Don Linn

Bait ‘n’ Beer | A blog about books, publishing and their intersection with technology. Among other things.

Don’s right on the money here and it plays nicely into the theme I was getting at with my last link too. Read this and think about these things after Christmas:

For example, it’s great to have new discovery tools, but for better or worse, actual book sales (both print and digital) still rely on identifiers and other metadata to facilitate an actual transaction. Subscriptions and rentals require the ability not only to ingest and display titles and the accompanying metadata, but also to serve content in multiple formats, to interface with accounting and royalty systems and to provide a data mining tools for publishers, among other things.

Direct-to-consumer businesses, both on the sales side and on the self-publishing side require skills not typically found in book publishing businesses, including customer acquisition, understanding the lifetime value of customers/users, customer service and the ability to deal with many small transactions rather than a relative handful of larger orders from more traditional wholesale and retail customers.

via Bait ‘n’ Beer | A blog about books, publishing and their intersection with technology. Among other things..

Publishers, Stop Being Craven, Forge Your Own Future

For some time there has been a funny dichotomy in the publishing industry worldwide.

On the one hand publishers have decried the growing influence of powerful tech companies from outside the industry. Google, Amazon, Apple all fall into that category (Amazon aside from being an impressive online retailer is also an amazing tech company). They are feared and despised both as huge outside firms with enormous capabilities and cash compared with publishers and also as companies driving the industry in a direction it wasn’t keen on going.

On the other hand, various parts of the industry have gushed about the latest moves by these companies, Apple’s launch of the iPad as a media’s saviour, Google EBooks as a game changer or now, Google’s One Pass as a way to beat Apple’s new and restrictive trading terms for content bought in App by consumers.

Perhaps the only exception to this has been Amazon who, despite being one of the most innovative and reader friendly companies in the business, has been routinely lambasted. Even it’s clever and effective popularization of ebooks and ereading was seen as a BAD thing. Amazon, it seems, can do no right!

Well I’m sick of it. I tired of hearing the industry complain and point one minute then jump up and down in happiness at the anticipation of NEW things SAVING content the next. I’m tired of bad strategy decisions prompted by poorly thought out positions. I’m really bored with people arguing about why this or that needs protection and honestly I don’t care what Apple does next.

Lots of sensible people have been talking about what publishers should be doing to make their OWN way towards a sustainable future. Mike Shatzkin has written about it, so has Brian O’Leary, Don Linn and Kassia Krozser, many, many others have too. But none of it seems to impact the mainstream discussion.

  • Here’s a simple truth: the web (in particular digital distribution of content) is undermining the existing economic model for publishing
  • A second: the author is gaining power vis-a-vis the publisher
  • A third: the existing system cannot persist, the parts of the industry that don’t change, will fail
  • And a last one: YOU are responsible for your own future and it’s time you stopped waiting for someone else to make it happen

Digital content WILL dominate the future*. You don’t have to like that, but you DO have to accept it. When you accept that you’ll begin to see that the systems behind publishing need to change rapidly or else you need to create a new organisation to work within the new rules (and economic realities).

It’s time for the industry to stop worrying about Apple, Amazon and Google. It is time for the industry to just forget about all of them and to decide how it is going to bring stories to readers in a way that keeps it relevant, interesting and hopefully profitable or else to decide that it is going to grow old and die gracefully. In either case, I’m pretty sure it’s time to shut up and do it.

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*By that I don’t mean print will go away, it won’t, but just as letters have been superseded by email, phone calls and text messages, it will become less important. It will though, have a fascinating and interesting future and it may well be that it’s where your future lies if you decide to pursue certain strategies, but that is YOUR decision.

Go Read This | Absolutely. (Not) | Bait ‘n’ Beer

There is much to be learned from this short post! Like why you need to think about what digital means for you and your situation!

Does anyone really think Simon & Schuster’s problems and opportunities are the same as Penguin’s (to say nothing of Unbridled Books’ or Coffee House Press’s)?  Are McGraw-Hill’s the same as Wolters Kluwers’? As The New York Times’? Should an indie bookseller in Madison adopt the same plan as one in Brooklyn and should either of them try to mimic Barnes and Noble or Amazon?

Of course nobody believes those things but you wouldn’t know it from reading about us in the mainstream press, in the trades, in blogs or on Twitter. Scare headlines, sweeping generalizations and bold assertions (generally unsupported by even the most scant data) are what we talk and argue about.

Our industry is complex, nuanced and undergoing change at an increasing rate. If we should have learned anything in the past year, it’s that every time we’re Absolutely Right, we can be pretty confident of being wrong.

via Absolutely. (Not) | Bait ‘n’ Beer.

Go Read This | Beyond Here There Be Dragons | Bait ‘n’ Beer

I thinK I have by accident stumbled across an pretty current topic for my TOC Frankfurt talk in October.

There are a few publishers who get this and do, in fact, have the people and systems to have a decent chance of pulling it off. Most that I can think of, Harlequin excepted, have their roots in the magazine business where these skills are like mother’s milk. Amazon certainly understands it as well.

While you’re busy building your community, don”t forget the object of the exercise is to make money from its members. Otherwise, you’re in Dragon Country.

via Beyond Here There Be Dragons | Bait ‘n’ Beer.

Go Read This | Let’s Talk About Books, Bay-bee | Bait ‘n’ Beer

Don Linn reminds us that it’s ALL ABOUT THE BOOKS:

Those of you who know me are aware that I seldom gush over anything, but allow me to gush over this fine literary novel. I hesitate to use that term since (a) for some, it implies the preciousness or elitism along the lines of the current Franzen-Stein masturbatory frenzy and (b) this book has all the adventure and excitement of a Jack London story, which I’d hardly characterize as exclusively literary. But the writing and the stories are masterful, the characters (and I include the Lake as a character) are as fully drawn as in the most literary of novels. It’s a stunning debut from a Minneapolis native.

via Let’s Talk About Books, Bay-bee | Bait ‘n’ Beer.