using analytics derived from their e-bookstore. They are directly interacting with their store customers, and that is helping them to connect and foster loyalty, something that has thus far eluded them through other online retail channels,” says Sampath. In total, consumers who use e-bookstores powered by Qbend come from more than 75 countries and access contents offered in about 10 languages. Qbend also works with many digital-only publishers as well as several retailers to power their online presence. Wolters Kluwer, for instance, built an eChapters store on the Qbend platform to enhance its direct sales channel. “They made both e-books and e-chapters available, and we found that over 96% of the transactions on the e-bookstore occur at the chapter level. Interestingly, we did not hear of any reduction in their e-book or print book sales. So we deduce that these chapter-based transactions could not have happened if eChapters is not made available,” adds Sampath.

For Californa-based Untreed Reads, Qbend’s platform is used to power its digital sales where thousands of e-books are made available in ePUB, Kindle and PDF. According to Sampath, many of Untreed’s titles are priced under 99 cents, and for higher-priced books, they also provide a rental option at a lower price point. All their books are DRM-free, and Untreed also uses its e-bookstore as its online sales hub, providing links to Amazon and iTunes stores. “By bringing down the price points and making their own store competitive to Amazon on pricing, Untreed Reads has managed to attract and retain information about a lot of their customers, and this would further help them in providing more relevant, and timely, content,” says Sampath.

With more publishers starting to establish their online presence, Qbend has begun to offer digital marketing services for those wanting to expand their digital footprint. “We provide comprehensive search engine optimization [SEO] and directory submission services to increase visibility of our clients and their contents on the Internet. Title discoverability does not happen by itself, and we can do so much more to help our clients in this respect,” says Sampath, whose team will also launch MyCollect at the London Book Fair. The new feature allows users to put together their own custom publications, helping publishers generate more income from the same content.

With digital media, no book needs to go out of print (OOP), so many of Qbend’s publishers are digitizing OOP titles and adding them to their stores and using Qbend’s digital marketing services to reach the right target audience. “For instance,” Sampath notes, “we ran a special campaign during the first week of December to celebrate Walt Disney’s birthday, and in the last week of January to mark Lewis Carroll’s birthday. The level of interest shown by customers for Alice in Wonderland and many OOP Disney classics was a nice surprise to us and our clients.”

Other features, from self-publishing to e-lending, are coming from Qbend in the coming months. “The core focus of the eStore platform is to enable content owners to sell direct and build a community. Our focus is therefore expanding from traditional publishers to indie authors, and from retailers to corporations. We are aggressively expanding in the U.S. and Europe while getting a foothold in Asia as the market gears up for e-stores,” says Sampath, who will be talking about “Selling Direct to Customers and Building Your Community” on April 8 (10:00 a.m. at Tech Theatre 1) and on April 9 (12:30 p.m. at Tech Theatre 2). More information and demos can be obtained at Qbend booth W505.