For all the worry and chatter in the publishing and bookselling world, Scott Karp’s post today really strikes to the heart of the current dilemma bookshops face:
I used to love bookstores — they were magical places where the whole world of information and stories was at your fingertips. But I realized today that the bookstore has begun its slow decent into obsolescence, just like every analogue media institution. The bookstore has been replaced by the Web as the place of wonder, and there’s no turning back.
The realization came as it does for most people when searching a store for a book that it turns out is just so much easie rto buy online:
I didn’t find a copy of Everything Is Miscellaneous — the inventory system suggested I try another store, where the book “might” be in stock (the system is not real time). Traveling across town for information seemed about as reasonable as using into a horse and buggy to do so.
And book publishers too
Strangely the unheralded side swipe (perhaps not even intention) at book publishers is as understated as his kicking of booksellers:
business books by truly interesting minds presenting paradigm shifting ideas have the artwork quality of fiction — they still have the power to stand on their own. Such books are rare but will probably endure longer than most business books, which are already being killed off by business blogs.
For now, I’m more than happy to visit David’s Everything Is Miscellaneous blog, where he does the one powerful thing he isn’t able to do in a book: dynamically link. Just reading several posts, I’ve already discovered other interesting blogs and interesting sites. I was able to browse topics I’m interested in, like journalism, and discover other topics of interest by browsing the tags.
Scott is explaining the forces undermining the BOOK INDUSTRY in the post and the sad part is that all of it is true.
Lots of thinking to do on this one
Amazon as publisher
Createspace has been launched by Amazon and there is M–U–C–H discussion of it.
It combines the power of a Lulu.com or a Blurb.com with Amazon retail prowess. It could be a game changer except that the cost per unit remains stubbornly high. As the Petrona blog spells out:
Amazon’s share of each sale is calculated by taking a fixed charge of $3.15 per copy, plus a charge per page ($0.02 or $0.12 per black and white or colour page, respectively), plus a percentage of the list price (30% for sales through Amazon.com). So a 100-page black and white book sold on Amazon with a list price of $25.00 would earn an author a royalty of $12.35 per sale.
If I get that right the author gets about 49.4% and Amazon the rest. For the author that is no bad deal but the 100 page books that sell at that kind of price are few and far between so the sample is a little unrealistic. A 350 page book @ $25.00 on the other hand would result in about $7.45 flowing back to the author but Amazon pocketing about $17.55. But even more realistically that book might sell for $20.00 so it would result in $3.85 for the author and $16.15 for Amazon. It is impressive capture of value on their part to be fair.
The money/success issue
I cannot decide if this is good or bad. I have previously considered the dangers Blurb and the like pose to niche publishers and feel that at that level the act as a more efficient form of self publishing. They draw borderline commercial projects out of the pool. They also ensure that self publishers can publish without getting fleeced but also do take the odd book that a publisher who specialises in limited run could have made money on.
I simply cannot make up my mind of this is big news or not. I think it is because book buyers on Amazon don’t care who published a book so long as they can get it and if there is information and good reviews a self published book is as likely to sell off it as traditionally published one.
As for the Book depository
They launched a give away! And I got one! Go there and get one if there is one left and remember it is the first of many!
Thinking long and hard
Simply described as: Tag Mirror: What LibraryThing thinks eoinpurcell is interested in this is a pretty impressive feature and one that is of enormous use to just about everyone from publishers to readers.
Check out my Tag Mirror here
There is much more in Tim’s blog post here:
Tag Mirror “holds a mirror” up to your books and to you. Instead of showing what you think about your books—what a regular tag cloud shows—it shows you what others think of them, in effect using LibraryThing’s twenty-two million tags to organize and surface interesting topics from within your own collection.** As with other tag clouds, size equals importance. When you click on a tag, you get a relevancy-ranked list of books tagged that way.
The Book Depository Updated
Its site today and it does look prettier and smoother to use. Which makes me happy as the Book Depository has become my bookshop of choice. One of the best things about the book depository is Mark Thwaite’s blog, Editor’s Corner. Mark writes great stuff and you should read it if you have any interest in books, publishing and technology.
Hidden in the Press Release
But alongside the announcement of the improved site was this gem:
“In the coming months, further enhancements to bookdepository.co.uk will go live. In the background, we are also working on a number of other fascinating projects. Personally, I’m tremendously excited about a huge Web 2.0 project we are building called BibDib [url still directs to the Book Depository homepage].
BibDib will be a massive online bibliographic database that contains information about all the world’s books AND all the writing about those books! It is a huge, and ambitious, project and one that the team here at The Book Depository is in a superb place to deliver.”
Mark described it as:
very, very editable and addable and Web 2.0-tastic!! Think world’s biggest bibliographic database meets wikipedia meets IMDB.com …
Now if you are not excited by that then I don’t know what will work! Looking forward very much to seeing what come of this. Perhaps a rival to LibraryThing for my attention?
Very Facebook’d and Stumble’d Upon today (Welcome Stumblers)
Rowling Write Again (by all accounts)
Graham Linehan has a blog (hat tip to commenters on PresentTense for the link)
TheBookseller, the industry magazine of booksellers and publishers has a nice new blog section which I think deserves a plug. Check out todays two great pieces.
Here & Here
Premonition is just not worth the effort (though has a decent enough premise), Fracture on the other hand most certainly is.