The digital era has changed how people discover their next book. It used to be you walked into a bookstore and read signs that said: Fiction, Sports, Philosophy, Local, etc., and then tunneled in from there to the jacket copy and book itself.
Modern megastore retailers are excellent at purposefully confusing their store traffic, as they know this increases the cash register ring via unexpected finds. And that is obviously one of the joys of bookstore browsing. Even though elderly customers complain when Wal-mart puts the milk in the far reaches of the store, Wal-mart knows they are forcing them to discover more in other categories as they walk about. (The thoughtful chain stores at least put benches in those distant sections.)
A similar product locator challenge occurs at supermarkets, as you gaze forlornly down the aisle. Look how much better the signs have become in the past decade, but they still only take you so far and leave many (males especially!) marching up and down the wrong aisle (path). I expect in the future digital aisle signs will improve that particular experience.
Publerati wants to make sure readers of our ebooks are as happy as possible. We realize that no matter what product one buys, you are “buying an expectation.” Reading a new author requires a certain risk, which we understand. Key to our mission is to discover new talent and bring them to audiences of both ebook readers and print publishers, plus others seeking to acquire rights. And also to help excellent new fiction from published authors find readers when the print world has given up on trying a less commercial genre such as literary fiction.
Today we added new interest descriptors on our site for the ebooks we sell to help guide readers with more information than simple categories. It is okay to say that “readers of book x will enjoy book y” and Goodreads does an excellent job of this. But even that system can leave a reader disappointed, so we feel providing meaningful tags that set more-informed reader expectations can only help in the book discovery process.
Please take a look and let us know what you think. And give some thought about the kind of descriptors you feel would help you make better choices and share them with us. Any print publishers or other rights inquiries should visit the RIGHTS section of our Website. Happy Martin Luther King Junior weekend everyone. Hope you enjoyed this post. Please share with others if you did.
There are some excellent articles coming out with year-end predictions for the changing book publishing landscape.
Personally, I think one of the more important dominos to watch within print publishing will be the Q4 results from Barnes & Noble, especially with their brick & mortar performance. If the combination of high investment in the digital Nook blends with declining performance in the core retail segment for B&N, then expect more store closings, which in turn hurts the sales performance of the top-200 print books from the Big Six. This is very similar to what happened to Kodak within the photo industry (e.g., managing the shift from print dominance and volumes via global multi-access retail to new digital competition and lower margins within the disrupted market space).
If this happens, look for Microsoft to increase its investment in the B&N Nook, especially given its own lacklustre tablet performance versus Samsung, Google, and Apple thus far. (Remember — there is room for two dominant players in any market space; after that, the pickings get tough.) This should also help good indie booksellers regain lost brick-and-mortar market share as they already have the correct (new normal?) amount of physical retail space for the future of print book volumes. The end-game for B&N may well be a spinoff.
This Web site below is an excellent aggregator of news coming from the digital publishing world. I am certain I am wrong so please read what others have to say!
Happy New Year!
Best wishes — Caleb Mason (Publerati)
I am very pleased to announce that Publerati has signed an agreement with the non-profit Worldreader Organization to provide all our ebooks for free in developing nations on their special Kindles and ordinary feature (non-smart) phones. In addition, Publerati will donate no less than 5% of our net proceeds to the Worldreader Organization to help fund their efforts.
What does this mean for ebook readers? It means that those who are lucky enough to live in nations with high literacy rates and access to e-readers, now can help support the spread of literacy to those who are less fortunate simply by reading Publerati ebooks. Every time someone who can afford to pay $2.99 for one of our ebooks does so, she/he will in turn help fund our ability to acquire, edit, and market new works of fiction that can then be made available for free in Africa, India, and elsewhere. This serves our primary mission of opening access for new fiction around the globe for both talented writers and deserving readers.
I like to think of this model as the “museum” model, whereby those who pay “admission” do so knowing they are also helping others gain free access.
Ebooks offer a new way to spread literacy given their unique digital sharing abilities. Through the efforts of people like David Risher at Worldreader, leading socially-conscious companies including Amazon and Dropbox donate the necessary technology to enable e-reading. It is then up to the authors and publishers of the world to make the content available.
Please help us help others who are less fortunate simply by buying and enjoying our fiction on ebooks. It’s a win-win. Thank you very much. Please share this on Facebook and join the conversations from around the world happening on our Facebook page.
— Caleb Mason, Founder & Publisher
Many years ago I worked in one of the better independent bookstores in Boston, called The Book Exchange, on Charles Street.
Then I went to work up the hill at Little, Brown when they were still in Boston, eventually to head off to be part of a start-up publisher and then ultimately to leave publishing altogether where I careened straight into the jaws of death of 35mm photography (and later digital mapping software at the hands of Google’s ad-supported mapping content model).
Konica was closing down 4300 or so Fotomats in the early 1990s, those funny little drive-thru huts in parking lots that were mostly bought by FedEx. It turned out that even that tiny real estate was too expensive to sustain the standalone photo business. Kodak was scrambling to catch up in digital photo to unexpected West Coast competition while sinking under the weight of all that lost 35mm film, single-use camera, and photographic paper high-margin business. And we know what happened to them.
Which begs the question: If something as mainstream as 35mm photography did not warrant a chain of tiny stores in parking lots, why would books warrant huge superstores strewn across our paved land?
I say they do not. In fact, I predict we will see many more closings of chain bookstore locations in the near term as the shift to ebooks accelerates.
But coming full circle, the excellent news in all this could be the ironic survival of the many excellent remaining independent bookstores, who have outlasted the storm from superstores and online competition. They can distinguish themselves through interesting eclectic selections and by building trust with readers looking for a local reading guide and an inspiring place to mingle with others.
Online owns the huge selection, the independent bookstores stay small enough to own the local. Superstores are actually trapped in the middle and as a result are vulnerable. Possibly they will follow the Walmart model and move into “smaller large” stores, but that is a very expensive proposition. Just look at Circuit City and CompUSA as models for that challenge. They are both gone.
As I head off for Book Expo tomorrow, which years ago was filled with many independent booksellers and independent publishers in ways not seen today, I am optimistic about positive changes as the landscape shifts.
Caleb Mason, Founder and Publisher of Publerati, will be presenting at Book Expo, Monday June 4, as part of the International Digital Publishing Forum’s Ignite! program. The program begins at 6pm.
The event will be held at the Javits Center as part of the annual Book Expo trade event.
Caleb’s presentation is titled A Better Way to Launch New Fiction Writers and draws upon his experiences in book publishing years ago before he set off bravely into the death of 35mm photography, followed by the rapid decline of packaged goods’ mapping software and paper atlases, at the hands of free maps from Google and inexpensive GPS navigators.
Please stop by if you will be attending the Show and say hello in person or feel free to reach out via Twitter or Facebook, accessed from the home page www.publerati.com and elsewhere.
Information on the International Digital Publishing Forum overall program and the Ignite! event can be found below:
Congratulations to Susan Sterling for her novel Dancing in the Kitchen, which Publerati will publish as an ebook in May/June. The following advance quote was received from Pulitzer-prize winning novelist Richard Russo yesterday:
“What a smart, elegant writer Susan Sterling is. Dancing in the Kitchen, her finely observed first novel, is a moving exploration of betrayal, not just of others but ourselves.” –Richard Russo