By Michelle Tahan
Harvard University Press
Oxford Academic (Oxford University Press)
Videos are becoming a common phenomenon in academic publishing. A simple way to engage, interact, and create personal connections with readers, many publishers such as Harvard University Press, Oxford University, and Yale University are embracing the opportunity to provide supplemental contents on video platforms that readers can enjoy. The greatest advantage, however, is that such video content has the ability to attract media attention to publishers’ books and titles, thus creating greater opportunities for marketing and exposure.
The process of video creation, editing, and production is simpler than most people think. Gregory Kornbluh, a web content manager at Harvard University Press, explained how he was able to simplify the process by using his own camera to create videos. This do-it-yourself approach made it much easier for HUP to focus on authors’ expertise, deliver meaningful content, and eliminate the setbacks and complications of hiring a professional videographer and editor. By consulting with HUP’s publicists and editors, and focusing on trade-oriented titles like “If the author is a snooze, no one watches”, Kornbluh was able to revamp the HUP video program to include more than sixty-five videos with a couple thousand views each.
Other universities like Oxford University Press have more than forty people who take part in the video production process. Their academic YouTube channel has more than eight hundred and fifty videos and features non-book reference products as well, such as academic video tutorials (math, chemistry) and editors that explain books and journals for publicists. While there is no direct evidence that videos sell books, OUP social media manager Alice Northover makes a valuable point that “it’s about search engine optimization – when people search online, video brings consumers to our books.”
Similarly, university programs like Yale University and University of Minessota have adopted their own video marketing strategies as well. With two separate YouTube channels, Yale University Press is able to deliver different content to different audiences; it has twenty-thirty videos on each channel. University of Minessota adopts a more measured effort, specializing in books on music (often jazz), music criticism, curated photography books, and cookbooks. Some videos became very popular, such as Rifftide, Out of the Vinly Deeps, and Village Voice.
Whether produced in-house, by professional videographers, software editing programs, or independently, university publishing presses have gained positive benefits by embracing the video marketing strategy. Each program can be tailored to its desired specialty – whether it is author interviews, editorial book reviews, or academic how-to tutorials. More and publishers are discovering the ease and benefits of having a video platform – readers are drawn to them, and thus, are easily exposed to the books, titles, authors, and more.