Digital Comps, the hands-free way to manage requests for complimentary copies

Disarmingly simple reading copy service for publishers

Digital Comps for textbook adoptions
Drive textbook adoptions with Digital Comps

Digital Comps is a very simple service that lets book publishers send (and track) secure complimentary copies of their ebooks to instructors, reviewers and booksellers.

Some of the world’s biggest publishers use Digital Comps, with outstanding results. No matter how extensive or simple your web presence, if you already offer your books through eBooks.com, you can be up and running in minutes.

  • Secure, DRM-protected distribution
  • No hidden costs
  • No setup fees
  • No maintenance fees
  • No DRM fees
  • No charge for feature requests
  • Just a weenie little transaction fee
  • No lock-in: cancel at a moment’s notice
  • Ready to use now
  • No project risk
  • Road test it: request a free trial 

It’s a sophisticated, enterprise-level platform, and we charge just $2 or $3 per item.

Digital Comps operates like your own system. It has your own brand, colours, messaging and logo everywhere. And you’re not sharing a user-facing platform with hundreds of other publishers. It’s your own site.

No extra effort is required from your production workflow. As an eBooks.com supplier, you already have log-in credentials to our Publisher Interface for managing your inventory, and an FTP account where you already send ebook files and metadata.

In fact, uploading content for Digital Comps is simpler because the system requires minimal metadata. If you want to send out a bunch of proofs, securely, very early in the cycle, you can do so without having to supply each last bit of metadata to us. All that extra metadata can come later, when the book is about to launch.

e-inspection copies that inspire, and expire

You can decide whether whether the comps you send will be accessible forever or if they expire after a period (set by you), and you can also do this on a customer-by-customer basis.

So, for example, you can make it so that the digital comps you distribute will expire (can no longer be redeemed) after the book’s on-sale date. This is in your hands.

Push and pull

There are two broad ways to use this system: e-requests and promotions. You can enable visitors to your site to request a copy of the books in your inventory (e-requests), or you can prospectively send out a bunch of vouchers to a targeted audience (promotions).

1.  e-Requests

Request exam copy
Here’s how Stanford University Press displays the option to request a digital reading copy

Add a little link to each of your books’ product pages: “Request ebook exam copy”. Here’s how Stanford University Press does it:

When an instructor clicks on that link, they are able to request an exam copy of the ebook. You’ll receive a notification and the simple option to approve or decline the request.

The request system looks after everything. For example, if a user is known to you, you can tag them “unmediated”, meaning they can automatically get an exam copy next time (within certain parameters) without having to wait for your approval.

There are lots of other bells and even more whistles. It’s a very responsive, automated, intelligent system.

2.  Promotions

You can distribute vouchers prospectively to marketing staff, instructors, booksellers, reviewers – anyone. And then you can see the effects. Did they actually read the books?

And you only pay for actual usage. If you send out 500 vouchers in a promotion but only 50 are redeemed, you only pay for those 50.

An interesting promotional tweak: viral vouchers

One feature that’s proved very popular is “viral vouchers”. The idea here is that, rather than creating a batch of unique codes to send out to prospects, you can generate a single hyperlink and post it on your blog, newsletter or twitter feed, for anyone to use. You control the period of the promotion (maybe it expires after 30 days) and the maximum number of redemptions allowed (after which the promo ends). Viral vouchers are a great way to create some buzz about a new release.

“Being able to pre-program a voucher for a blind giveaway via social media or over the web is a huge deal. No one else seems to offer anything close.”
Alan Harvey, Director, Stanford University Press

Useful, quite detailed reports

The Digital Comps platform includes a useful admin portal that enables you to manage users, send out promotions, etc., and it includes usage statistics that can be downloaded as Excel files.

You can track the progress of promotions and see details of usage. The reports show how many times a promotion was redeemed, and how many times those individual users either downloaded the ebook or read it online.

Development roadmap: what’s next

The platform is improving all the time, with an exciting development program informed by suggestions from publishers and users.

Tactical nudging

The Digital Comps platform will soon include a set of tools that you can use to nudge recipients towards adopting your course textbook or publishing a review. When the recipient opens their ebook, the system will wait a polite interval (set by you) and then send the instructor a message (written by you) asking how things went. Did they publish a review? Adopt the text? And so on.

If the recipient doesn’t access the ebook within a certain time (set by you), then the system will send different follow-up messages (written by you) nudging them to do so.

Calibrating access controls

We’re working to make it so you don’t have to manually approve every request for a comp copy.

The current default setting for DCs is “Mostly mediated”. This means that, whenever a new user requests a comp, someone at your end will approve or decline the request. You’re able at that point to apply a flag to that user:

“Unmediated” means that you’re happy with that user’s bona fides and they can access inspection copies in future without delay.

“Blocked” means you think the user is abusing the system or a waste of time, and future requests will be automatically declined.

Or you can leave the user as “Mediated” and watch their behaviour in future.

Over time, a growing number of requesters will be flagged as “unmediated” and will be processed straight through.

Now we’re looking to adapt the Digital Comps platform to include more automation and filtering options, to reduce the burden of scrutinising incoming requests for comps.

Much depends on your risk tolerance.

Digital-Comps-Slider
Mediation slider. This is where the current DCs platform sits. We’re working to give publishers more control over the risk-effort profile

 

Door wide open

Would you prefer we made it so that anyone who requests a comp just gets it, without scrutiny — no filters at all? That would be very simple. The system includes usage reports which you could check periodically to check for abuse. Perhaps that’s all you would need?

Filtering

Maybe you would like to push the setting closer to the unmediated end of the scale, but not all the way.

To arrive at that middle ground between unmediated and mostly mediated, we can make it so that certain behaviour or attributes on the part of the requester will flag them as good guys, or force mediation.

Positive traits

As an example, we might make it so that anyone who gives an email address that ends in “.edu”, “.ac.uk”, etc gets instant access. Are there any things like this that would make it OK to just wave a new user through?

Negative traits

Conversely, there are some detectable behaviours and attributes that tell us that a user is hiding their online identity, and this often equates to dodgy intent. We might force those users to wait for mediation. Can you think of something else that might trigger a red flag and force mediation?

Not fish, not foul

For the remainder of newcomers, should they be, by default, unmediated or mediated?

Test drive digital comps

If you’d like to experience how easy and effective Digital Comps can be, just ask for a free, no-obligation trial.


This post was last updated on 26 November 2018

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