Marketing Idea No. 295: Internet didn’t kill the Book Author

The paper based book industry is dying. We are just counting it down to its last breath.

At one point or another, everyone got into this band wagon of doomsday. The writing was on the wall for some time. But the global book industry is anything but dead. The advent of technology didn’t kill it. If anything, technology helped it to grow.

The analogy with music industry is understandable but misguided. The death of record label was mostly due to industry changing disruption like consumers looking for one single song, not the whole album. The record labels usually pushed artists to come up with different styles of songs for one single album in the hope that different songs will appeal to different people, hence more sales. But consumers eventually outsmarted the record label, and much of the credit goes to the eco system that Apple came up with.

But Book is a much tougher cookie to fight. There is still no significantly increasing demand for book summary, as sold by websites like Getabstract, compared to the book itself, showing that the analogy with music industry is not true for books. Books are also surprisingly simple and efficient. It comes with light packaging, easy to hold, needs no recharging, attractive to look at, can be an wonderful gift and like any other successful brand portrays a certain image about the person who purchases it. For e-books, to overcome such a formidable adversary is not proving to be easy. In 2010 Simon & Schuster predicted more than 50% of its global sales will be e-books. It turned out to be only 30%. In Germany, only 5% books sold last year were e-books. In fact all over the world e-book sales have been decreasing in growth rate.

The twist of the tale is how technology has actually increased the scope of book business. The self-publishing boom has actually liberated a generation of authors to bypass any sort of publisher and direct publish and sell his books through Amazon who will only keep 30% of the revenue. In America, as much as 25% of all books who got an ISBN in 2012 are self-published.

Technology is also helping publishers to sell regular books more by making all sorts of data available. HarperCollins for example found out that when it discounts backlist books, around 10% consumers buy another title from the same author. Another way Technology is helping is through the creation of Audio Books. The cost of audio books creation has fallen from approximately $25,000 to $3000. This has helped to market books to another very important segment: Children.

The impact of collaboration and crowd funding has also helped book industry. In February 2014, a young woman raised $380,000 through Kickstarter for a children’s book called “Hello Ruby”. Another crowd funding site called Unbound has already helped produce a novel called “The Wake” which was in the list for the 2014 Man Booker prize in fiction.

Today if you have an idea about a book but no fund or no time to write, you can go to internet to find both. That’s why, the future of book, as it stands, is much brighter than many people think.

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