Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

04/06/2015

Amazon Is Winning at Publishing – Here’s Some Reasons Why


Winning The Publishing Race

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 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

09/23/2011

An 84 Year Old Surviving, Thriving Bookstore!


Benjamin Bass, founder, the Strand Book Store in NY

Who the hell said that bookstores are a thing of the past … emulsified in the wake of the digital storm?

I got news! There is an 84-year-old bookstore in New York that is not only still standing …  BUT, is thriving on the printed word …

Behnam Nateghi reports in The Voice of America:

Books and bookstores, have been having a hard time in the United States in the last few years.  Not long ago, large discount booksellers drove many small, independent book stores out of business.  Now,  those superstores are taking a hit from on-line and digital book sellers. Borders —  the country’s number two book chain — recently declared bankruptcy and Amazon says it is now selling more e-books than printed ones. But in New York City, there’s a family owned, independent book store that is still going strong.

Family owned business

The Strand Book store, in New York’s East Village, is surrounded by huge buildings belonging to New York University. It is more than 84 years old and is among the oldest cultural institutions in New York. It’s affectionately known for the row of tables outside, filled with one-dollar books.

Nancy Bass Wyden, Strand’s manager, is the granddaughter of the store’s founder, Benjamin Bass.  

Nancy and her father, Fred Bass, say the store owes at least part of its success to its location in New York City.

Read and learn more  

Get this Publishing/Writing news blog on your Kindle 🙂

02/26/2011

Booksellers Need to Become ‘Jack-of-All-Trades’ to Flourish


I just love that old term ‘jack-of-all-trades’…It sounds so self relient and totally competent! Outsourcing, a darling concept  in the corporate (and government world), is now OUT in the publishing and bookselling universe…at least the messy business side of that universe.

The new buzz word for a biz model being a more inclusively competent, ‘jack-of-all-trades’ type is to be ‘vertically’ organized as opposed to ‘horizontally’ (outsourcing of some functions) organized. 

As is expressed so succinctly by Michael Wolf in his Crush or Get Crushed: Why B&N Needs to Be a Publisher article on his great blog GigaOM :

Let’s face it, the total pie in books is going to shrink, and the long and unwieldy value-chain from writer to customer is going to collapse. Amazon knew this a long time ago, and that’s why they’ve been moving to disintermediate the publisher and the wholesaler in the e-book world by becoming, essentially, the entire value chain themselves.

One ingredient this new self-sufficient biz side of the publishing and bookselling universe will ALWAYS need, of course, are the writers (creators) of great content! Writers are the really one indispensable part of the equation and they too are now becoming their own publishers (mostly through online publishers/e-retailers like Amazon, etc)…but, watch out…one day we may be able to eliminate the likes of Amazon, too.   

This now from Michael Wolf on GigaOM: 

Talk about frustrating: This week Barnes & Noble announced topline growth year over year and its first profit in four quarters, and how was it rewarded for its hard work?

With a pounding by Wall Street.

The drubbing was due in part to the news the company was eliminating its dividend in order to invest more in its digital business, but there’s no doubt the recent Borders bankruptcy filing weighed on the minds of investors. After all, B&N is the Coke to Borders’ Pepsi, and it’s easy to assume what happens to one will eventually inflict the other.

But as this excellent answer on Quora by former Borders employee Mark Evans points out, Borders failed for numerous reasons, the most important of which was its outsourcing of online to Amazon. What B&N realized — and Borders didn’t — was you don’t become a true online retailer by outsourcing the business, especially to what may be your number one competitor.

Read and learn more

01/13/2011

Decoding the Business-Side of Being an Author


Online booksellers are continuously working on new platforms that make the publishing and selling of books easier for authors of all grades. Amazon and other onliners have come up with all kinds of dashboards that give author-clients instant, realtime info on their books’ sales, campaigns, visits, sample reads, etc…Data that traditional publishing furnished to its authors much more slowly and with less detail through BookScan.

Sarah Lacy of TechCrunch wrote the following article giving more details:

First Amazon Took Down Booksellers…Are Publishers Next?
  
It’s not that Amazon set out to destroy small book stores. They just offered a better option for a large number of people. Now, Amazon is increasingly offering small features here and there that taken together may start to make a traditional publisher a lot less necessary for authors.No one is more shocked by that sentence than I am. While I’ve jumped firmly from old-media to new-media when it comes to articles and videos, I’ve remained a big believer that self-publishing via eBook isn’t yet a viable option for most authors, assuming you want a lot of people to read your book. It’s just not personally satisfying either. A book is something I spend years of my life writing– usually for a comparatively small amount of money — and I want to hold it once all the pain is over. I want it to sit on my coffee table.  I want it reviewed in the New York Times. And I want to walk in a book store and see it on the shelf. In most cases, only a traditional publisher can do that for me.

Don’t get me wrong–  I’m sure I will sell more eBooks than physical books this year and over my lifetime. But without the vetting, marketing, distribution and clout of a major publisher, I doubt I’d sell many of either. The first question anyone asks an author is, “Who’s publishing you?” Much like how the WashingtonPost.com relies on the brand and legacy of the Washington Post, unless you are a huge name, you need the anchor of a “real book” for your eBook to do well and be taken seriously. That’s just reality.

But it won’t always be reality, and Amazon has quietly been doing small things on Author Central to help authors take more control. My second book comes out later this month, so I’ve been taking a close look at the services Amazon offers to authors. It’s changed dramatically since my last book was published in 2008.

Read and learn more

 

08/31/2010

There’s Something About Barnes and Noble


Just like the old country store in past eras became a gathering and resting place, so has the Barnes and Noble bookstores in present time…or is it getting to be the recent past?

Anyway, B&N is a great place for a good cup of joe!

This insightful slice of literary Americana was reported in the New York Times by Julie Bosman:

At Bookstore, Even Nonbuyers Regret Its End

On Monday afternoon, Jai Cha walked out of the Barnes & Noble at 66th Street and Broadway in Manhattan as he does nearly every week — without a book.

“I’m just killing time,” said Mr. Cha, a 30-year-old lawyer, his hands stuffed deep in his pockets. “I’ve been coming here to read Bill Simmons’s ‘Book of Basketball,’ about a chapter at a time.”

He might have to hurry. Barnes & Noble announced on Monday that at the end of January it would close the store, a four-story space across the street from Lincoln Center that has been a neighborhood landmark since it opened nearly 15 years ago.

“We recognize that this store has been an important part of the fabric of the Upper West Side community since we opened our doors on Oct. 20, 1995,” Mary Ellen Keating, a company spokeswoman, said in a statement. “However, the current lease is at its end of term, and the increased rent that would be required to stay in the location makes it economically impossible for us to extend the lease.”

It has been a bumpy year for Barnes & Noble, the country’s largest book chain, with 720 stores. Sales and store traffic have suffered as the book business has shifted online; Amazon has held its early lead in the e-reader war; and early this month, Barnes & Noble put itself up for sale and is now in the midst of a battle for control of the company with Ronald W. Burkle, the billionaire investor.

Read more http://alturl.com/io3xc

08/12/2010

Booksellers’ Evolving Strategies

Filed under: booksellers,bookstores,digital books,physical books — gator1965 @ 2:11 pm

Picture this: You’re walking down the aisles of a bookstore looking at the vast shelves of books, stopping to pull one of interest down for a closer look, touching it, smelling the newness of it, flipping the pages and reading sections, holding it in your hands…Ahhh, you decide, this is the one I want…

Are these simple moves and stimulating teasers to your senses blowing away, soon to be Gone With The Wind ?

Julie Bosman of the New York Times writes an incisive piece examining the rapidly changing atmosphere of bookstores and booksellers’ changing strategies to stay in business:

In the movie “You’ve Got Mail,” Tom Hanks played the aggressive big-box retailer Joe Fox driving the little bookshop owner played by Meg Ryan out of business.

Twelve years later, it may be Joe Fox’s turn to worry. Readers have gone from skipping small bookstores to wondering if they need bookstores at all. More people are ordering books online or plucking them from the best-seller bin at Wal-Mart.

But the threat that has the industry and some readers the most rattled is the growth of e-books. In the first five months of 2009, e-books made up 2.9 percent of trade book sales. In the same period in 2010, sales of e-books, which generally cost less than hardcover books, grew to 8.5 percent, according to the Association of American Publishers, spurred by sales of the Amazon Kindle and the new Apple iPad. For Barnes & Noble, long the largest and most powerful bookstore chain in the country, the new competition has led to declining profits and store traffic. After the company announced last week that it was putting itself up for sale, Leonard Riggio, Barnes & Noble’s chairman and largest shareholder, who has declared his confidence in the company’s future, hinted that he might make a play to buy the company himself and take it private.

For readers, e-books have meant a transformation not just of the reading experience, but of the book-buying tradition of strolling aisles, perusing covers and being able to hold books in their hands. Many publishers have been astounded by the pace of the e-book popularity and the threat to print book sales that it represents. If the number of brick-and-mortar stores drops, publishers fear that sales will go along with it. Some worry that large bookstores will go the way of the record stores that shut down when the music business went digital.

“The shift from the physical to the digital book can pick up some of the economic slack, but it can’t pick up the loss that is created when you don’t have the customers browsing the displays,” said Laurence J. Kirshbaum, a literary agent. “We need people going into stores and seeing a book they didn’t know existed and buying it.”

Read more http://alturl.com/b33s3

07/13/2010

Censorship – Is America a Free Country or Not?



A bad Massachusetts law (Massachusetts? I don’t believe it!) may spur self-censorship by bookstores. The law, that went into effect yesterday, would severly restrict constitutionally protected speech RE anything that “could” be harmful to minors.

Isn’t everything about real life harmful to minors without adult-instilled values, teachings and guidance! Parants don’t seem to want to take time with their kids today and teach them about the realities of life, they’d rather just keep them in the dark and censor everything from their fragile view and learning…They can’t handle the truth!…Pure BS. Children are much smarter than you think.

Anyway, this report is from the American Booksellers Association (ABA), who together with others, filed suit against the state of Massachusetts to block the censorship law:

On Tuesday, July 13, a coalition including the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), Harvard Book Store, and Porter Square Books filed suit to block a broad Massachusetts censorship law that bans constitutionally protected speech on the Internet on topics such as contraception and pregnancy, sexual health, literature, and art.

The law, Chapter 74 of the Acts of 2010, signed in April by Gov. Deval Patrick, went into effect on Monday. It imposes severe restrictions on the distribution of constitutionally protected speech on the Internet and would make anyone who operates a website or communicates through a listserv criminally liable for nudity or sexually related material, if the material can be considered “harmful to minors” under the law’s definition, said Media Coalition. In effect, it bans from the Internet anything that may be “harmful to minors,” including material adults have a First Amendment right to view.

Violators can be fined $10,000 or sentenced to up to five years in prison, or both.

“The risk of five years in prison or a $10,000 fine will certainly have a chilling effect on booksellers with websites that describe their books available online or in a store,” said Chris Finan, president of ABFFE, a member of Media Coalition. “Most bookstores are small businesses, and it is very likely that booksellers will try to avoid problems by engaging in self-censorship.”

Other plaintiffs in the suit against state attorney general Martha Coakley and Massachusetts district attorneys are the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, the Association of American Publishers, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the Photographic Resource Center, and licensed marriage and family therapist Marty Klein.

Since there is no way for websites to determine the age of an Internet browser and no way to block Internet users from Massachusetts regardless of the location of the originating website, Media Coalition said, “The law threatens Internet users nationwide and even worldwide. The suit seeks to have the law declared unconstitutional and void on its face, and to enjoin the state from enforcing it, on the basis of the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, and the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.”

“While this Act may have been motivated by the desire to protect children from sexual predators on the Internet, its effect is much broader,” said John Reinstein, legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Its inevitable effect, if permitted to stand, is that Internet content providers will limit the range of their speech. There are no reasonable technological means that allow Internet users to ascertain the age of anyone who might access their online communications and then restrict access for minors.”

“Courts have repeatedly rejected laws that lead to this sort of self-censorship,” said Michael Bamberger of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP, general counsel of Media Coalition and counsel in the case. “We should have adequate safeguards to protect children, but those safeguards cannot unreasonably interfere with the rights of adults to access materials protected by the First Amendment.”

If the law is struck down, the groups said, it would not limit the state’s ability to prosecute obscenity, child pornography, speech intended to entice minors into inappropriate activity, or harassing speech.

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: