The Surprising Power of "Little Data" (Peter Collingridge, Bookseer)

Peter Collingridge (@gunzalis) is co-founder of Enhanced Editions and MD of Apt Studio. He recently joined Safari Books Online.


At least, that’s what we realized a year into our first startup. It was in early 2010 when we looked into the analytics from our enhanced ebook apps, and recognized we had stumbled upon a goldmine—a voyeuristic peek into the habits of when and how a reader reads.

In 2008, I had co-founded a company called Enhanced Editions, with the humble goal of making the ebook that the iPhone deserved. By mid 2010, it was clear that we weren’t going to make it as a business, and we changed course, hard, to capturing as much data about readers as possible. It wasn’t a random pivot, but a change of direction absolutely informed by our failure to sell enough apps.

Our first app (Bunny Munro, by Nick Cave) had succeeded in capturing the imagination of readers, publishers, authors, and journalists around the world. It earned us enough downloads, sales, and column-inches to make us actually believe that we had invented the first truly digital book.

However, try as hard as we might, this initial hubris gradually wore off as we conclusively failed to convert our initial success into a sustainable business.

Bunny reimagined the ebook as a multimedia experience: we synchronized the audiobook (read by its rock-star author) to the ebook, which was itself designed with the utmost ...

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