The Amazon Effect (Roundtable: 5/20/10)
The Roundtable is a live, interactive webcast gathering some of the most outspoken industry professionals to debate the hottest publishing issues of the week, as being discussed in traditional media, the blogiverse and on Twitter. From celebrity book deals to eBook rights and pricing to [insert YOUR pet topic here] — if it’s related to books, it’s on the agenda.
Topic: The Amazon Effect
This episode of The Roundtable was webcast live at 1pm EDT on Thursday, May 20, 2010.
Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Dir. of Programming & Business Development, Digital Book World
Konrath makes several interesting points in explaining his decision that every publisher should take note of:
1) “I signed a print deal with a company that can email every single person who has every bought one of my books through their website, plus millions of potential new customers.” Publishers with direct connections to their readers are better equipped to compete in a digital book world than those who only sell through intermediaries.
2) “Amazon is smart, savvy, and pays attention to my suggestions. The Kindle version of Shaken is going to be released for $2.99.” Not $9.99 or $14.99, but closer to the $1.99 he had so much success with on his own.
I woke up this morning to a bunch of emails asking me why this is a significant development in publishing. How is this any different, they ask, than what Joe is already doing self-publishing his unpublished work on the Kindle?
In essence, Amazon Encore is a publisher that has picked up Joe’s mid-list series from Hyperion. They are publishing the book first as an ebook then later as a trade paperback. The difference here is that the publisher is also the largest bookstore on earth and will put their considerable promotional and marketing might behind his book. But there’s a bit more to it than that.
In other words, if James Patterson wakes up and realizes he can get even richer by dealing directly with Amazon (or Apple, or Google, or Barnes & Noble, or all of them), and cuts out his longtime publisher Little, Brown, then and only then will the game change drastically — and it will also be game over for publishing as we know it.
Amazon and other online retailers have made it incredibly easy to publish books on their servers. They give each author the ability to format books price them how the authors themselves see fit. There is certain freemarket sensibility here that is inspiring, and in a way each author becomes the proprietor of their own small business. However, I feel that the example of Konrath will inspire other, less successful and even less talented authors to publish their works online. They might see the Kindle as a bypass, a way to showcase their works that the Evil, Stupid Publishing Overlords in New York were too blind to realize are, in fact, literary masterpieces.
The announcement marks Barnes & Noble’s latest move to continue to build one of the world’s largest digital catalogs, spanning eBooks, journals, periodicals and other types of reading material. PubIt! titles will be distributed through BN.COM and Barnes & Noble’s eBookstore, which currently offers more than one million digital titles to millions of dedicated customers in-store and online.
Actually, Rhapsody and Napster – and labels – have been asking this very question since the early part of last decade. When digital music conferences were packed and billions were at stake, subscription success was almost viewed as a future truism by some. A matter of time. So many songs, so much access, how could it not make sense?
Maybe the new rule is that, if it looks good on paper, it’ll never work. If it seems like an obvious winner, maybe it’s destined to lose. But the seemingly-illogical consumer reaction can be dissected.
Twitter (as RTd by @digibookworld)
RT @jasonashlock: Konrath deal w/ AMZN is not a gamechanger, but it is a harbinger. @pablod #dbw
RT @babetteross: major authors are likely to stay with pubs to take advantage of the larger distribution/rights benefits @jasonpinter #dbw
RT @pa4culture: #DBW Pubs letting go of midlist authors – Amazon has positioned itself to scoop those authors up, utilize backlist for Kindle
RT @deegospel: Patterson’s web presence is about satisfying the reader, creating a community, which keeps him in current and wanted #dbw
RT @MissAdventuring: #dbw Healthy competition among tech and publishing will create some very interesting solutions tbd.
RT @tstcpublishing: and, as well, you have to wonder/worry about a vertical monopoly with Amazon #dbw
RT @pa4culture: #DBW In last moments @jasonpinter: 1st mention of bricks/mortar. Not liking the sustainability of B&N. @glecharles: B&N.
RT @muttinmall: Can’t count out a brand w/ 750 stores that are performing just fine. I think @glecharles is right; sales will be up. #DBW
RT @pa4culture: #DBW Good luck with figuring out who will be out in front by Jan 1. Oy. Managing the mishmash indeed.