Product Hunt Books: A new opportunity for discoverability?

Product Hunt Books

We all know the importance of a book’s “launch”. That moment when you finally launch your characters into the outside world and put them at the mercy of your readers. That moment when, if you’re publishing digitally, it all becomes about making friends with Amazon’s little elves.

Once you’ve let your mailing list, Twitter followers and Facebook fans know about your new book, it becomes time to look for new readers, places and audiences.

Product Hunt Books might be one to strongly consider. While famous in the “tech” space, the Product Hunt website is much lesser-known among authors, and that is where the opportunity lies (as there is less competition!). To let Reedsy readers know more about it, we managed to interview Erik Torenberg, founding team member of Product Hunt and Product Hunt Books, to tell us more about the platform and how you can use it. We’ve added our personal Reedsy opinion on the matter in italic right under his answers.

Interviewing Product Hunt founding team member Erik Torenberg

Hi Erik, it’s an honor to have you on the Reedsy Blog! For our non-techy readers, could you tell us quickly what Product Hunt is all about?

Product Hunt is a place to discover new and undiscovered products — from apps and websites to games and books — and discuss them with other awesome people. It grew from a simple email list to talk about apps and websites into a website where people started “hunting” not only apps and sites but also books, games, movies, music, etc.

More on Product Hunt: Erik’s actually being quite modest. Product Hunt is the leader in tech product discovery. Last time Reedsy was “hunted” there, we got a massive spike in traffic, and great feedback from early adopters: https://www.producthunt.com/tech/reedsy-2

The way it works is: people “hunt” (submit) products, and the curators select a few that are featured on the landing page. Users can then “upvote” the products they like most after reading more about them on their product hunt page. The products that get to the top are then selected for Product Hunt’s daily and weekly newsletters.

A few months ago, you launched Product Hunt Books. What was the thinking behind it? Why books?

We launched books for a few reasons. First, people started hunting books on the main producthunt.com website: Peter Thiel’s Zero to One did very well, Ashlee Vance’s biography of Elon Musk did very well, Eric Ries’ new book did very well, etc.

More importantly, I’m a big fan of books! I love to read, and I realized that we had a lot of readers on Product Hunt. I knew Eric Ries had started a book club and that it had gone really well, so I decided to create one as well and a few thousand people joined in just to start.

A lot of publishers and authors are convinced there is a huge “content discoverability” problem in the book publishing industry. Would you agree with that? Does Product Hunt Books aim at solving it?

Yeah, I think there’s a content discoverability problem for books. There are so many books out there but I want to read stuff that has been curated for me by either people who I really respect and follow or by my close friends. So we’re really investing in “collections” to make that possible: we have a collection by Mark Cuban, Eric Ries, and many more.

More on collections: Collections also exist on the general Product Hunt website and work really well. Here’s an example: https://www.producthunt.com/e/tools-for-writers: we get traffic coming from that one on a regular basis.

For the future of Product Hunt Books, collections represent a huge opportunity for authors and readers. They offer every reader the opportunity to “curate” their own list of books, in a much more elegant way then Goodreads. Then, people can “follow” collections, the same way you would follow a book reviewer or blogger. As Product Hunt becomes less “tech-oriented” and gathers a more generalistic following, PHB collections could become one of the biggest players in book discoverability.

How are the books featured on the Product Hunt Books page selected every day?

We’ve got a team of curators who basically see the feed of submitted books and select which books to let through on the landing page every day. Those curators have been vetted by us and are people who’ve been familiar with Product Hunt for a while now.

If I’m a reader, how does Product Hunt Books work? Are there any “perks” to using Product Hunt to find my next book? Do authors offer discounts on Product Hunt?

Yes, some authors will do “exclusives” for Product Hunt: for Neil Strauss we did an exclusive of the first few chapters. We’ll do other things like that where readers get the first few chapters for free, or exclusive pre-launches.

If you’re an author, we’d love to do deals with you to offer something special to Product Hunt readers. Some publishing houses want us to do quizzes and surveys, and we’re keen on doing that. We’re also very open on working with people who are self-publishing and going outside of the traditional route.

Some authors have huge followings. Aren’t you worried that they’ll just invite all their existing readers to vote for their book once it’s been “hunted”?

Yes, that can always be a concern, when Ashton Kutcher or Snoop Dogg post something on Product Hunt for example — they have millions of followers. But the Product Hunt community is so big already that most of the time, it’s not going to be enough to move the needle. When Snoop posts something it sometimes goes to the top, but sometimes also doesn’t. Authors don’t have more followers than those guys do, so I’m not super worried about it!

Testimonials from authors and publishers

Of course, you don’t need to take Erik’s word for it. Here are two testimonials from people whose books have been featured on Product Hunt Books.

Reedsy — The Fundraising Field Guide

You might remember we published a book at Reedsy a few months ago. As it was a “tech” book on fundraising, we thought that Product Hunt Books would be the perfect audience for it. And we were right, we got a nice spike on the day it was featured and over 100 upvotes on the book: http://www.producthunt.com/books/fundraising-field-guide

 

Fundraising Field Guide Product Hunt Books

 

Mike Belsito — Startup Seed Funding For the Rest of Us

We interviewed Mike Belsito on “how to nail your book launch”, and he explained to us that having his book featured on the Product Hunt website (PH Books hadn’t launched at that time) had played a major role in his success. Naturally, when Product Hunt Books launched, he got his book hunted there too:

“I thought it was the perfect platform given that my audience —people interested in startups and entrepreneurship— seem to gravitate towards the Product Hunt platform. And sure enough, the feedback on the book that I’ve received from the Product Hunt Books community has been overwhelmingly positive. You can see the spike below.

It’s not as if being on Product Hunt is a ‘magic pill’ that makes my book an instant bestseller; however to me, it’s a great platform to validate that the topic I wrote about is one that people care about.”

Startup Seed Funding for the rest of us Product Hunt Books

 

What now for Product Hunt Books?

To sum up, Product Books represents not only an awesome marketing channel for authors who write for a tech-savvy audience. It also presents major new opportunity for the whole book industry if it manages to establish itself as a major player in the “book discovery” game. We can definitely see that happening: in terms of user experience and design, and through its “collections”, it is, in theory, a much better platform for readers than, say, Goodreads. The question is whether it will be able to break out of its “techy” reputation and go mainstream to touch a wider variety of readers, and genres.

In the meantime, if you have a new release and want to see if Product Hunt can be good for you, submit your book here: https://www.producthunt.com/books/new and then trust the little PH elves to make it rise. They’re usually nicer than the Amazon ones.

 


Check out today’s hunted book on the Product Hunt Books page!

Do you think Product Hunt Books can become a major player in book discovery? Have you had your book featured there? Please leave us your thoughts and experiences in the comments below and join the conversation!

 

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  • I wonder if breaking book submissions into different categories or genres would help Product Hunt transcend its “techy” reputation.

    • I think it certainly could, yes. The problem is that they are doing this for several things at once: websites&apps, games, books, etc. And their expertise is on the former two, so I wonder how much energy they’ll put into developing the books section. In any case, I’ll watch it closely

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