Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The E-Book Saga, Inside

The New Yorker has this nice little piece about the publishers maneuvering behind the scenes to affect e-book pricing on the Kindle and the iPad. There's some awareness of the fact that publishers will have to justify themselves to authors, but no real grappling with that reality or how quickly it's arriving. The head of Random House seems to think that e-books will take another decade to become an important part of the market. Wishful thinking at its finest.

Publishers can certainly serve a purpose for authors, but they have to be prepared to re-invent their business models. That's always painful, but the choice is that or severe shrinkage. Authors are now able to market their own books, so publishers have to show the value of their marketing to authors. (For many authors, one of their major gripes with publishers is the reduction in marketing budgets and efforts for all but the biggest titles.) Publishers can certainly help develop new authors, especially by advancing royalties. But that's always been a risky undertaking for publishers; they lose money on a majority of authors, and hope to make up the losses with big wins on some authors.

Amazon is offering some marketing tools to authors, like having a conversation with a marketing expert, or connecting them with services that do professional reviews of their books and make those available. I'm sure we'll see more of this as time goes on; authors will have more ways to market their own books. This is not something all authors want to do, though; many would be perfectly happy to leave that to someone else to do. Unfortunately, if you want it done well you may have to take a more active role in doing it, as publishers seems to be ignoring most authors in favor of a few mega-sellers. Authors will have to give some thought to re-inventing their own business model, too.

It's a time of great change, and also great opportunity. As the technology advances and changes, we have to change how we do business to take advantage of it, or risk getting lost in the shuffle.

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