Wilfrid Laurier University Press website lets small team to do big things online

As the fourth largest university press in Canada, Wilfrid Laurier University Press (WLUP) has been publishing scholarly monograms and collections, mainly in the area of social sciences and humanities, since 1974.

The press currently publishes 30 to 40 books per year -- an ambitious publishing program for a small team. This was a big factor in WLUP’s requirement for a website that was reliable, easy to update and maintain, and that provided lots of automated features to minimize the demand on staff time.

The need for an efficient and highly automated site was amplified by some other significant changes in the life of the press. In 2015, WLUP merged with the university library. In the process, its mandate expanded even as staff and budget resources came under new constraints. WLUP was being asked to do more with less, and to meet some ambitious new performance and financial goals at the same time.

All things considered, WLUP was looking for more than a new website; it also needed a new set of tools to efficiently and effectively market and sell its books online.

The problem -- It was a challenge just to showcase and sell books


WLUP’s previous website lacked key features that were essential to its core business needs: showcasing and selling books.

“We couldn’t really put together pages where we could display special projects, for example, if we wanted to highlight a series or blog, or set up a more intensive social media campaign,” said Murray Tong, Digital Projects Co-ordinator. “The sales mechanism also wasn’t working very well on the old site.”

The solution -- A ReaderBound site with automated data imports, special content features, and integrated order fulfillment


WLUP turned to ReaderBound for a beautiful new site that makes it easy for staff to showcase the press’s books to readers, scholars, and librarians. “When we’re ready to publish a book, we flip a few switches and the book goes into the New Releases section and into the Purchase section,” Tong said. “It’s a lot less labour when it comes to being able to launch a new book.”

The site’s bibliographic metadata is automatically refreshed every 12 hours, so the title listings on the site are closely synced to the latest data in the WLUP ONIX repository.

Each book title’s listing features rich sample content including tables of contents that are imported via the ONIX feed, as well as additional PDF excerpts. All titles are categorized according to the proprietary subject scheme developed by the press, and “You May Also Like” title recommendations are tuned to prioritize relevant selections from matching categories or series within the press’s catalogue.

The site also facilitates book sales to consumers and institutional buyers. Orders are processed on the site, then automatically sent to WLUP’s distributor (UTP Distribution) for fulfillment. The press does not have to handle the orders, and sales reporting is integrated with existing financial administration processes.

The result -- Expanded content, special campaigns, and new ways to engage with readers and writers


The new site makes it easy for readers to explore WLUP’s entire catalogue of books, and allows WLUP staff to easily showcase specific authors and titles. They can also add extra content to book listings, like photo galleries and audio clips. “We have two books with accompanying CDs in the print versions,” Tong said. “It’s a big time saver to post the audio files on the site. In the case of these two books, they’ve sold out their original runs, so getting another CD together would be a lot of work. This allows us to not have to reprint the CD.”

Staff can also set up a special campaigns, sales offers, and additional content pieces. “We’re able to really quickly post events, and post links to media appearances of the books,” Tong said. It’s also gearing up to launch a new podcast series, in collaboration with the Canadian Institute for Studies in Publishing, that innovates on the traditional model of scholarly review and encourages an open peer review process.

The new site also enables expanded content for WLUP’s distinguished academic series, and it has allowed the press to launch a blog. “It’s great to have a place to put think pieces, news, or articles of interest,” Tong said.