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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06/21/2010

Physical Books and Ebooks Are Not a Zero-sum Game



The hardcover, printed book will never go away…Too many people, from all demographics, enjoy them and want them around…Just that simple.

More news on indie booksellers from an article by Judith Rosen for Publishers Weekly:

Optimism greeted a presentation by former Perseus Books CEO-turned-bookseller Jack McKeown at last month’s BEA. He was discussing a survey that looked at how independent booksellers can recapture what McKeown calculates is $260 million a year in “leakage” (missed business) as well as examining the impact of e-books on an independent’s business. Booksellers like Robert Sindelar, managing partner of Third Place Books in Lake Forest and Ravenna, Wash., found it “reaffirming” to hear statistics that confirm what he and other bookstore owners feel in their gut—that book buyers want to shop in independents and that physical books and e-books are not a zero-sum game. “Out of the people who have been keeping us in business,” said Sindelar, “their habits don’t seem like they’ll be changing dramatically.”

The data from the survey, conducted in April, can be viewed at Verso Advertising (www.versoadvertising.com/beasurvey). It reflects a third drilling down (after two earlier studies) of the buying habits of those 18 and older based on 9,300 respondents from a pool of 110 million Internet users across 5,100 Web sites. Subsequent surveys will be conducted quarterly. At the ABA’s Winter Institute, McKeown had discussed findings from two earlier studies that indicated that 28% of the U.S. market, or 62.4 million people, are avid book buyers who read five hours a week or more. Two-thirds, or 41 million people, are part of the boomer, silent, and Eisenhower generations. More importantly, while 27.3% of avid buyers said they prefer to shop in independents, the market share for independents, lower than 10% according to most publishers, told a different story. In the new survey, McKeown identified three factors—discount, selection, and proximity—that could bring market share in line with mindshare, or the awareness of a brand—by helping to increase the number of store visits by avid readers.

As McKeown and Verso president Denise Berthiaume ready their own bookstore, a Books & Books affiliate to open in the Hamptons on July 1, McKeown says that the surveys “if anything, accelerated our decision to open a store. That and finding a location.” The surveys also reaffirmed his belief that e-books are not a displacement technology, particularly in the short term. Avid book readers who own e-readers are splitting their purchases among print and e-books, the survey found. As for growing market share at Books & Books Westhampton, McKeown says that he and Berthiaume are giving “strong thought” to discounting based on survey data that a 15% discount could produce a 4% bump in sales overall. The other two factors—selection and proximity—McKeown plans to address virtually by going after the 12 million indie customers the survey identified who want to give their e-mail addresses to independent booksellers. McKeown is planning to market books online on behalf of all five Books & Books stores and to create newsletters specifically tailored to different types of customers.

For Sindelar at Third Place Books, the survey provided fresh impetus for creating a frequent buyer program and for discounting a broader selection of titles that better reflect the store, instead of New York Times hardcover bestsellers. However, not everyone viewed the survey data as a call to action. “We’re not making any changes based on what McKeown said,” notes Geoffrey Jennings, corporate counsel at Rainy Day Books in Fairway, Kans. “Capturing mindshare sounds attractive. It happens one customer at a time.” Jennings also questioned the notion of buying loyalty through discount.

ABA CEO Oren Teicher views the survey as a roadmap to a stable bookselling future, although he did note similarities to earlier ABA efforts under BookSense to close the gap on book buyers who identified themselves as independent book buyers but only bought four out of 10 books at an indie store. “The overarching message here,” says Teicher, “is that there are still people out there buying books and there are opportunities. In a world with doom and gloom there are ways in which our members can compete.”

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