The Business 2 Community portal has shared a long and detailed article entitled: “Why Brands Should Publish eBooks (And How To Do It Effectively).” This presents a potted history of e-books for marketing mavens, along with adoption/penetration stats, followed by a point-by-point guide for marketers on to how to build on that new platform. Benefits fall into two broad areas: lead generation and brand value enhancement. There’s also plenty of info on tools like Canva and Selz that make creating e-books as easy for brands as for untutored self-published authors.
“For business owners, there’s a huge branding, marketing and even profit making opportunity in publishing eBooks even if your business has nothing to do with publishing,” states the author. Self-published writers could also learn some things from the walkthrough about how to build audience traction and a fan base.
That said, as a sometime business media pro, I can tell you one overriding issue with this thesis: Compelling content. An e-book is different from a ad, or even a promo brochure. People have to be actually ready to leaf through page after page about your brand. Will they?
For certain types of high-end brands, I can see this actually working. Take major auto brands like Porsche, for example, or luxury fashion brands like Louis Vuitton. A quick search on Anazon confirms that such titles exist and are sold for good money – though LV might want to think about putting out an e-book edition of that glossy hardcover as well. I can certainly imagine fans actually reading e-books about them and their history. As for less attractive business sectors, the type of company history or yearbook often produced as gifts for clients could certainly be rolled out as an e-book as well. Whether anyone would actually read them is another question, but that hasn’t stopped firm after firm printing them in the past.
To reiterate, though: An e-book about your brand is only going to be as good as the brand story you have to tell. Much brand value consists in precisely the creation and articulation of such stories. Of course, e-books can be useful tools to transmit and reinforce that brand value. But the real focus of brand value creation is going to have to remain fixed on the brand narrative, in whatever form it takes. Canva, Selz, and other handy e-book creation tools aren’t going to help with that.
Of course, a company’s brand is not usually about its history or the details of its product line. A good brand communicates the company’s attributes, strengths, and personality. If innovation is part of a company’s brand, for instance, it might make sense for the firm to sponsor the publication of an ebook *about* innovation even if the ebook focuses on something other than the company’s business: an ebook about Thomas Edison, for instance. I would like to see more companies venturing into that kind of ebook sponsorship.