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.