E-Readers and student recruitment… is your viewbook ready?

E-readers and Student Recruitment: Rapid Viewbook Delivery Right from the Web

Soon I’ll be updating a popular presentation for my Sunday afternoon tutorial at this year’s AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education in November. 

The first version of “Student Recruitment in an Online World: Creating a Marketing Communications Plan in a World without Paper” seemed like a crazy idea when created for ACT’s Enrollment Planners Conference in 2008. Until more than 40 people signed for the pre-conference session.

We updated and repeated it at the ACT meeting in 2009 and again at eduWeb2009 as pre-conference workshops this summer. The eduWeb session is online now at SlideShare and so far 1,396 people have viewed it and 13 have said it was a “favorite.”

A key element right at the start is a review and discussion of e-readers. For most people, that means Amazon’s Kindle or Sony’s competitors.

Way back in 2008 we agreed on one thing: since e-readers were only available to read “black & white” text, they were not yet a viable alternative for things like viewbooks (or alumni magazines or annual reports). And in 2008, we could only speculate about when color e-readers would be available.

E-readers Soon in Color

Since then, the pace of change has been rapid. If you haven’t yet started to think about how many people will want to download your viewbook from your website to an e-reader in the next 12 to 24 months, you’d best starting thinking now.

    • In the 2009 summer events, we were able to talk about the first commercial e-reader in color from Fujitsu. It was (and is) available only in Japan and it cost about $1,000. Far from a mass-market device but remarkable progress in less than a year.
    • Now Barnes & Noble has announced that in spring 2010 it will market a color e-reader. The potential manufacturer has denied this, but you can watch a Barnes & Noble rep announce it on YouTube.

No price was mentioned in the YouTube interview but I’d look for something substantially under $1,000. At first, it will be for early adopters rather than the general public. But you can sure feel which way the wind is blowing. And it is blowing much harder than it was in 2008.

Sony Invests Major $$$ in TV Ad Campaign

  • Sony debuted a new TV ad campaign for an e-reader priced at $199 during this year’s Emmy Awards TV show. People who missed that might have caught it last Sunday during an NFL game or perhaps on an episode of “Good Wife.” Big $$$ behind this. 
  • Amazon has cut the price of the least expensive Kindle to $259 (second time this year) and introduced a new “international version” at $279. Perfect for international student recruitment?
  • Barnes & Noble has e-reader software you can download for your PC or Mac or smartphone. Ideal for the fast growing netbook sector. I’m reading my free copy of Dracula on my netbook right now each time my plane leaves the ground.

Viewbooks and Alumni Magazine for E-readers in 2011?

So what about your viewbook and your alumni magazine?

Isn’t it time now to get ready for 2011, if not 2010? If you want people to know your college or university really is a tech-savvy place, will you have full-color publications ready for people to download to an e-reader direct from your website or Facebook page? 

Pressures will only grow to reduce print publication costs. Every download to an e-reader is one less copy you’ll have to print and mail. Not to mention the rapid delivery advantage. Time to get started now. Out there in higher education land, somebody already has. Maybe your chief competitor.

Join me at the AMA marketing symposium for a new version of “Student Recruitment in an Online World: Creating a Marketing Communications Plan in a World without Paper.” Register for Tutorial D after you review the session outline

That’s all for now.



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