Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

12/17/2011

How To Strengthen Indie Booksellers – And Why We Should!


Strand Bookstore in NY -Still Surviving

More intrigue RE Amazon! AA doesn’t stand for Alcoholics anonymous here (although a drink wouldn’t hurt) … it stands for ‘Aggressive Amazon’.

Since Amazon is gutting the publishing industry by selling e-books (and e-book versions) at or below cost just to sell their other products … it is becoming glaringly clear that something has to be done to stop this future monopoly-in-the-making from becoming the lord and master of writers and publishers.

After all … Amazon’s core mission is NOT the art of writing and publishing … it is selling digital products [that merely deliver the true gold]! Let’s not get the true artists, creators and drivers of this  fine industry back to the slaves they were under the old exploitative traditional publishing system … just with a new digital master. The cart has been before the horse for far too long!

Now there are some out there who think the current developing digital publishing field and Amazon, in particular, is just fine because of the new emerging advantages that have been kind to some … But, BEWARE, if Amazon becomes the complete monopolistic monster it is striving for, the present advantages will vanish.

We must develop and strengthen multiple sources for the selling and distribution of our works.

Jim Milliot of Publishers Weekly has this to say:

The Amazon Workaround

The best way to blunt the e-tailer’s clout is to support a diverse marketplace

Fear that Amazon will come to dominate the bookselling market is nothing new in the publishing industry. But last week, as booksellers continued to decry the company’s price check app (which could be used to access prices on booksellers’ sideline items, like toys and DVDs) and as information about Amazon’s aggressive demands to publishers regarding co-op and retail discounts surfaced (PW Daily, “Is Amazon Pushing Publishers to Brink on Terms, Co-op?” Dec. 15), some insiders began suggesting that the time had come to actively explore ways to lessen publishers’ dependence on the e-tailer. With this in mind, PW asked a number of people in the industry what the best course of action would be. The consensus was that developing and supporting initiatives that would create a more level the playing field would be the best approach to ensure a diverse marketplace.

Publishers readily acknowledge that, after the collapse of Borders, independent booksellers have become more important, and while the indie segment has shown signs of revival this fall, booksellers will still need to work closer with publishers to develop more profitable relationships. The changes that need to be made can’t be around the edges, but need to address the fundamental selling model between publishers and bookstores, something ABA CEO Oren Teicher called for in an address at BookExpo America this spring. Some experiments are already taking place, including extended dating. This would allow booksellers to keep titles on shelves longer and give them a chance to build an audience while helping them improve their always tight cash flow.

Selling books on consignment is another method that some independent publishers are trying, but consignment sales haven’t caught on yet with the larger publishers.

Windowing—offering print books for a period of time before e-books go on sale—while enticing is seen as impractical since it is unlikely that publishers will return to a practice they have already given up. Moreover, there is some thinking that publishers could start charging a premium to customers for e-books before the print book is released, something a sizable portion of consumers said they would like.

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2 Comments »

  1. There were similar monopolistic concerns with Microsoft years ago, and some of their aggressive tactics were curbed after long and costly legal battles. But Microsoft’s dominance over the operating system has fostered a blessed standarization across a very wide spectrum of software applications. The competition in hardware is fierce. Apple survives as an arguably better although costly alternative.

    Amazon placed a huge bet that e-books would replace a broad segment of the print book market. Reportedly, they are now selling a million Kindles per week and losing money on every one. It seems they have a grand strategy to dominate the shrinking market of reading as an entertainment alternative. They are still placing their bet, but it is now certain they will win. When they have gotten too aggressive in the past, they end up in court. I trust the free market system with legal recourse will keep them in check.

    I disagree that Amazon is pushing e-books to sell toys. In my experience, their Kindle division has a mission, management and strategy that seems somewthat aloof from the core business. They seem confident that e-books are the future, and they are for fiction, memoir, essays and poetry. Traditional publishing is too inefficient in the digital world. They take months, sometimes a year, to get a novel published, and unless the author already has an established fan base, their marketing support is minimal. We can’t blame them; it is a costly, dying industry. But if they can’t afford to take a risk on a debut novelist, what will they have to sell when the established writers are too old to write?

    If a print novel sells for $18, the author can earn the same royalty with an e-book selling for $5.25. The reader saves nearly 70%, the author is likely to sell more at the lower price, and then there’s all those trees. Once the author has a formatted novel interior and cover art, he/she can publish the book through Lulu or CreateSpace in ten days or less. Given those dynamics, what does the traditional publisher have to offer the author?

    Comment by Greg Bascom — 12/19/2011 @ 4:04 am | Reply

    • Hi Greg, Thanks for your comment. I don’t disagree with you RE digital publishing being far superior to traditional publishing 🙂 My post was just warning about Amazon becoming a monopoly and dictating worse terms in the future.

      How is your novel “Lawless Elements” doing in the arena? It’s premise sounds intriguing:)

      Comment by gator1965 — 12/19/2011 @ 5:35 pm | Reply


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