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Lessons for Publishers from the Loss of Family Christian Stores
March 16, 2017 at 12:49 pm

Last month brought sad news that another national bookstore chain went out of business. This time, Family Christian Stores, the largest U.S. retailer of Christian books and merchandise, closed all of its locations. Executives throughout the industry, both mainstream and religious, hated to see another big brick-and-mortar chain go under. The sting of Borders closing…

How Book Publishers Can Navigate the Death Squeeze
March 1, 2017 at 5:34 pm

The 2016 publishing sales data shared by Author Earnings at Digital Book World reminded me of all the times I have been the sad-sack tasked with managing the “death squeeze.” I went through it in the consumer photo business, the paper atlas business, and then the CD-ROM mapping software business. Each of these industries relied…

Benefits of Mobile Reading on the iPhone 7
February 1, 2017 at 1:52 pm

I upgraded to the Apple iPhone 7 for Christmas and have already doubled my reading time. And most of that doubling is because my reading is now truly mobile. Let me offer some personal examples. My wife likes to shop. A lot. I do not. While she was shopping at Goodwill last week, I read…

Another Way Digital Could Complement Print Books: Print-to-Digital Highlights
January 25, 2017 at 3:49 pm

As I’ve said before, the publishing industry needs to get beyond the current “print or digital” mindset and instead explore ways for one to complement the other. Plenty of industry stats show that most readers are comfortable with either format and many prefer the convenience of switching between the two (e.g., reading the news digital…

3 Steps to Selling Large Book Deals to Corporate Buyers
December 22, 2016 at 2:17 pm

Selling books to corporate buyers offers independent publishers an enormous – and somewhat untapped -- opportunity for increased book sales. But many book publishers fail to approach this segment because they are unfamiliar with the steps involved in the sales process. Once you understand how the system works, making a successful transition to large, non-returnable…

“The Content Trap” Is a Must-Read Book for Publishers
December 12, 2016 at 9:41 am

A recent trip to a local brick-and-mortar bookstore helped me realize that even the best algorithms and email campaigns can’t replace in-person product discovery. I noticed a book called The Content Trap sitting face-out on the shelf and couldn’t resist picking it up. Great title. Intriguing outline. Normally I’d make a note to grab the…

Making Sense of the Turmoil at HMH
December 7, 2016 at 2:05 pm

The headlines announcing Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s disappointing third-quarter results were the kind that readers of the business press are used to seeing: “Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Sales Declined 7% in Q3 2016,” read one. “Houghton Slashes Expectations Again After Poor Quarter; Stock Falls Sharply,” read another. Was HMH’s stumble just another sign of how hard it…

The Future of Bookstores May Rest on “Guerilla Retailing”
December 5, 2016 at 3:15 pm

When you look into the rearview mirror of book retailing what do you see? A path littered with failed national chains, including Borders, Hastings, and B. Dalton, along with the rising dominance of Amazon. When you look into the future, what do you see? A path where Barnes & Noble believes smaller concept stores with…

How to Pitch a Book From the Corporate Buyer’s Perspective
December 2, 2016 at 2:36 pm

Making a large-quantity book sale (5,000 copies or more) to corporate buyers typically entails a formal presentation describing how your content can help the company in some way. You can improve your chances of making the sale with an analogy to the game of baseball. In any one game there may be several different pitchers…

If You Build Better Metadata, Readers Will Come
November 29, 2016 at 10:26 am

Creating or aggregating content and actually getting readers to see it are two sides of the same coin. Without both content and a reliable way for people to find it, the motivation to create or house such content becomes less. One feeds the other. So, how do content aggregators and authors find that sweet spot…

Trashing Paper: Why We Should Consider Time Spent With Print
November 21, 2016 at 1:02 pm

No, I’m not here to trash paper. I’m here to discuss different usages of paper and the ones that are more likely to become quick trash. The recent Digital Book Printing Conference hosted by Book Business was a very interesting event with plenty of great presentations, facts, and figures. In particular, Marco Boer of IT…

3 Marketing Success Stories from the Publishing Trenches
November 8, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Every publisher represents a storehouse of interesting content that can be used to attract readers, capture email subscribers, and increase book sales. In past articles, I’ve written about these concepts and reasons why publishers should invest in inexpensive digital marketing tactics. Free content attracts readers who become email subscribers. Those email subscribers can be converted…

Amazon Rapids And the Dumbing-Down of Reading
November 7, 2016 at 11:46 am

At first I thought it was an SNL parody about ebooks for kids. We’re so addicted to info snacking, seemingly less able (and interested) in focusing on long form reading, so let’s create a new platform that helps foster even shorter attention spans for our kids. Amazon Rapids is nothing more than a series of…

12 Ways to Find Potential Buyers for Non-Bookstore Sales
November 4, 2016 at 1:13 pm

Publishers limit their book sales when they see bookstores — bricks and/or clicks — as the only place through which to sell their books. If you want to sell 10,000 books through any retailer, you must get 10,000 people to go there and buy one. But if you want to sell 10,000 books in non-retail…

Taking Book Search and Discovery to the Next Level
October 17, 2016 at 9:03 am

How are you helping consumers find the perfect book for their needs or interests? If you’re like most publishers, you offer a search function on your site. Visitors simply type in a topic and relevant titles from your catalog are displayed. This is pretty similar to how search works on Amazon. In both cases, book…

In This Case, Publishers Should Root for the OER Guys
October 11, 2016 at 9:36 am

When an organization that has created open educational resources (OER), informally known as “free stuff,” and sues FedEx, how much should publishers care about the outcome? The answer: a lot. In case you hadn’t heard, a non-profit curriculum provider called Great Minds has filed a federal lawsuit against FedEx. Here’s the background. Great Minds is…

Google Experiments With Book Discovery…And Fails
October 3, 2016 at 12:45 pm

Even though you probably never stray from the Kindle reader app I’d like to encourage you to expand your horizons. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on Apple’s iBooks and Google Play, for example, to explore other platforms and keep Amazon honest. After all, Amazon’s need to innovate diminishes if ebook platform competition…

How to Market Books From the Customer's Perspective
September 29, 2016 at 3:15 pm

What is the process you follow when you go to a store to buy something? You probably go to the most convenient place (bricks or clicks) and peruse the assortment available. You may search for a particular brand if you are aware of it. If not, you look at the prices to compare the value…

Transforming the Textbook Publishing Industry with Digital Print
September 28, 2016 at 2:11 pm

Just a few years ago, there was panic among the education book publishing segment, especially with book printers. Tablets and e-readers were all the rage. Large school districts were distributing iPads and other tablets to students en masse. A 2012 Pearson Foundation survey found that 63 percent of college students and 69 percent of high…

Should Educational Publishers Be Disruptors?
September 27, 2016 at 11:24 am

Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve never warmed to the idea that disruption is a good thing in business. I’m not a fan of companies that set out to disrupt the industries in which they operate (take that, Jeff Bezos and Elizabeth Holmes) and I am particularly skeptical about those that set out to disrupt education,…