The multiple uses of audio/video: for marketing and as a content element

The multiple uses of audio/video: for marketing and as a content element


Internet speeds, on average, are increasing every year.  According to a 2021 study conducted by the FCC and using 2020 as the benchmark year: “The weighted average advertised speed of the participating ISPs was 193.9 Mbps, representing an increase of 33% from the previous year’s Tenth (2019) Report and over 43% from the Ninth (2018) Report.”   As a logical consequence of the ever-increasing amount of bandwidth available to consumers, the use of video has been exploding.  This coincides with the ever-increasing power and quality of video cameras built into today’s smartphones, allowing for high quality amateur-created video.  

The use of video as a marketing tool is increasing.  A recent survey of marketing executives showed that 80% say that video helped to increase sales and 92% who use video say it’s a key part of their marketing strategy.  The graph on the right makes clear that video greatly outperforms still photos and links in getting people to engage, as measured by click-throughs.

So, you’re not Procter & Gamble?  No worries, there is still a lot you can do to market your products and services using video.  For example:  

            - Author signings, blogs, posts

            - Newsletters

             - Award ceremonies

             - Special events


Embedded audio and/or video can enrich your books.  The epub format was introduced in 2007.  Epub3.0 was born in 2011, coming into commercial use in 2012.  With the advent of epub3, ebooks were able to offer features not available in print books, notably audio and video.  Publishers of children’s books and school market publishers have taken advantage of these features, with the introduction of Readalongs (also called Readalouds).  These are enhanced fixed-layout epub3 files, with an embedded professional audio track, with word-by-word highlighting.  This format is for picture books geared to children who are Pre-K to 2nd grade.  For slightly older children, the highlighting can be done by line, sentence or paragraph.  These are considered great tools for teaching reading.  Readalongs are compatible with most book readers, including iBooks, Kobo, Google, and Overdrive.  Amazon does not accept this format.  

Below you can see a Readalong version of a graphic novel, with the arrow pointing to the word being read and highlighted.  

The image below shows the simple interface in eBooks (on an iPad) to engage the readaloud feature.

In terms of discoverability, the following shows a search on Libby, Overdrive’s app for reading/listening, that displays the readalongs separately.

Video is great for providing an enhanced UX (user experience) in non-fiction books.  For children, the addition of video is engaging and educational.  For example, a book on whales might have a 15-second video showing a blue whale surfacing for air. A book on Michael Jordan might have a few short videos of him in action.

On the adult side, video has many uses.  In academic and professional books, you might add a few short vignettes of industry experts and/or the author, reinforcing a key point, perhaps with an illustration on a whiteboard.  For example, a visual explanation of how to create pivot tables can be useful in a book on MS Excel.  For instructional books, such as those on carpentry, gardening, knitting, cooking, etc., a few well-placed videos can add clarity to more difficult concepts.  For religious books, short videos from a spiritual leader can reinforce key points or add additional explanation to a psalm or phrase of Scripture.   

From a commercial standpoint, these enhancements can be a good investment.  Creating a readalong version of a 500-to-600-word picture book costs well under $500. The list price of the readalong versions is generally about double that of the non-enhanced version.  

With today’s smartphones, you can create most video in-house.  Adding it to epubs is inexpensive- several can be added for well under $100.   While this type of enhancement will not necessarily justify a higher list price, it’s great for promoting the book.   You just have to be careful to keep it/them short (15-30 seconds max) as they make the file heavy and it’s easy to exceed the file size limits of the major resellers.    

By Larry Bennett, Executive Director, North America at Nord Compo

Nord Compo is a 50-year-old, 500-person provider of a wide range of services to hundreds of book publishers worldwide, including typesetting, ebook creation/digital, audiobook creation, editorial services and design services.  Their software division creates custom solutions for mid-sized to large publishers.  As one of the founding members of the Readium Foundation (, they are at the forefront of ebook technology.

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