netGalley is attempting to solve an intractable issue for publishers: How to ensure that your review copies get into the hands of the right reviewers, at the right time and at the lowest possible cost. In addition, tracking these reviews becomes an increasing problem as reviews publishing rapidly expands beyond traditional newspaper and trade magazines. netGalley is an innovative technology services company located in Seattle and staffed with people committed to improving the way publishing operates. For publishers, netGalley helps publicity and editorial and marketing staff reach a wider range of review publications and media and provides up-to-date status of reviews. For reviewers, netGalley helps to manage the inflow of titles and internally manage the review process. There is no cost for individual reviewers to register for the service.
I asked Michael Forney, President of Rosetta Solutions which is the corporate owner of netGalley my five questions.
- Who is Rosetta Solutions and where does netGalley fit in the organization?
Rosetta Solutions, Inc. (Rosetta) is a publishing technology company full of people who love books. All of Rosetta's products and services have been designed and built with extensive collaboration from publishers and media organizations. Our goal is to streamline and automate publishing workflows to help grow the industry. We do that by providing tools and services for both print and digital editions, including production, conversion and distribution.
Rosetta’s netGalley™ is an online service that helps publishers better connect with their book reviewer and media communities through electronic distribution and tracking of ARCs, galleys and press materials. Through netGalley, publishers can simplify existing processes with premier review and media contacts and broaden their reach to online reviewers, bloggers and specialty publications, all while significantly diminishing the cost of printed review copies and press materials.
- How did the netGalley product evolve?
At netGalley, we are fascinated by how the internet continues to help connect smaller and more specialized groups of people who benefit from shared information. Books have long been sold through word-of-mouth, with traditional reviews being the most influential recommendation tool. What we wanted to accomplish with netGalley was to bring to bear the networking power and digitization of the internet on the book review process. We keep asking, “How can we make the existing process more efficient and less expensive? How can we mine the process for more information that will enable better decision-making? And last, how can we help connect the exponential number of new media outlets with new galleys at THE lowest possible cost?” We are grateful to have had the input and counsel of the some of the biggest and most successful publishers and media groups to help us shape the functionality of netGalley. Good listeners make good leaders.
- You describe yourselves as a services company in this context what are the solutions that netGalley can provide? Is netGalley a discrete product or tool or do you see it as part of a platform or suite of products?
When we first began with netGalley we saw the immediate benefits of better connecting review organizations with publishers to streamline the back-and-forth communication that characterizes this process. What we then began to see by talking to publishers is how netGalley can equally be applied to the larger publicity process by providing media with a central location to access a broad range of ancillary material about a title. We began to see how netGalley can benefit a range of constituents, directly (in the publishing house or media organizations) or indirectly (for example providing better information and services to authors). So, absolutely, we see netGalley as a platform providing a continuum of services.
- You are currently working with a number of publishers on the netGalley launch. What have been some of the issues you have faced as you have designed and built this product?
Probably the biggest challenge for us has been straddling the current reliance on printed materials with the gradual evolution toward digital media. We recognize that publishers and media will continue to rely primarily on printed galleys for some time. At the same time we can be evangelists for digital content, particularly by making it easy and secure to distribute within a given professional community. To be clear, netGalley does not require the distribution of digital galleys and facilitates the distribution of physical galleys. Yet many publishers have indicated that they can use digital galleys to supplement their physical galleys, especially to the online media and blogger communities.
Have you faced particular issues in convincing publishers of the ROI involved in implementing at productivity tool like netGalley?
The publishers and media organizations we have talked with all agree that there is a great deal of opaqueness in the current communication media and review processes. There is equally a sense that it is difficult to understand the true costs of reviews or media coverage. When you pair that difficulty with the explosiveness of new sites covering and reviewing books…it seems reasonable to want to automate and capture more information in this area.
The distribution of marketing materials and the breadth of potential reviewers are growing rapidly. None too recently, a publisher had a fairly static list of people they needed to send ARC’s to have you heard from publishers that this is becoming an unmanageable task unless fundamental changes are made?
We haven’t met a publisher yet who has noted the diminishing importance of The New York Times in selling books. We haven’t met one who says that their list of daily tasks is shrinking. The traditional media outlets will continue to have enormous impact on the books purchased by the reading public. The publicists’ day will get fuller and fuller.
I think the challenge for publishers is partially in verifying the influence of potential new media sources. We see a lot of heads nod when we talk about automating and consolidating communications online, about bringing together potential reviewers/media who might find you as much as you find them, about cutting down the number of manual tasks particularly around formats and files.
What kinds of improvements would you anticipate in a typical installation of the netGalley product?
First I would ask, improvements for whom? Review organizations for example are going to see enormous benefits in terms of improving their internal workflow and minimizing redistribution costs to off site reviewers. Media organizations will see improvements in time efficiencies and task management. Publishers can anticipate lower direct costs of producing and distributing physical galleys, replacement of manual processes, and a broadening of the publicity universe at lower cost.
- What is next for netGalley. Do you have a sense what your next development phase will be?
On the netGalley side, we have a development plan that extends through the next two years and includes new functionality in the existing application as well as services to new segments such as the library and educator markets. Our research indicates that many of the benefits of netGalley to review and media communities can be transferred to other book communities.
From the Rosetta perspective, we have a number of new products and services in development all surrounding the automation of publishing workflows and the consolidation of information derived from these processes. Watch this space for more!