Tuesday, December 02, 2014

A different way to look at the publishing industries marketing efforts

It’s required reading time here at Type M again, folks! The article you’re going to read is a very interesting take on how publishers might change the marketing of their wares, taking a leaf from the fashion and luxury goods industries. It makes a lot of sense — especially if the big boys work together and manage to get all their horses back in the barn. Could that happen? Possibly. But it would require a lot of resolve. First, you can read the article by clicking HERE.

Okay. So what did you think? One publisher (Hachette) is trying to fight the Amazon dragon. If the publisher of the next Harry Potter novel or a monster breakout hit like The DaVinci Code actually said, “No discounting on this or we won’t sell it to you,” what do you think would happen? The big thing is that it has to be tried and be seen as successful before the industry as a whole would begin to jump on board. Ms Atkinson is correct that Amazon (and other big retailers) would fight back through the courts, but really, why should Stephen King’s new novel be discounted right from the start? It’s silly — and probably unnecessary. Readers, and especially the fans of King, would still pony up the money. If Amazon wouldn’t play ball, they’d lose out. Does the film industry show their latest releases at discounted prices? Hell no.

What’s not said, though, is that the publishing industry slit their own throats ages ago. Nearly every single book stocked on bookstore shelves, whether brick and mortar shops or those that inhabit cyberspace, are there on consignment. If they don’t sell, they get shipped back to the publisher. In these times of a very over-crowded marketplace, a lot of books don’t sell and are sent packing, and the time on shelves is shrinking every year.

As a business model, it’s nuts. Who were the bright lights who allowed this to happen? Couple that with deep discounts right off the publishing bat, and it’s no wonder the industry is in deep trouble.

One solution might be to allow books to be discounted, but make them completely non-returnable. So instead of the usual 40% discount, a retailer gets, say, 50% but the books are theirs. If they don’t move them, tough boogies. At this point, most of time, the only books that cannot be returned are those that are sold as remainders, and we all know how much return on the dollar those poor orphans get. The publisher loses money and the author gets nothing at all for their sale.

All publishers face a bleak future, the small houses especially. When even the big boys get squeezed heavily by giants like Amazon, it makes an already bad situation even worse. Amazon’s response, of course, will be to start publishing it’s own books even more (they’re already heavily into the e-book marketplace on that and are making inroads into the POD marketplace), but so far, the big-selling authors are still with legitimate publishing houses.

Where will it stop? Who knows. The really sad thing is that we authors, or shall I call us “creators”, should have the actual power in this business. Without us, publishers and retailers have nothing to sell. Historically, though, we have been at the bottom of the food chain, not the top.

I’d like to close by saying, buy books! Buy them from small stores, or buy them from smaller dealers online. And for heaven’s sake, buy the books we here at Type M are writing. My Roses for a Diva is a good book. Even I like it. (I usually can only see the warts in my publications.) This past year, everyone here has published something worth reading. The holiday season is a lovely time to give books.


Donis Casey said...

Elegantly stated, Rick.

Rick Blechta said...

Thanks. I've seldom been called elegant!

Eileen Goudge said...

I second all of the above. Well said, Rick.

Rick Blechta said...

I'm still waiting for some really BIG author to decide to drop the regular business model and self publish. The reaction of the major publishers would naturally be to try to scuttle the grand experiment any way they can, but if the right author does it in the right way…well, let's just say, there would be trouble in quite a few board rooms.