Innovative Publishing

Books 2.0: Juggernaut’s bold new social reading and publishing venture goes live on mobiles

An app that aims to transform reading is a huge bet to attract smartphone warriors to books.

What happens when a curated online bookshop, rich with the promise of browsing and sampling, is combined with the minimalist environment of an e-book reader? You have the Juggernaut reading app.

Or, the all-new way of discovering and buying books, reading (and, later) writing books, and chatting with writers.

Or, the way Durga Raghunath, CEO of publishing company Juggernaut, thinks of it, a Netflix of books. Where you first have an interesting time looking up what you want to read, and then shut out everything else to just read.

Juggernaut, of course, is the brainchild of Chiki Sarkar, most lately publisher at Penguin Random House India, who has, along with Raghunath and a hand-picked team of editors, been extraordinarily quick in getting books out to readers.

It’s a grand, new experiment, which aims to do nothing less than get huge numbers of India’s biggest demographic segment – some 60 per cent of the population is under 30 – to read books. Not, however, in the way that their parents did, but in their favourite space – the smartphone.

Taking the experience beyond the e-book, Sarkar and Raghunath, powered by a technology and a usability team – largely unknown ideas in publishing – have just launched the Juggernaut app with the idea of taking books to young readers in a form familiar to them today, instead of waiting for them to come to books. Along the way, the app will also offer a brand new experience to writers.

What readers will get

Launching with 100 titles, Juggernaut has a line-up comprising 50 of its own books, and 50 more from publishing partners, among them being children’s publishers like Duckbill and Tulika Book. Juggernaut’s own list is, as one might expect from Sarkar, an engaging combination of well-known people writing unusual things (Sunny Leone’s short stories, Praveen Swami’s thrillers, Rajdeep Sardesai on cricket), power writers on home turf (William Dalrymple), first-time writers (Abheek Barua), and books on behavioural hot buttons (on overcoming heartbreak, for instance).

There’s a strong focus on genre fiction – crime, thrillers, fantasy, and even classics packaged to look contemporary – as a strategy for attracting younger readers who might not be excited enough by top notch names in literary fiction. More significant, however, are the ways in which the form is being fitted to smartphone-reading.

Not only have Sarkar and her team reduced the baseline length of their books to around 20,000 words, they’re also experimenting with serialisation and timed arrivals (a Sunny Leone story pops into your app every night at 10 PM for seven successive days). So the offering is no longer limited to a book, but extends to include how it will be read.

New forms of pricing

Young readers may have champagne tastes but beer wallets, reckons Raghunath. And the business plan for Juggernaut depends not on the individual sale of each title – the traditional method used by publishers – but on repeat purchases by each reader. That, after all, is one of the main reasons for creating an app, to be returned to, re-explored, and re-occupied repeatedly, instead of just e-books.

So, learning from the Netflix model, there is a strong layer of subscription-based pricing, with both daily and monthly passes. Rs 15 a day or Rs 299 a month (with five books at a time available for offline reading) will give a reader all she can read in that period. This, of course, is in addition to buying individual books, which will be downloaded to the phone. And with payment being as simple as paying for an Uber or Ola cab, the publishers are hoping to take the pain and inhibition out of paying online.

Discovering books

Although 100 books may not seem too large a list to go through even in linear fashion, the app is designed, obviously, for a much larger repository, so that each reader can find books aligned to their specific interest. The general presentation is influenced by media apps, with specific books being highlighted and positioned visually much in the same way as the biggest news stories of the hour are on a news media offering.

The idea is to build a relationship between a reader and a book – “Do I like this? do I want to recommend it to others? do I want to read it over and over again?” Like shortlisted potential dates on Tinder, users of this app will be building their personal lists of books they want to try out.

A critical aspect of the presentation is the cover of the book. Realising the value of the fill-screen image when it comes to converting interest to purchase, Juggernaut has designed the app for people to play with the cover visuals as they would with photographs on social media. And yes, this meant testing covers rigorously.

A brave new world for writers

For writers, almost everything will change. The Juggernaut app will add two transformative elements to the writer’s life. First, readers will not only rate the books they read, but they will also be able to ask the writer questions, using the app, before, during, or after reading a book. While this is possible even through a writer’s Facebook or Twitter pages, here the reader will most likely be actually reading the book while talking about with the writer.

Of course, writers must be prepared to respond. Getting to know exactly what readers think of your book – not as an aggregation of ritualistic ‘likes’ but as actual, individualised, responses, can be both exhilarating as well as daunting.

It’s not yet clear whether Juggernaut’s authors are aware that they have signed up not for a largely passive book-reading device like the Kindle, but a social reading app. And the more successful a writer is, the more they are likely to wake up in the morning to a flood of questions to be answered – quickly. And this could be a long-term experience if the book keeps selling.

The second change will be the pleasure – or pain – of tracking sales almost in real-time. Every writer will have a dashboard to find out exactly how many digital copies of their books have been sold. This will take the opacity out of the process, which currently comprises the annual royalty statement and occasional checking of the rank of a book on Amazon’s charts. But it will also make ecstasy and/or heartbreak instant.

What’s not out yet

A later version of the Juggernaut app will see it becoming not just a reading but also a writing space. Much like Wattpad, amateurs – and no one’s keeping the professionals out, either – will be able to add their original work and have it read, critiqued, discussed and, possibly, up- or downvoted by everyone reading. And from these community authors could emerge writers whose books Juggernaut will pick up, based on the popular response, for its main list.

Even in its first version, the app will blur the thin line between readers and writers. Once the community writing module is integrated, the line could disappear altogether. The outcome could be a transformative democratisation, with the gatekeeping roles of editing and publishing becoming less relevant as readers access the marketplace directly and pick what they like, without having the leave the environment in which they read works that have been through the formal publishing process. Writers will certainly have to respond in new ways to this new reality.

The success of Juggernaut’s reading app cannot be measured by its ability to please the existing reader. It doesn’t matter whether today’s reader takes to the app or not, since that will not expand the number of readers. If the app gains large number of first-time readers, it will have succeeded.

But while the app may be instrumental in getting non-readers to try reading, only the availability of great books will keep those readers coming back for more. This is where, working in a new space, Juggernaut will have to break new ground. Because yesterday’s books, even if shortened for a digital generation, might not be enough – the goalposts have to be shifted.

For both Juggernaut and Indian publishing, the success of the app will be a gamechanger. While there will be print editions of some (not all) of the books too, it’s the digital play that will make or break this venture.

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What hospitals can do to drive entrepreneurship and enhance patient experience

Hospitals can perform better by partnering with entrepreneurs and encouraging a culture of intrapreneurship focused on customer centricity.

At the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, visitors don’t have to worry about navigating their way across the complex hospital premises. All they need to do is download wayfinding tools from the installed digital signage onto their smartphone and get step by step directions. Other hospitals have digital signage in surgical waiting rooms that share surgery updates with the anxious families waiting outside, or offer general information to visitors in waiting rooms. Many others use digital registration tools to reduce check-in time or have Smart TVs in patient rooms that serve educational and anxiety alleviating content.

Most of these tech enabled solutions have emerged as hospitals look for better ways to enhance patient experience – one of the top criteria in evaluating hospital performance. Patient experience accounts for 25% of a hospital’s Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) score as per the US government’s Centres for Medicare and Mediaid Services (CMS) programme. As a Mckinsey report says, hospitals need to break down a patient’s journey into various aspects, clinical and non-clinical, and seek ways of improving every touch point in the journey. As hospitals also need to focus on delivering quality healthcare, they are increasingly collaborating with entrepreneurs who offer such patient centric solutions or encouraging innovative intrapreneurship within the organization.

At the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott, some of the speakers from diverse industry backgrounds brought up the role of entrepreneurship in order to deliver on patient experience.

Getting the best from collaborations

Speakers such as Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman and Managing Director - Medanta Hospitals, and Meena Ganesh, CEO and MD - Portea Medical, who spoke at the panel discussion on “Are we fit for the world of new consumers?”, highlighted the importance of collaborating with entrepreneurs to fill the gaps in the patient experience eco system. As Dr Trehan says, “As healthcare service providers we are too steeped in our own work. So even though we may realize there are gaps in customer experience delivery, we don’t want to get distracted from our core job, which is healthcare delivery. We would rather leave the job of filling those gaps to an outsider who can do it well.”

Meena Ganesh shares a similar view when she says that entrepreneurs offer an outsider’s fresh perspective on the existing gaps in healthcare. They are therefore better equipped to offer disruptive technology solutions that put the customer right at the center. Her own venture, Portea Medical, was born out of a need in the hitherto unaddressed area of patient experience – quality home care.

There are enough examples of hospitals that have gained significantly by partnering with or investing in such ventures. For example, the Children’s Medical Centre in Dallas actively invests in tech startups to offer better care to its patients. One such startup produces sensors smaller than a grain of sand, that can be embedded in pills to alert caregivers if a medication has been taken or not. Another app delivers care givers at customers’ door step for check-ups. Providence St Joseph’s Health, that has medical centres across the U.S., has invested in a range of startups that address different patient needs – from patient feedback and wearable monitoring devices to remote video interpretation and surgical blood loss monitoring. UNC Hospital in North Carolina uses a change management platform developed by a startup in order to improve patient experience at its Emergency and Dermatology departments. The platform essentially comes with a friendly and non-intrusive way to gather patient feedback.

When intrapreneurship can lead to patient centric innovation

Hospitals can also encourage a culture of intrapreneurship within the organization. According to Meena Ganesh, this would mean building a ‘listening organization’ because as she says, listening and being open to new ideas leads to innovation. Santosh Desai, MD& CEO - Future Brands Ltd, who was also part of the panel discussion, feels that most innovations are a result of looking at “large cultural shifts, outside the frame of narrow business”. So hospitals will need to encourage enterprising professionals in the organization to observe behavior trends as part of the ideation process. Also, as Dr Ram Narain, Executive Director, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, points out, they will need to tell the employees who have the potential to drive innovative initiatives, “Do not fail, but if you fail, we still back you.” Innovative companies such as Google actively follow this practice, allowing employees to pick projects they are passionate about and work on them to deliver fresh solutions.

Realizing the need to encourage new ideas among employees to enhance patient experience, many healthcare enterprises are instituting innovative strategies. Henry Ford System, for example, began a system of rewarding great employee ideas. One internal contest was around clinical applications for wearable technology. The incentive was particularly attractive – a cash prize of $ 10,000 to the winners. Not surprisingly, the employees came up with some very innovative ideas that included: a system to record mobility of acute care patients through wearable trackers, health reminder system for elderly patients and mobile game interface with activity trackers to encourage children towards exercising. The employees admitted later that the exercise was so interesting that they would have participated in it even without a cash prize incentive.

Another example is Penn Medicine in Philadelphia which launched an ‘innovation tournament’ across the organization as part of its efforts to improve patient care. Participants worked with professors from Wharton Business School to prepare for the ideas challenge. More than 1,750 ideas were submitted by 1,400 participants, out of which 10 were selected. The focus was on getting ideas around the front end and some of the submitted ideas included:

  • Check-out management: Exclusive waiting rooms with TV, Internet and other facilities for patients waiting to be discharged so as to reduce space congestion and make their waiting time more comfortable.
  • Space for emotional privacy: An exclusive and friendly space for individuals and families to mourn the loss of dear ones in private.
  • Online patient organizer: A web based app that helps first time patients prepare better for their appointment by providing check lists for documents, medicines, etc to be carried and giving information regarding the hospital navigation, the consulting doctor etc.
  • Help for non-English speakers: Iconography cards to help non-English speaking patients express themselves and seek help in case of emergencies or other situations.

As Arlen Meyers, MD, President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, says in a report, although many good ideas come from the front line, physicians must also be encouraged to think innovatively about patient experience. An academic study also builds a strong case to encourage intrapreneurship among nurses. Given they comprise a large part of the front-line staff for healthcare delivery, nurses should also be given the freedom to create and design innovative systems for improving patient experience.

According to a Harvard Business Review article quoted in a university study, employees who have the potential to be intrapreneurs, show some marked characteristics. These include a sense of ownership, perseverance, emotional intelligence and the ability to look at the big picture along with the desire, and ideas, to improve it. But trust and support of the management is essential to bringing out and taking the ideas forward.

Creating an environment conducive to innovation is the first step to bringing about innovation-driven outcomes. These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott, which is among the top 100 global innovator companies, is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.