Friday, November 26, 2010

How a Kindle Chrismas Ate Publishers Parts 1 & 2

  They had to see this coming...er, ah... Maybe not.

  Amazon posted a late sale on TWO Kindles, for $89. Two...Hmmm? Even though most people had trouble placing an order for this WOW deal, think about how Amazon can be this clever.

  They just doubled a new reader base on Kindle by selling a now dated version for next to nothing. How this will effect holiday book sales has to have B&N and Borders reaching for a sharp knife. No one cares that Amazon will undoubtedly lose a bit of money.

  Undoubtedly, these "sale Kindles" will be directed at the children's and YA markets. Fifty buck stocking stuffers. The effect on the book sale will come through low purchases due to future choices to be made once "little Sarah or Billy" opens their gifts. They even get to buy the new download AFTER Christmas, possibly saving a bit more money.

  Is Amazon an evil genius? No, it's just good business to enhance their customer base. Will it hurt book sales this holiday season? Yes, with debut authors probably taking the brunt of the blow.

  What response will come from the publishing industry? None. The format choice being a barrier to response. Publishers that have made e-book deals on their backlists will be hurt less. Authors may make a late rush to shift to e-book before the Christmas holiday, if they haven't already.

  This is also another salvo into creating a generational evolution in e-book technology. Think not? You may want to have a look at the cell phone evolution of products. E-books are on that path right now. Our society's preference for "The Newest Model" just got another group of people to add to the future market.

  The race between traditional publishing and E-book sales is coming around the far turn. Can publishers pull a "Seabiscuit"?

  The thing publishers are missing in the e-book battle is the relationship readers have with books. They go on and on about the touch, the feel, of a printed novel in the hand of the reader and fail to see this is a two dimensional defense. Publisher talk about what they make, forgetting the author is a crucial part of a book’s core and substance.


  The onus of this battle can only be borne by publishers and authors acting together. E-books are not going away, not ever. Printed books will stay if publishers pump up the tangible connection between author and book. More interviews, appearances, reading and signing is what will win the day. Well, maybe not win, but settle a point of demarcation between e-book and print.

  Turn every printed book into an event to remember, an asset of the mind’s eye and memory. Make the e-book a “just”, the less special. Make the e-book the sundry and the print book the exceptional. Take the top 5000 authors and put them on the road. Yes, it will cost the publishing houses money, but they have to get it one day, that their tight fists are holding a diminishing asset. They prevent a firm hold on what they want to remain and when that tight fist opens to evidence only air, it will be a lasting too late.

  Whoever sold publishing on the idea that physical touch of a book will give their industry a lasting and forever energy has read Jane Eyre one too many times. Add to any sense or image, and it will imprint the mind and last a lifetime.

  Lastly, if the great publishing houses don’t think Amazon is planning to enhance their product tangibility by demanding more of authors to participate to a greater degree, they really aren’t paying attention.