Posted on 2013-Jul-18
In the situation where the tidal wave of eBooks and new service providers has swept across the ocean of publishing, it is hard to predict where the wind will blow. For those of you who have grown up with passionate reading habits coming in and out bookstores, the dominant presence of online vendors seems to nearly wipe out most of your local brick and mortar shops. Why? When technology literally upstaged physical shipping to wireless delivery, consumer’s behavior has changed due to their greater convenience to access the book they want at any time.
Barnes and Noble’s Future
If you have bought backlist/midlist titles before from bookstores, you know what it is like to leave home and hunt down specific titles of your great interest. Your first expectation might be the risk of being disappointed that the book you require has not been shipped or stocked. What can you do? First, you will have to play the waiting game and fill in certain forms to order the wanted book in advance. In the meantime, while being the bookstore, you are exposed to fascinating catalogues that grow in great abundance consistently.
In fact, the bookstores mushroomed to cater to reader’s curious need to read until eBook technology arrived. Regardless of the book’s popularity, the virtual storehouse can keep an unlimited stock of what readers are searching for. Imagine all existing online book vendors’ combined catalogue to be shelved physically: one bookstore could not facilitate such a giga-sized collection. The instantaneous book delivery and reception on the readers’ end seems to widen the gap between the bookstore and readers. Like any other retail experiences, online e-commerce is not a far-reaching terminology any longer when you replace the dated jargon with the store’s name (e.g. Apple, Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, B&N).
Unfortunately, the negative impact falls hard on the brick and mortar shops unavoidably due to the convenience in online payment. David Carr, the New York Times writer, presents an extensive article how Barnes and Noble might indirectly promote Amazon. Another article written by Andrew Rhomberg, Digital Book World‘s writer, questions the profitability in keeping the physical bookstore operated.
To stay relevant in a time where websites have become a must to browse, an article from Harvard Business Review suggests that B&N become a “mini-mall.” This concept is not new as Indigo from Canada has achieved a massive success in selling its eBook arm to Rakuten. Such an idea emphasizes the renovation to bring uniqueness to their customers like several mini malls are doing. There is some practical advice from the writer toward the end of the article about what B&N can do to stay afloat in this highly competitive market. Andrew wittingly concludes an arresting catchphrase “the world has moved on.”
Traditional Publishing House’s Rejection
Dig it or dis it. Robert Galbraith has become the talk of the town according to J. K. Rowling’s surprising confession and her financial success. Adam Taylor of Business Insider wrote an article to explain the Rowling impact that might be too painfully obvious or disheartening for a debut author.
Prior to the revelation, the book’s sales were modest according to The New York Times despite the positive reviews garnering praise even from the fellow thriller writer, Val McDermid. With the assumption that the book was priced north of $19.99, the book might have generated to the bank account Mr. Galbraith aka J. K. Rowling.
However, another admission from Kate Mills, fiction editor of Orion Publishing, confirms what most authors hate to hear; that is, rejection. Although rejection will remain a mystery as to why Book A should be thrown to oblivion while Book B is predicted to fare well, the brave confession got her followers’ conversation going on Twitter. For the record, the book sales skyrocket 507,000% after the book has been charmed by Rowling’s Hogwart magic.
Greater Access to the World of Indies
To echo the good synergy that several websites have reported, the petition proposed by Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) on Change.org basically needs your attention. Although the statement in the petition might be short, I believe you can research out of your curiosity why self-publishing must be recognized as a viable and profitable platform for authors rather than insignificant vicissitudes in publishing. Apart from the petition, the Open Up to Indie Authors campaign, spearheaded by Dan Holloway, will come up with a guidebook that discusses the opportunities where everyone in the book industry can harmoniously coexist and work with indie authors.
In order to sustain one business in the highly competitive market like the publishing industry, one must think out of the box. According to business analysts, there is a lot of work that can be done to avert the bookstore’s declining market share. If the showroom cannot bring in adequate funds to support the business, they must find a way to imitate the online shopping experience and integrate the system to break the limitation of physical shelved offers. For an inspiring author, you often carry the anonymous burden to hit or miss in the bandwagon full of veteran miners. J. K. Rowling’s alter ego was no exception when it came to the decision that traditional publishers had to make. Despite the ridiculously over-the-top sales percentage spike, her secretive measure of sales still indicates that a good book sells itself without the trademarked certification. It is somewhere between the lines that has drawn the readers closer to the author’s intricate narration. Having said that, I’d like to draw your attention to see what ALLi has attempted to achieve. The petition signifies the strength of self-publishers who stand together not to defy or threaten the publishing industry. They are creative souls that walk the earth and thus require the same level of recognition to work alongside their fellow peers. With regard to bookstores, they must learn from their online counterparts how customers are motivated to shell out favorite eBooks with plastic.
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