Philip goes on to conclude that Publishers have much to bring to the party. he might be right, but the core power they used to have of reaching people through distribution is now gone, the balance of power has shifted and Authors or Rights Holders have a greater ability to operate without publishers:
She told me: “Penguin accepted long ago that they didn’t have the digital rights. Of course they wanted to do it, but why would we. With a brand like ours, people are looking for the books anyway, so the publicity and marketing will happen. It also gives us greater clarity of sales, which books are selling and where. We are very lucky to have such a big brand.”
Of course the deal will be interpreted as a shot across the bows of traditional publishers. And why not? Despite the energetic way that the estate has looked after the Bond brand in recent times—including the development of the Young Bond books and the new titles written by Sebastian Faulks and the Jeffery Deaver version to come—it is unlikely that the estate would have seen an opportunity to self-publish in this way until fairly recently. It has seized the opportunity at the right time, and in a way that will allow it see closely how the market develops.
Nice post from Philip here. Personally I think the physical retail presence and access to HEAVY BOOK BUYERS and BROWSERS via that retail presence is the key to Barnes & Noble’s success with the Nook.
It’s an odd story in a way but it reinforces the idea that one of the key weapons in the future of the industry is knowing the customer OR having access to them directly. The three winners in the ebook space right now, Apple, Amazon and Barnes & Noble all have either huge databases of customer information or direct access to them in places where they part with their money, we shouldn’t miss that when thinking about this today.
Many people wrote off the Nook when it first launched in the US. The name was a bit, well, odd. It had a funny colour strip that didn’t serve much use, except to show book jackets. The e-books available weren’t cheap enough, when compared to Amazon’s overly aggressive pricing. And it had initial shipping problems, a sure-fire technology killer. It was seen as the last gasp of a dying mammal washed ashore by a particularly arch digital wave.
We neglected to look at the two key advantages it had over the Kindle. There was the innovative sharing function, which Amazon has now copied, that gave users a sense of having purchased something tangible—not just a license to read. And of course the ability to read any book for free in one of the chain’s 700 shops, making a physical connection to the shops via digital. The latter gave it something Amazon could never have.
Sara Lloyd is great and to an extent, she is on the money with this column. The problem is that she’s only right to the degree that we accept the current model is permanent.
We still have an eye to the future, of course. We still ask each other: “So . . . what do you think is the Next Big Thing?” We still geek out and ponder the impact of HTML5 on epub. We feel the need to prepare for that, but we’re feeling better and better equipped to do so.
The fear factor is abating. A sense of “business as usual, but different” is descending. Books are not being killed off. We’re simply adjusting to an additional format. Of course, this is exactly the time that we should all give ourselves a great big poke in the ribs, sit up straight and pay attention.
I tend to think it isn’t and while the book is in no danger (although it will certainly change and adapt and morph), publishers very much are. Which is why it’s nice to see here last lines:
Necessity is the mother of invention, but relaxation is the mother of a short sharp shock, so let’s not rest on our laurels. Not yet. Not for a long time
I’m a fan of publishers taking charge of their own destiny, especially when the future is so uncertain.
That said, I just don’t think publishers have the right skill sets right now to actually set prices for consumer facing products.
They need to work very hard to get those skills though, because, as long as they are setting prices without knowing what they are doing, the longer they’ll make bad decisions and probably hurt themselves in the long term.
More than three-quarters of people working in the book trade believe e-books should be priced at current street prices or less, according to early results of a FutureBook survey into digital thinking. The majority of respondents indicated that publishers are best placed to set this price, even though they don’t believe the agency model has a long-term future.
GigaOm has, I feel, a very simplistic sense of the ebook space. However, at times, that can be a very useful thing, because it sweeps away many of the assumptions that industry folks can make almost unconsciously. In this article, I think they do that pretty well.
The advent of tablets and e-bookstores dramatically lowers the barrier to entry for these kinds of writers, who would previously have had to find an agent and a publisher willing to take them on or self-publish via the web or a blog, and would have had to pay them a handsome share of any revenue as well. Now, through services like Bookbrewer and Kindle Singles, they can reach what is potentially a much larger audience, and maybe even make some money. Amazon and other e-book publishers pay authors as much as 70 percent of the revenue their books make. The e-book market as a whole continues to grow rapidly; the latest figures from the Association of American Publishers show that sales climbed 172 percent in August.