Business Strategy

News analysis and commentary on the latest ventures, business models and strategies in the digital publishing landscape.

publishers, bots, augmented reality, amazon, alexa

2016 Trend Report: What Publishers Need to Know

The Future Today Institute has created a terrific, free report summarizing key technology trends and what they mean for tomorrow. I’ve embedded the report below so you can quickly flip through it. I read the whole report and highlighted the most noteworthy elements for publishers below. That leads me (once again) to the topic...

libraries, ebooks, app, publishers, authors

Library Loans Are a Double-Edged Sword

Denmark experienced rapid growth in digital lending from libraries between 2011 and 2015. At first this was a welcome source of new revenue for publishers. But by the middle of 2015, the digital lending market had grown even larger than the commercial market for digital book sales. Similar to the New York Public Library...

bookstores, barnes & noble, data, amazon, publishers

How Franchise Book Chains Can Survive Disruption

In 2010, the well-known movie rental franchise chain Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy—a sad ending to an otherwise very successful venture that, at its peak, in 2004, had more than 9.000 stores around the world. Unfortunately, some bookstores will suffer the same fate. But which ones will they be? Bookstores face inevitable challenges and changes...

publishers, books, ebooks, readers, content

How Are You Connecting with Your Customers?

From a publisher’s point of view, the people who actually buy and read books are still mostly nameless and faceless individuals. This, despite the fact that there are plenty of opportunities for publishers to establish a direct relationship with consumers. I’m not necessarily talking about selling direct; I’m referring instead to the opportunity to...

bookstores, barnes & noble, data, amazon, publishers

Why Shop at a Brick-and-Mortar Bookstore?

Do you still shop at your local bookstore? I typically go once, maybe twice a year, and the last time for me was December 2015. This weekend, though, I made a rare summer visit to my local Barnes & Noble in search of books for my almost six-month-old grandson, Jasper. No matter how good...

indie publishers

The Global Golden Age for Independent Publishers Has Begun

A number of years ago, I predicted the publishing and bookselling industries would follow a boutique model, with the large and small and little in between. Note: this also applies to other industries, in most part due to the digital age and today’s customer. Book sales would be split between higher priced print books,...

short form content, content, amazon, kindle, audible

The Short-Form Content Resurgence

I remember the first time I heard the phrase “info snacking,” back in 2007. It was when the Kindle launched and Jeff Bezos said his newfangled device would slow the info snacking trend and enable deeper engagement with content. The Kindle platform certainly launched the ebook revolution, but it’s interesting that it didn’t halt...

book publishing, publishers, editorial, managing editor, books

Agile Publishing: Creating Better Books Through Transparency

Trade book publishing is not a complicated process. Publishers acquire the rights to publish new titles primarily through relationships with agents. Once the agreement has been signed, the process from manuscript to shipping is fairly predictable and more or less linear: Acquisition => Manuscript => Editing => Prepress => Production => Marketing => Sales...

audiobooks, amazon, audible, channels, podcasts

Amazon Extends Its Dominance with Audible Channels

Even though they’re gaining momentum, I’ve never been a big fan of audiobooks. Amazon, of course, owns the market with both Audible and Brilliance. Although it didn’t receive a lot of fanfare last week, Audible introduced one of the most interesting and long overdue services that I’ve seen in a long time. I’m talking...

What Book Publishers Can Learn from the Podcast Model

What Book Publishers Can Learn from the Podcast Model

Did you make the same mistake I did and assume that podcasts are yesterday’s platform—that interest in them has plateaued (at best) and they’re not worth thinking about today? If so, here’s a short article that might help you re-think your stance. If you’re still not convinced, have a look at the infographic in...

audiobooks, amazon, kindle, audible

How Amazon and Audible Are Pushing Audiobooks into the Mainstream

In reading DBW’s recent interview with Hugh Howey, I was surprised that he never mentioned audiobooks even though he obviously believes in the format. Howey has 37 audiobook titles on Audible.com, and he published at least 16 of them personally. Howey’s remarks about Amazon made me think about the company’s tremendous influence on the...

Publishers Need to Question Everything

My Advice to Publishers: Question Everything

I’ve given myself a few moments over the last month to look at some of the ventures I’ve been fortunate to be involved in, as well as the business plans that arrive in my email. In each case, I have instinctively tested them against basic business principles. I’ve also been reviewing my publishing businesses...

amazon, ebooks, publishers

Amazon, Ebooks and the Lack of Innovation

It’s 2016. We are landing rockets on floating platforms in the ocean. Engineers are developing high-speed transportation systems in which pressured capsules ride on air cushions facilitated by linear induction motors. A network of high-altitude Wi-Fi balloons is being designed to float on the edge of space so that everyone on the planet can...

audiobooks, amazon, audible, channels, podcasts

How One Question Can Improve Creativity and Problem Solving

If you only listen to one podcast this week, make sure it’s the one linked to here. It’s one of the most inspiring and thought-provoking talks I’ve ever heard. The speaker is Bernard Roth, and the talk is from a series of entrepreneurial podcasts offered by Stanford. What makes this one so special? It...

seo, publishers, google, search, content

Here’s Where Innovative Publishers Need to Focus

There are a number of key attributes successful publishers will be known for in the future, and these core capabilities will be very different from the ones that have led to the modern empires of the Big Five. Some attributes will remain the same, of course. For example, it will always be crucial for...

books, ebooks, data, readers, publishers, authors

How to Make Reading Relevant to Today’s Consumer

In a world where users can access entertainment from their mobile devices anytime and anyplace, all forms of media are competing against each other for a resource that is quickly becoming scarce: user attention. Media consumption patterns are increasingly mobile, increasingly digital and often multi-platform. This evolution has created a “multi-tasking” form of consumption, in...

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble Should Carry Indie Books

An open letter has been making the rounds the last couple days that pits the self-publishing community against one of the banners of big corporate publishing. Here’s an excerpt from indie author Cambria Herbert’s “An open letter to Barnes and Noble” (Emphasis is hers): This isn’t just an angry letter because I got another form rejection....

We Must Stop Wasting Time in the Attention Economy

Stop Wasting Time in the Attention Economy

For many people, web browsers and phone screens have grown to become the main sources of information. To that end, there’s a constant and massive stream of media arriving on our screens. We live in a cutthroat attention economy. As a result, every product will get more persuasive over time. Facebook must become more...

Another Way to Monetize Ebooks

Another Way to Monetize Ebooks

In today’s market there are typically two methods for ebook distribution: free and paid. I’ve said before that one day we’ll see an ad-subsidized model take hold. Purists generally reject that concept, saying they won’t let advertisements interfere with their reading experience. That’s fine. They can pay full price, but I’ll sometimes opt for the...

bookstores, barnes & noble, data, amazon, publishers

Facebook: The World’s Largest Bookstore?

A month or so ago, Facebook reported its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2015, and let’s just say they crushed the ball. Knocked the cover off. Pointed to the bleachers and then hit it out of the park. The big moneymaker was its burgeoning video ad business. Facebook states that people are watching...

Ebook Sample Subscriptions and Automation

Ebook Sample Subscriptions and Automation

Each time I finish a book, I end up going through the same inefficient process: I head to Amazon and a couple other sites to look for other titles on similar topics that might interest me. I usually find several candidates, and then I go through the equally inefficient process of requesting samples of...

How “Send to Kindle” Can Help Neutralize Amazon

How “Send to Kindle” Can Help Neutralize Amazon

Publishers that sell ebooks direct to consumers typically do so in EPUB format. That’s because most publishers are still wedded to the false sense of security DRM provides, and EPUB offers a popular DRM solution. Contrast that with Amazon’s format, MOBI, in which Amazon is the only company that can apply and manage the...

What’s Your Mobile, Snackable Content Strategy?

What’s Your Mobile, Snackable Content Strategy?

Last week I highlighted some of the more interesting findings reported in a document Google published called Micro-Moments: Your Guide to Winning the Shift to Mobile. This week I want to focus on a couple other important points in that document, as well as provide an example of how publishers need to leverage the...

marketing, authors, books, sales, social media

The (Real) Future of Publishing

My seven-year-old is a voracious reader. Long gone are the days when I had to read something to him or hope that he missed the inappropriate language spray-painted on a street sign. Now I’m in the process of teaching him that not everything he reads is true or completely accurate. And the same can...

Why It’s Time to Focus on IP Rights

Why All Publisher Assets Begin with Intellectual Property

Copyright, intellectual property (IP) and licensing might not sound like the most colorful of subject matters, but that should certainly not deter from their importance, especially within the publishing industry. Some may consider these areas of the market as being less flexible or less prone to change than others, but in light of recent...

Who’s Afraid of Reader Analytics?

10 Industry Predictions for 2016

When trends become clear—from self-publishing to writer events to the boutique model of the industry to the re-growth of print sales and large publisher consolidation—I regularly point out in the office that I predicted them two or three years ago. Given that I’m generally met with bemused looks, I thought I would make an...

Why Publishers Must Use Direct Sales

Why Publishers Must Use Direct Sales

If you were writing a business plan to set up a new consumer goods business, which of the following two strategies would make most sense? Strategy 1: Identify a market which, while mature, has publicly suffered of late, with a series of high-profile failures, and whose future is uncertain. Agree with these high-risk target...

A Brief History of Sales Channels

A Brief History of Sales Channels

One definition I‘ve seen and like of a “sales channel” is “a method of distribution used by a business to sell its product.” The digital age we are currently in has certainly spawned a multitude of new sales channels, yet they still fall into two basic categories, whether you’re doing B2B or B2C: direct...

The All-in-One Subscription Model

The All-in-One Subscription Model

Self-publishing is easier than it has ever been, but in the current marketplace earning money for the books you’ve written now comes with a whole new set of challenges. Most authors and publishers are finding it difficult to get their books to stand out in a market that’s only getting more and more saturated....

Is Amazon the Lion That Will Eat You?

Is Amazon the Lion That Will Eat You?

Recently, I’ve been talking to people in the book industry about a new program my company is launching that allows individuals and organizations to retail ebooks and audiobooks like the big three do: Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble. One of the most common questions I get asked, though, is, “How can anyone compete...