Book Publishing

one of the Creative Industries

what does the Book Publisher do? Charlie Stross' publisher notes We provide a range of functions for authors, including copy editing the manuscript, commissioning a cover, arranging ISBNs, printing the books, exporting data to bibliographic agencies, making sell-in material, selling the book to major retail customers at head office level, selling the book to individual bookshops through our sales force, planning and executing consumer marketing campaigns, sending out review copies to reviewers, following up with those reviewers, analysing sales patterns, following those up with retailers and so on. Meantime we're warehousing stock and reprinting as necessary.

  • Cory Doctorow responds with A publisher make a work public... Midlist writers with a lot of energy and limited interest in the reach of their works can make as much money as writers who are signed with major publishers. For example, Jim Munroe publishes many of his own books and make 4-5x per copy over what I make off my books with Tor. But his books reach a much smaller audience than mine do, meaning that his ideas don't reach as far as mine. (Memetic)

EBook is an evolving medium for this

categories pf Market-s (which overlap):

  • Trade Publishing: mainstream commercial publishing
  • Text-Book
  • Scholarly/academic: university presses, etc.: typically focus on selling at high prices, to libraries
  • Reference: dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc.: also sold mainly to libraries
  • Self Publishing

Pompous recommendations for various players (2012)

If I were a Big Publisher

Basic thinking: your Imprint-s/brands should be known/valued by readers, so that it's easier to sell future books. This means a brand/imprint needs Fo Cus/identity.

I would inventory the people and needs (Persona) I was serving with each imprint/brand, then do the same for my biggest books, then maybe the rest of my books. I would recognize that a single book could serve multiple Persona, but almost always serves only a couple Persona strongly.

I would focus my future title acquisitions on a relatively small number of Persona. I would move each imprint toward focusing on a single Persona.

I would build a public-facing technology platform to treat each Persona as a Virtual Community and market.

  • I'd sell all my EBook-s directly to consumers, DRM-free
  • I'd sell my Printed Book-s also, though expect not to move much because of single-title-sale shipping costs.
  • I'd make sure my books were being catalogued by every good catalog - Open Library, Good Reads,, Google Book Search, etc. so that EBook-buyers would find my titles. (I'd need a good Affiliate Program for them.)
  • I'd give some support to Open Source EPub readers.
  • I'd run a big Virtual Community/Discussion Forum system
    • it would be very bushy so that a given book could lead different Persona visitors to different clusters of related books/discussions
  • I'd have a good Event Calendar system, so I could get notified only when authors I follow are having events near me (or virtual events).
  • I'd use RSS so I could aggregate feeds from blogs my authors already run. Not sure whether I'd actually suck the posts in as copies, or drive traffic to the author blogs. The former makes more sense in terms of integrated reader experience, but might piss off the authors.
  • I'd do the same thing with non-author blogs that fit my Persona-s. I wouldn't copy those entries, I'd keep a title and first paragraph, linking off to destination blog. (Thus becoming some sort of Portal.)
  • Hmm, maybe I'd even link to books from other publishers that I though served my community well, in exchange for affiliate fee?

I'd consider "publishing" non-book content that fit my Persona. Short-form text, Video, etc.

  • or maybe I'd just aggregate, seeking Affiliate Program fees (and only because it's a way to serve my members).

If I were a niche publisher

I'd stick to max 1-2 Persona.

I'd do the same things as big-publisher-above.

If I were an established author

I would run my own blog and Virtual Community/Discussion Forum server, even if my publishers already ran one.

I would sell my own EBook-s direct-to-reader if my contract allowed. Else I'd link to my publisher if they gave me a good affiliate fee, else I'd link wherever the best deal was.

If I were writing my first book

I would start by writing a blog.

Then I would go with Self Publishing for the book. I'd focus on EBook distribution, though I might use Lulu or someone equivalent so that a Printed Book was possible for some people. If the book does great, I'd consider moving the book to a traditional publisher for Printed Book distribution.

If I were Barnes And Noble

Update: 2014-02-15-IfIRanBarnes And Noble

I'd place more emphasis on benefits of combo of physical Book Store with online service.

I would pitch my EBook-s as "more open than Amazon". I'd push publishers to drop DRM, and note whether each Nook EBook has DRM.

I'd build a Book Server mainly as a Metered Pay Wall to offer pre-sale samples.

If I were an independent bookseller

I would turn myself into a niche publisher. Or anything else.

Other players?

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