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5 key things we learned at Digital Book World 2019

New trends in audiobooks, voice recognition, interactive storytelling, and more.


…but not without problems

Voice recognition software can also be an effective way to sell books – assuming your voice assistant understands what the heck you’re trying to buy. Ideally, voice is a dream for publishers: If a customer hears about a new book on the radio or on a podcast, they can ask an Alexa or Google Assistant app to read a sample, add the title to a wish list, or buy the book right on the spot – no hands, browser, or credit card required.

But a recent study found voice technology isn’t as accurate as publishers would hope. Bradley Metrock, host of the This Week in Voice podcast and CEO of Score Publishing, shared that his team asked Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Samsung’s Bixby queries about 15 fiction and 15 nonfiction New York Times bestsellers, such as “I want to read Becoming by Michelle Obama” or “I want to order Becoming by Michelle Obama.”

Google Assistant performed fairly well, understanding 72.5% of queries; Microsoft’s Cortana recognized 60.8%. But Apple’s Siri only understood a paltry 15%, while Samsung’s Bixby – admittedly brand-new at the time the study was done – only recognized 23.33%.

Shockingly, Amazon’s Alexa – a technology developed by the largest online bookseller in the industry – understood just 44.2% of queries. Yikes.


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