Anyway, here are some recent changes in publishing:
- Publishing companies are endangered. Many companies like my own have either already transitioned or are transitioning from being publishing companies to becoming media companies. In 2000, I worked for F&W Publications; now, I work for F + W Media. The company is doing fine, but we've changed the way we do business. This is happening industry-wide with some print-heavy companies even abandoning print completely and offering digital-only products and services.
- Digital readers are selling like hot cakes. Whether it's Wal-Mart carrying iPads or Kindles breaking sales records for Amazon or Nooks dominating Barnes & Noble, digital readers are gaining momentum at the speed of light. And guess what?
- e-Readers and digital books is where the growth is. That's right! A recent survey illustrated that owners of e-Reader devices actually buy more books than the average reader. Anecdotally, I've heard this from many e-Reader owners myself. So it makes sense that digital is the fast approaching future, especially when you consider that...
- Brick and mortar bookstores are having trouble. June reports showed Barnes & Noble with a 51% increase in Web sales and 3% decrease in store sales. Joseph-Beth files for Bankruptcy and has to shutter some stores. Books-A-Million reports a $1.7M third quarter loss this year. Meanwhile, Borders is closing stores in an attempt to stay in business. It's not hard to imagine the extinction of the brick and mortar bookstore.
- Writers need to loosen their grip on a dream of making it into bookstores. Sure, writers should continue trying to write bestsellers and quality manuscripts, but brick and mortar bookstores may not even exist in another 5-10 years, since everything is going digital.
- Writers should be flexible and innovative in how to deliver content. That's right, I called it content. Whether it's nonfiction, fiction, poetry or something completely different, it's still content. And maybe a printed version of it will only serve the author's ego, while not fulfilling the needs of today's audience, who may want it as an iPhone or Droid app, Kindle download, YouTube broadcast, blog post, or any number of other ways.
- Writers who hold onto the old dreams will be very uncomfortable in the near future. If they're not already uncomfortable, they'll soon feel what all the brick and mortar bookstores are feeling: hopelessness and despair in the face of change. Those willing to adapt will have an easier time of things.
- Newer writers need to lead the charge on new technologies. If you don't completely comprehend and understand the new technologies, don't worry; after all, no one else does either. The time is right for experimentation and innovation. And the great thing about this is that it levels the playing field for all writers. Seize the day and make a name for yourself.
- Your potential audience is still hungry for the same things. They still want information, entertainment and engagement. That will never change, whether we're drawing mammoths on cave walls, carving stone tablets or viewing videos on our smartphones.
Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer
Here are a few other posts that may interest you:
- Twitter Cheat Sheet for Writers, in which I give a refresher/intro lesson on using Twitter
- Blogging Tips for Writers, in which I share some tips and encouragement for writers new to blogging
Not free, but worth checking out are:
Good stuff Robert! I wish I was an ereading fan but I just don't like the feel ofte kindles and such. Now if the ipAd was cheaper.. I can see storefronts going away though. I already don't feel the urge to do poetry readings at bookstores as much. Open mikes are way better :)
That's just sad. But I think the bookstores will make a comeback, by-and-by. People will miss the whole experience. I also truly don't want to even think about the loss of feeling the pages, the scent, spines lined up on bookshelves, the sound of pages turning, etc. Say it ain't so, Robert!
I think you are only seeing part of the picture, as are the publishers.
I sell many books, and do best with paper backs. However, I learned long ago that online marketing is by far the best way to attract readers, but if you then offer them a paper back your sales will more than double.
So to summarize: The marketing process for ebooks is vastly superior, but the perceived value of ebooks and in fact the demand is far less. Just go for the best of both worlds with online marketing for a paper back book.
Marie, bookstores aren't dead yet, but it's hard to imagine them surviving too long as corporate entities. Over time, I think this could be an opportunity for local bookstores to take the power back as far as the brick and mortar bookstore goes. Only time will tell though.
Jess, I still love to get lost in a book I can hold, but I have a feeling these eReaders are only going to get better and better. I mean, they've already come a very long way in the past 10 years. And yeah, poetry readings in bookstores often doesn't make sense, since so few bookstores even carry a decent selection of poetry.
Oh, I agree, Colin.
That's why I emphasized the trouble with brick and mortar bookstores. Printed books will continue even if the physical stores disappear, but they'll be sold online and delivered by online stores, such as Amazon.com, BN.com, and publisher websites.
Books won't disappear from stores completely either--even if bookstores go extinct. The Walmarts and grocery stores will probably still have shelf space reserved, as will the specialty stores.
thanks Robert, I still have not picked which reader I want so I'm still using paper.
now I'm off to see Jane
As a reader, I still haven't bought an e-reader yet. I love the look of a little library inside my house. I'm old fashioned that way, I guess.
As a writer, I have been one of the last hold-outs on submitting to e-zines, but this past year I gave up the need to want to see my work in print. I still love it that way and prefer it that way, but in some ways e-zines are better. I have had two long poems published in an e-zine this year that may have been rejected before due to space, which is a direct relation to expense 0f printing. But beside those two poems, most of my acceptances this year have come from e-zines. I'm officially on board.
As a bookstore customer, I buy most books online now. For me the thing that is nice about going into a bookstore is the browsing aspect. I will be very sorry to see that go away. Sure, you can still browse on Amazon, but it's not the same thing. Not even close. Maybe that's what online bookstores need to focus on next?
Joshua, I think improving the browse-ability is definitely something more online retailers have been trying to improve. But it's never going to be completely the same.
I love print (my home is filled with books and boxes filled with books), but the technology (and money) are going in a different direction.
Hello Robert, Interesting that so many of the folks wouldn't use the e-readers because they like the feel of the book.
I love my Kindle, and I still do read paper books from my library. The huge advantage an e-reader gives you, is that you can carry it everywhere and pick amongst your entire library for the book you feel like reading right now.
Good points in your article there, quite thought provoking!
Good points, Deepali. Part of such comments may just be a "Green Eggs and Ham" argument. Once more people try it, I think they'll find they like it. I've seen many people convert over the past year or two.
As a former bookstore employee and current librarian, I've seen both sides of the e-reader issue. Even though I still rely mostly on paper for my material(e-readers are so darn expensive!), I actually feel extremely optimistic about a world filled with e-readers. I think that books, for people who don't consider themselves "readers", often hold a stigma around them. People who aren't used to the traditional experience of reading come into a bookstore or library get intimidated by the shelving, the staff, among other things. But being able to buy a book from Amazon in your living room opens up reading to a whole group of people who might have been missing out. The new format, I think, equals a new start for a lot of people who have been left in the cold by traditional reading experiences.
I also happen to think that Twitter and blogging are the greatest things to happen for poetry in hundreds of years. But I could write a whole (e) book about that. :-)
Good point, Marissa. While there are many who feel right at home in a bookstore or library, there are many others who feel the complete opposite. I believe e-reader prices will continue to fall as more people own them (like all technology).
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