Sunday, 21 November 2010

Online publishing platforms - the numbers compared

This post focuses on the relative traffic, size and impact and reach of the different online publishing sites.   This is because many artists now like to be able to publish their artwork or sketches in books and some also publish art instruction online. 

Online publishing platforms

I'm focusing on three publishing platforms.  Their own descriptions of themselves are quoted below.
Make your own book with Blurb online. Create photo books, wedding books and more. Design and publish professional quality books to keep, give or sell brings the world of online book publishing to you. Looking to self-publish? Lulu's print on demand (POD) solutions make it quick and easy. Create a book in minutes, publish with the click of a mouse, distribute, sell and print books to order. It's that simple.
Explore a world of publications by people and publishers alike. Collect, share and publish in a format designed to make your documents look their very best.
Below you can see what the unique monthly visitors are for the different sites when their website URLs are plugged into - a site which provides comparative site profiles.

Comparison of the USA traffic for three online publishing sites: issuu, lulu and blurb
Compete's data comes from a statistically representative cross-section of 2 million consumers across the United States who have given permission to have their internet clickstream behaviors and opt-in survey responses analyzed anonymously as a new source of marketing research.
These stats came as a bit of a surprise to me.
  1. I'm surprised that Lulu is about twice as big as blurb.  I knew it was bigger but not that much bigger
  2. I'm amazed at how just how big Issuu is and will be seriously looking into this as a vehicle for publishing my work in future.  Capturing the corporate audience with repeat readers is obviously an excellent way to grow your business.  It remains to be seen whether it does the same for independent publishers.
Bear in mind that
  • the above are predominantly statistics for an American Audience. 
  • You only really begin to get an appreciation of the global audience for Issuu in the Quantcast pages (see below) - and that's because it's so big.  
  • The US audience for Issuu is only around 25% of its global audience.
This is what each of the sites look like on Quantcast which is one of my favourite analysis sites in terms of a demographic analysis of visitors by sex, age group, earnings and college education status.  It appears to indicate that each of the publishing sites appears to attract the same sort of audience for their services.

Click the link in the title to see the full Quantcast page.

Blurb on Quantcast - ranks 7,096 in USA

Lulu on Quantcast - ranks 2,740 in USA

Issuu on Quantcast - ranks 158 in USA

In conclusion:
  • Issuu is HUGE compared to the other two platforms - but only delivers online publications
  • If you want to have your book or publication about your artwork found online by readers independently of your website or blog then you need to look very seriously at issuu
  • If you want to produce a physical copy of your book for distribution to clients or galleries then you're better off looking at Blurb or Lulu.
This is a very much a first look at these three sites in comparison to one another.  I'll be revisiting them. 

What do you think?

In the meantime if you've got experience of any of the three sites and would like to share your experinces please leave a comment below.


vivien said...

I've used Blurb and was really happy with the quality and colour reproduction - a really professional finish. 3 friends have also used it with the same results.

Sales need to be generated by the author/artist - I doubt if many total strangers buy there.

There is an excellent preview of the book for buyers to see.

Anonymous said...

Great review! It would be interesting to add the digital self-publishing platform XinXii. They are a leader in Europe and went international recenty:

Deborah Paris said...

Hello Katherine. I've used Blurb twice and have been happy with the results both times. I did get the assistance of the designer to navigate their software but I think its relatively user friendly. Images are good and turn around time excellent. The preview feature is great and you can make badges and widgets to post to your website or blog. The cost per book makes it difficult to consider this as a way to make any money, however. The cost per book to the author is just too high.

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