Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


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


The Ebook and POD (publish on demand) Publishing Strategy

The new and much more economical publishing model being anticipated and envisioned is to publish the manuscript as an eBook first and publish individual downloadable eBooks when a sale is made. The publisher can also produce a limited press run of hard copies if it is anticipated that a certain number might sell out. Sustainable pricing in the eBook field would be key here to make this model come to full fruition.

The following post from the Shatzkin Files addresses this exact point head-on and I have included here for your further consideration:

‘Is the eBook and POD combo a viable publishing strategy yet?’

Posted by Mike Shatzkin on September 12, 2009 at 6:57 am

‘There’s a new publishing model afoot, which is to lead with the ebook and just print what you need. That might be POD, and it might be press runs, if you can sell out whole press runs. If the ebook becomes a substantial chunk of sales and if ebooks maintain their prices, this looks like it could be a new way to do much lower-risk publishing.

Some very smart publishing people are moving in this direction. It had been the plan of the meteoric Quartet, which has already flamed out. It is part of the plan of Richard Nash, an experienced publisher (Four Walls Eight Windows) and a budding entrepeneur. It is the model for a young and aspiring Irish publisher named Eion Purcell. And last week, announced that it would be publishing books (this is distinct from its “parent”, St. Martin’s sci-fi imprint Tor) with an ebook first and POD methodology.

Can no pressrun publishing work? That’s a subject for discussion at Digital Book World in January, but, based on an interesting post by Kassia Kroszer, one of the four principals in Quartet, I have real doubts.

Kassia’s post makes it clear that direct sales at “full margin” (meaning no cut to anybody else in the supply chain) were an important part of Quartet’s budget and plan. They figured that by sticking to niches, and the first one was going to be romance, they’d be able to build up a direct audience and avoid sharing revenues with retailers and wholesalers. Kassia points out that savvy ebook readers (who hate DRM, high prices, lack of interoperability, etc.) are willing to support their “local” publisher, knowing that more money gets to the author that way…’ Read more at

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