Because, really, I need to bang my head against a wall yet again.
1) You are not competing with one another for readers.
Stop thinking of the TV model, where — once upon a time — three national networks actually competed for viewers because there were no VCRs, DVRs, or Internet to time-shift their programs that ran simultaneously. People do not read Simon & Schuster or Doubleday or Random House. They read writers. If I read Ken Bruen right now, it doesn’t mean I can’t read Christopher Fowler later. One book does not cause me to “miss” another book, as watching a program on ABC once made me miss a program on CBS.
2) The only time you compete with one another is for talent.
You let yourselves be suckered into book auctions to prove this. You still prove this by offering best-selling talent ridiculous contract deals that are going to blow up in your face within the next two years. That talent can cut their own deals now with other companies that are hungrier than you.
3) You are competing these days for attention.
Here I am on the Internet, instead of reading a book. Here you are, reading this instead of a book. Gotcha. But it’s not just the Internet, it’s music, movies, what’s left of TV, and it’s especially videogames. Videogames, in fact, are not your competition — they are your enemy. They are stealing away your future customers. How are you going to entice them back?
4) Bookstores and distributors are no longer your customers.
Tower Records, Blockbuster Video — that’s the future of bookstores. You now have to reach readers, the final customer standing, directly. The traditional distance between you and readers is disappearing. Instead of dealing with this new closeness, you’re letting Amazon, Sony, Google and — too soon — Apple step in as new intermediaries. This is suicidal. Even Fox and NBC realized this and created Hulu to battle both Apple and Google (YouTube). What are you doing?
5) Technology companies are out to rob you blind.
Amazon, Sony, Google, Apple are the new four kingdoms. Who knows Simon & Schuster, Random House, Doubleday, et al? No one. Ask anyone, “Who published The DaVinci Code?” and they’ll say, “Dan Brown.” The technology companies are counting on your past — and continued — complacency, lack of technical know-how, lack of focus and vision, and brand invisibility to strip mine you into oblivion. Google is stealing your future: metadata. Fight back.
**standing up and cheering for this post** Well said.
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You just proved your own point since Doubleday is part of RH and not even a standalone division anymore. Mostly agree but hold out more hope for bookstores, they play a more important role for readers than Blockbuster (*shudder*) ever played for movie buffs.
Publishing “consolidated” so much since the 1970s, I don’t know which is part of which any longer. And like most of the reading public, I do not care who they are.
I think, as a publisher, I would welcome the opportunity to sell my books on iTunes. The rumor is Apple would take a 30% cut and I would keep the 70%. No credit card processing fees, no returns, no printing costs, and no sale of used books. This sounds like a good place to be.
Clive, why not think bigger and more direct? Sure, use iTunes but why not focus on direct sales to your readers?
What worth is a retail site if no one knows who you are? Personally, I’d focus on the content and marketing. Then direct sell the reader. Bye bye distributor and retailer.
Time for publishers to get serious and start hustling for direct sales.
Chris Bates Said: “Time for publishers to get serious and start hustling for direct sales.”
My reply, as a small independent publisher, is:
I do not want to set up a server that would deal directly with the reader. I do not want to set up a merchant account to handle credit card payment. I do not want to deal with support should something go wrong with the download. I do not want to deal with file formats or DRM issues.
Also I think that being associated with iTunes and Apple, Inc. would go a long way to establish trust in the reader. I would expect more traffic to my publications through iTunes than through my company web site. The 30% that Apple would charge me to not have to deal with all these aspects seems very reasonable.
It all depends on the size of the publisher. I can see not wanting to deal with the issues you’ve mentioned. Letting Apple handle that for 30% makes sense. Just don’t forget to market the hell out of it *outside* iTunes otherwise no one will hardly know it even exists.
This is a great post. I’ve been mulling it over for a few days, but I’m still stuck on point 4 trying to figure out what you were trying to say. Tower Records and Blockbuster Video are (*were* is more appropriate?) to record labels and studios what bookstore are to publishers. Your point was that bookstores are going the way of these dying giants? Or was it something else?
I think you might have part of the answer to the future of the bookstore in point 3 regarding attention. I was reminded of the discussion over one of your previous posts earlier last month (https://ebooktest.wordpress.com/2009/12/06/quote-of-the-day-kathy-sierra/).
In fact, I’d go so far as to propose that perhaps video games aren’t the enemy, but perhaps part of the solution. I’ll be bold and say that future bookstores might *be* the videogame, the TV, or the cinema, just as easily as they might be the Internet or a dedicated bookseller.
Of course, here I have in mind transmedia (but not just transmedia), and I think the future holds a way to make transmedia experiences more seamless. If I watch Time After Time, and want to learn about H.G. Wells or read his stories, why should I have to go to a bookstore or to Amazon to get them? Why can’t that be integrated into my experience of the movie? Let’s say I come out of the cinema after Watchmen, why do I have to go to a bookstore to buy the graphic novel? Why can’t I do it there? If not physically (I know, it’s a distribution problem) then why not on my digital reader? [I know, I’ve already read the novel before going to see Watchmen, but perhaps that wouldn’t be true of *every* film.]
Now games are a little more problematic. If I am playing Assassin’s Creed, and I’d like to read related stories about the Crusades or if I’m playing Call of Duty, I might like stories about WWII missions. Why should I have to go to a bookstore to get them? Why should I have to go to amazon.com? Why shouldn’t I be able to do it *within the game* or at least within the game environment (i.e. on my game console or other playing device)?
I’m not talking about product placements here, I’m talking about being able to explore related content (in whatever form) from whatever starting point I choose.
The future bookstore isn’t a bookstore at all, it’s a media store, and it will *be* everywhere.
Yes, bookstores go bye-bye like Tower and Blockbuster. Barnes & Noble is trying to avoid that fate, but with all the stabbing the Nook has gotten, they might have hurt themselves more than helped.
As for — let me coin a term here — globbing all information into/onto everything else, that’s the idea behind this post:
You’ve brilliantly taken it one step further, which is really, really, really genius!
You’re right. I remember. That post on smart ebooks is the right one.
As a video game lead designer I wanted our game – a tank combat simulation – to educate the gamer. I mean, not only about tanks, but also about the battlefields and history. Not only did it provide a great motivation, but also a wealth of opportunities in terms of multimedia.
I think that Strategic Simulations Inc was one of the very few companies which dedicated some budget to historical booklets.
If you consider gaming communities like air combat, there is enormous documentation available online and in bookstores.
Just to illustrate my personal situation, I have thousands of books dedicated to tank combat.
I think that video games could be a fantastic way to draw people back to reading.
Just an observation – I’ve read more bestselling books since I discovered the Kindle app for my iTouch in the last few weeks than I ever would have w/o it – why? Because it is so easy & inexpensive to go out and get newly available books. This is the way of the future – publishing houses need to wake up, or they will be like another dinosaur moving towards extinction – the newspaper.