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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Jan 19, 2018

Mark interviews Sinead McElhinney, PR Coordinator on the Communications team from Rakuten Kobo in Toronto, Ontario about some interesting reading data that Kobo released near the end of 2017. They discuss the analysis of reading data, understanding core eBook readers better, as well as some of Sinead’s favorite things about her role in the book industry.

Mark & Sinead at RT Booklovers in Atlanta

During the chat, they discuss:

  • Where she started and how she got her start at Kobo
  • Her role in marketing and the on-brand customer/reader experience
  • The double-edged sword of social media
  • The difference between using social media for personal use and for a corporation that needs to keep its target demographics in mind
  • Details about the top “actually read” books from the previous year and the data dissection performed on this reading data
  • Just because something is a bestseller doesn’t mean that it is a book that has been read through to completion. IE, looking at books that were actually finished can be meaningful data
  • The binge-reading that Sinead does the same way some others might engage in binge-watching a show via Netflix
  • Some common themes in the most popularly read books
  • The dynamic engagement with both writers and readers that Sinead participated in when visiting the Romantic Time (RT) Booklovers conference in Atlanta in May 2017
  • The diversity within the many different types of romance readers that Sinead discovered at RT Booklovers
  • The launch of audiobooks at Kobo in late summer of 2017 and some of the things they learned about the types of books people prefer reading in eBook format versus listening to
  • The integration of OverDrive library borrowing in the Kobo Aura ONE

After the interview, Mark reflects on the evolution of storytelling and how, in oral storytelling, the creator could receive immediate and instant audience feedback that might help them to adjust their story's tone, pacing and other elements on the fly. He touches upon how story, as a written medium in print format, completely divorces that connection when the act of reading becomes a solitary pursuit, but that digital reading brings back an intriguing degree of those elements that writers and publishers could likely benefit if analyzed effectively.

He shares his own experience telling ghost stories to live audiences and how, as a storyteller, he can easily adapt the tales based on audience reaction. He discusses the interesting metrics that a platform such as offers to writers about the demographics of their readers and other reading stats. He also talks about the "real time" blog story I, DEATH that his novel was based upon allowed him the luxury of adapting the story as it was being rolled out based on reader reaction. And, finally, he suggests that platforms like Kindle and Kobo wield a fascinating opportunity related to the type of in depth reading data that Sinead was talking about that can significantly benefit writers and publishers.


Links of Interest:

Kobo PR -

Mark and Sinead on the KWL Podcast at RT (Romantic Times) – Episode 84

How to be alone, but not lonely” - An article Sinead wrote about unplugging for a weekend in a style that Henry David Thoreau would certainly appreciate.

Related Articles on Reading Data From EBooks:


Sinead McElhinney is the Public Relations Specialist at Rakuten Kobo Inc in Toronto, Ontario, where, among other things, she manages Kobo’s PR agencies in Canada, the United States, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Australia. She believes in uniting professionalism and personality and is committed to the notion that the right story has the ability to spark meaningful change.


This podcast was sponsored by Findaway Voices – a company that gives authors and publishers everything they need to create professionally-narrated audiobooks and reach listeners in more than 170 countries through the world’s largest audiobook distribution network