Thursday, December 29, 2016

Another E-Publisher is Down - Thoughts on the single approach sales model

On Dec. 28th, Romance Writers of America sent out an email to its members with the information that one more e-publisher just went under. All Romance E-Books is officially closing in 2 days. IN this case, the authors are left with some difficult decisions because of the way the closing is happening. Many of these authors will likely be facing months of legal battles to get unpaid royalties and so forth.

I am bringing this up, not to address the issue of the payment situation. This is bad. What I do want to address is what I see potentially happening in the future with many publishers and lines that focus exclusively on the e-book only model. I am simply afraid that taking a single publishing approach is not the way to go. Publishing only in e-book format, or publishing only in print format is eliminating a huge population of readers one way or another.

When e-book publishing really came out, we saw a continual media blitz of how the number of books available in e-book format was rising dramatically. For those who really bought into the e-book formula, they saw this as a sign that things were shifting. What I do believe many failed to recognize or consider in this model was that many of the traditional publishers were simply launching their books in BOTH print and e-book format at the same time, thus causing the meteoric rise in those sales.

What these publishers also realized is that they were able to tap into BOTH markets when a book was released. Readers could choose what format they were really interested in and everyone benefited. Some authors who did really well in print, saw the e-book sales as more of a little "icing on the cake." Those who did really well in the e-book sales approach saw the same with the print sales. They could now bring those books to conferences and be able to sell a few every now and then.

But here is what worries me. Many of the traditional publishers started making moves to either adding e-published only lines, or shifting some of their traditional published books to e-format only. Although the work going into the book prior to the release of the book was essentially the same and cost the same amount, "printing" the book became a great cost saving model. No more print runs that just sat in warehouses. However, this approach might not have been the best approach.

Many of these authors are now seeing a decline in sales simply because they have lost a group of readers - those who prefer the print books.

I do believe there will also be an effect of all of these moves to a single approach models. When these happened in the past for publishing, we saw a decline in book stores. No, I am not saying this was the 100% reason because we do know the entire market for EVERYTHING declined around 2008 with the housing bubble, but it did play a role. I see the same thing potentially happening with the television and movie industry. How many people out there are dumping their cable companies and just "streaming" their favorite TV show? What will happen when a company such as Netflix goes under? Netflix is finding the success now simply because there are They are just hoping these people will stay with the program. If not, that gamble is not going to pay off.

We see this in a lot of other businesses. When a company just offers one item or one type of product, the longevity of that company just is not there. We have a store in my hometown that is attempting to take the European model of just selling one product - cheese. Now, in Europe, this works because right along the same street consumers also have a butcher, a vegetable stand, a bakery and so forth. Our famous Pike Place Market in Seattle can get away with this model because they too have other shops around the smaller ones offering variety. This store here in Puyallup has a pub on the right of them and a hearing aid supply store on the other. What do they sell? High end cheese. I pass that store on a daily basis and I am lucky to find one person in that store over a week.

I do believe that publishers might wish to revisit how they did things in the past. The single approach sales model doesn't necessarily work. If the concern is the number of books in the first print run was too high, then reduce that number. This doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure things out. By giving the readers out there a choice, they will buy the books. I am confident of that.

No comments:

Post a Comment