Tonight’s post will get into why Amazon is so much better at marketing and selling than the book publishing industry.
Briefly, the answer lies in push marketing versus pull marketing, timing (being late to the dinner table) and true innovation.
Tonight’s research/resource article is from The Digital Reader (Ink, Bits and Pixels) written by Nate Hoffelder:
The Ubiquitous Bookstore, Or Why Amazon is Winning at Publishing
Scholarly Kitchen posted an article yesterday which explains why Amazon is so much better at marketing and selling than the book publishing industry.
Joseph Esposito uses the post to lay out his vision for a new type of bookstore – one which could compete with Amazon. Describing Amazon as a destination site, Esposito sees its success as primarily due to pull marketing. In other words, Amazon draws people in by offering a huge warehouse of books and a great shopping experience.
To compete with Amazon, Esposito thinks publishers need to adapt to the new nature of the internet:
But the Web is now being brought to us; it’s evolving into a push medium. All that time we spend looking at the news feeds for Facebook, Flipboard, and Twitter point to where the Web is going and where new bookstores will have to be. To build a bookstore that goes head to head with Amazon is foolhardy. It would be easier to carry the ball into the defensive line of the Chicago Bears.
So a new bookstore is going to have to bring its offerings to where people are rather than the other way around; a new bookstore has to be ubiquitous. A recent example of this comes from HarperCollins,which has created an arrangement with Twitter to sell copies of the bestselling Divergent series of young adult novels from within individual tweets.
The fact that this is a topic of discussion in the publishing industry, in 2015 no less – folks, this is why Amazon is winning whatever war publishing feels it is fighting with the retailer.
It’s not that Esposito is wrong so much as that he is five years late to the discussion. Both Amazon and authors started push marketing at least 5 years ago.
Authors have been on social media since at least 2010, and they’ve been pushing people to bookstore to buy books. This concept is so well established that there are dozens of blog posts by indie authors which discuss the nuances of how to go about it.
What’s more, Amazon mastered the concept of push marketing even further back. I don’t know exactly when Amazon launched its affiliate network, but that was explicitly designed to give other websites a financial incentive to push customers to Amazon (h\t to Marshall Poe for making a similar argument in TSK’s comment section).
Tell me, can I make more money by pushing people to HarperCollins’ bookstore than by sending them to Amazon? No? Then why would I bother?
Speaking of HarperCollins, they are a great example of a publisher trying and failing to market and sell directly to consumers. Have you visited HarperCollins.com, and tried to browse, search, or buy an ebook?
I have, and so have several commenters on The Passive Voice. It’s terrible. If, as Esposito posits, direct retail is the future of publishing, then HC literally cannot build a retail site to save its life.
But never mind HarperCollins; let’s consider what Esposito wrote next:
From a conceptual point of view, the most interesting project I have stumbled upon for “post-destination” bookstores is that of Chris Kubica, who explained his work in two articles in Publishers Weekly, which you can find here and here. Kubica gathered a group of publishing people in New York to brainstorm about a post-Amazon bookstore. The conclusion was that each individual potentially could be the site or source of a bookstore–a bookstore of one. With seven billion people on the planet (and growing), that’s potentially seven billion bookstores. Now, how can Amazon compete with that?
Easy. Amazon thought of it first, they thought of it ages ago, and they do it better than anyone in publishing.
Folks, if you want to beat Amazon then you need to come up with an idea first. You can’t decide to adopt an SOP five years after it becomes an SOP. That’s not innovative; it’s reactionary.
The Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue Blog is available on Kindle here 🙂