For its first six decades, the inches-thick Entertainment Book, which offered coupons for nearly every trade and business, was a staple in many homes. Searching through the offerings brought a sense of order amid a multimedia industry still in its infancy.
But all that will change in 2022, as Troy-based Entertainment/Afin Technologies moves to a fully digital, app-based format. Goodbye typeface, hello cyberspace.
“The reality is we appeal to a much younger and more digitally and mobile-savvy audience,” says Lee Evans, CEO of Entertainment/Afin Technologies, explaining the rationale for the paperless switch. “They’re looking at dealing with codes rather than books.”
Evans says he had a vision for an all-digital Entertainment Book in 2019 when he and his wife, Nicola, acquired the company for a reported $25 million. “We saw a digital, mobile, online version of the Entertainment Book back then,” he says. “That was the purpose of making the acquisition.”
The transition to a digital format started when Afin Technologies, which is based in California, bought the Entertainment company and added a website and an app. The move improved the experience for both the company and its faithful customers, as offers can be updated and new discounts can be introduced throughout the year.
“The 2021 book was complete, in terms of merchant offers, in April of 2020,” Evans explains. “We get at least 300 new offers from around the country every month. People who buy the books don’t get those offers unless they download the app, which they got free with the book.”
Nine out of 10 people registered for and used the app when they got the book, says Evans, who adds that the company’s digital users have access to some 500,000 offers from all over the U.S. and Canada.
“That was a big part of the decision,” he says. “We’re giving people more offers throughout the year via the digital app. Why would you buy one printed book and miss out on all this content? Why not take the whole gamut and take the app wherever you go? You’re effectively getting 80 books for the price of one.”
The company will save as much as $200,000 per year by not printing books — money it intends to invest in expanding its operations and offerings.
The app currently accounts for more than $1 million per year in recurring revenue, according to Evans. He anticipates that figure to grow to at least $3 million as the company transitions to digital.
In addition to being much lighter and less bulky to handle, the new Entertainment app will be shareable, and eventually AI will make it possible to anticipate a user’s needs — not unlike the way Netflix makes suggestions to its customers based on their past entertainment selections.
“We want to put the right coupons in the right hands, at the right time, in the right place,” Evans says.