Sandy Hall, a teen librarian from Hawthorne, New Jersey, posted A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT to the Swoon Reads site in November 2013. Within weeks, the manuscript was rated “Five Hearts” by the Swoon Reads Community and considered to be one of the most “Swoonworthy” on the site. This brought it to the attention of Jean Feiwel, Publisher of Swoon Reads, and the rest of the Swoon Reads Board. One e-mail and two phone calls later, Sandy Hall signed her first book deal for World rights.
Trade publishers pine for bookstores. Part of this is nostalgia, but part of this is an awareness that their businesses were built for one ecosystem and another one is evolving before their eyes. People may clamor for print (which would reinforce the publishers’ historical position), but the marketplace is increasingly becoming reluctant to provide it.
The simple truth is that with one exception, every link in the value chain must be profitable or the entire chain breaks. Bookstores are breaking and are taking the entire chain along with it. Amazon’s hands are outstretched to receive the new customers, to play its dominant role in the new ecosystem.
The one exception? Authors. Most authors don’t now and have never been able to live on the proceeds of their work. A few do, and do so spectacularly. That spectacle draws authors in: it’s not the prospect of a good and interesting job but the chance to win the lottery that makes a writer out of a normal human being. When we express regret at the passing of the old print paradigm, don’t shed a tear for the authors. Our sympathies should be with the booksellers, who held it all together.
Easily the smartest piece I’ve read so far this year. What’s more I think it’s so good it’ll hold that title until the end of the year too. This just a flavour:
I don’t believe that B&N has fully tuned into the economics of working in a network environment. For all the talk of the democratization of the Internet and the Long Tail, network economies tend to be winner-takes-all. Amazon is fast approaching a position where it becomes a virtual monopoly like other tech giants before it — Microsoft with Windows and Office, Facebook with social networking, Google for Web search, and Apple (through iTunes) for music consumption. All of these monopolies reach a plateau at some point, where other products and services begin to restructure the paradigm (e.g., the role of Cloud computing and mobile telephony in eroding Windows’ base), but while the party lasts, it is one heck of a profitable ride. It is far more urgent for B&N to prevent Amazon from reaching that point than it is for B&N to strive to achieve that point itself. B&N should be hell-bent on destroying the e-book paradigm, not on trying to control it.
Great post by Dan Blank on publishing and the Godfather!
One interesting example, as usual, is Apple. They created entire economies around their products that encouraged new companies and new products to come into being. Their App Store is indicative of this – it is a new form of marketplace. Apple even designs their gadgets with tons of room for third-parties to develop accessories for them, such as iPhone cases. It’s as if Apple deliberately designs products that are easily scratched or shattered, and offers incredibly poor cases of their own, specifically so that third parties can offer “solutions” and inventive cases and accessories.