FEATURE6 June 2013

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Ebooks are shaking up the publishing industry as MP3s did for music. Former EMI insight chief David Boyle tells Lucy Fisher how he’s helping HarperCollins get to grips with digital consumers.

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He’s only weeks into his new role as senior vice-president of insight at HarperCollins, the book publishing arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp empire, but already David Boyle is thinking big. He’s hard at work building an online dashboard where people from around the business can go to explore data about the distinct types of readers that make up HarperCollins’ customer base.

“It’s about the books market widely but it’s also about implications for individual authors, ” Boyle says. “We’ve picked 15 authors – a mix of household names and new and upcoming talent – and we’re tackling lots of issues at the same time. We’re thinking about the big issues around products and pricing.”

Pricing in particular has been something of a headache for HarperCollins in the recent past. It was one of five publishers accused last year of colluding with Apple in an ebook price-fixing conspiracy designed to limit Amazon’s market dominance. The charges were settled before going to court, ...