Some thoughts on Mike Shatzkin’s thoughts (part one)

Eoin Purcell

Mike Shatzkin* is clever
If you doubt that, read some of this article [hat tip: Joe Wikert's Kindleville]. There are so many great ideas there that I almost don’t know where to start.

But I have to because it is so interesting
And two do stand out as being very interesting because one is a trend that seems to be emerging in Ireland and the other is relevant to news heard just a few days ago:

4. Publishers will start acquiring specialized Web sites to get content for their books and to target niche audiences. By year-end, every major publisher will need to have an understanding of how to put a value on Web sites, because the old measures—namely, sales and profits—won’t necessarily be relevant and because the acquisitions will be smaller than what the companies would normally consider. The process will be similar to acquiring books, requiring a bit of imagination to see how the deals will pay off.

5. Christmas 2008 will be the first one in which sales of customized books, enabled by the Internet and print-on-demand, will become substantial. Make-your-own books have been creeping into public consciousness for a couple of years: Apple has made it easy to produce one-off picture books and author-services sites like lulu.com have enabled author-generated books for some time. Travel book publishers have played with the concept. What is new is that technologies like SharedBook are moving make-your-own and assemble-your-own into consumer areas like food and sports. So far, this is outside the mainstream of the book business, but consumers will buy enough of these to create interest among publishers and online booksellers.

4. Is an interesting one
And clearly true. In Ireland alone: Overheard in Dublin, Ice Cream Ireland, Twenty Major and Head Rambles have been tapped for content.

I have good reason to believe there are a few more to come over the next few months. Some I am interested in and hope to put under contract and others that I am sure rival publishers will contract. Although this isn’t exactly the same notion, it does I think touch on it.

I wonder though will G&M actually acquire OverheardinDublin eventually? Should they? It has already generated retail sales of €473,556.37. Even allowing a 60% discount that means the books have earned G&M around €190,000.00 Assume a decent royalty rate of between 10% and 15% Net Receipts and the pay-out is Between €19,000.00 and €28,500.00.

Would it have been worth €50,000 to buy the site and hire its authors, financing the roll out of new products based on each of Ireland’s major cities (and perhaps a few county based ones too: Overheard in Kerry anyone?). I don’t know. If I was them I think I would risk it but that’s me. It would be a fascinating experiment though!

5. has worried me for a while
And I have written about it before too. I suspect there will not be a huge call on this in Ireland but I know that several friends and relatives have already had photo-books printed and I have also used Moo.com though it is less about publishing (not that the validation it provides for other self publishing forms is not important).

I cannot add much to the debate except to say that there is no reason why Irish Publishers cannot hit this area hard. After all, we could sign agreements with Blurb.com or Lulu.com or even Moo.com (or any POD Publisher) for access to their efficient and cheap single unit printing and deliver individually tailored books at higher prices to customers at will. Maybe someone will this year.

UPDATE: Random House have done a deal with SharedBook!

I’d like to see some experiments
Eoin

* Or read this which I linked to before.

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