BookBaby Expands Focus to Publishers, Offering D2C Tools
E- and print book distribution service BookBaby has a reputation for working primarily with self-published authors. The company touts the motto, "Make the little guy look big," which BookBaby chief marketing officer Steven Spatz says the company achieves through promotional tools that connect authors with book review sites and PR firms, ecommerce services, and a large-scale distribution.
This week at BEA BookBaby launched a new initiative, offering publishers of 50-plus titles a year a significant discount on its services. Spatz explains the program below.
What's BookBaby's big announcement for BEA 2014?
BookBaby has been working with publishers and agents and people with large backlists, but we really focused on the single, self-published author. We had publishers and agents in these programs, but they weren't exactly right for them. We found out that they need the ability to upload a larger number of files to us at a discount. The program we're announcing at the beginning of BEA is this wholesale initiative.
If you produce over 50 books a year with us, we have pricing tiers that are based on volume. These provide very deep discounts from our regular rates, up to 30%. Even if you are a publisher doing a modest quantity of books, like a college press or a local press, you can easily qualify for this and get some substantial discounts.
That's what publishers have really wanted. They want something that rewards their volume. Publishers can now bring their volume to us and take advantage of all the great things on the backend that self-published authors benefit from.
Do you have publishers who are already signed on for the new program?
No. We based this off of a lot of research and talking with authors about what their needs are. We're not the type of company that goes in to prime the pump.
And we will probably modify this as we go along. We're the type of company that wants to try a minimal, viable product and we listen, we research, we tinker, we show it to a few people, and then we are ready to announce to the world. We decided that BEA is the perfect stage to let everyone in on this at the same time.
Why ramp up your services to publishers now?
I think a lot of publishers have recognized in the last couple of years that they need to have a direct link to customers. They need to go beyond just talking to bookstores and distributors. A lot of our business is acting as a distributor to get them into Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but we also launched BookShop three months ago. This gives authors their own, gated page on our site to sell their books, and we have seen some success stories already.
I think this reflects what publishers are thinking. They've long ignored their end user and BookBaby is one of many solutions out there that can help them have that direct contact with users. They could go direct themselves, but it is difficult to set up those types of databases and get that reach that they need. The alternative is to use services like BookBaby, which really gives the authors the tools they need to promote their works.
How else can publishers benefit using BookBaby?
There is one theme that we are also going to talk about at BEA. There is a feeling out there that Amazon is the end all and be all of book sales. I did a presentation a couple weeks ago and asked, "What percentage of our sales do you think are from Amazon? 80%? 90%?" It's actually 60%. The other bookstores-iBookStore, Barnes & Noble-make up 30% and are growing.
In the last few years Amazon's market share on BookBaby has dropped from 68% down to 60%. That's why we give our authors access to all sorts of stores, like FlipCart, which is an ebook store in India. We have other bookstores in Asia and South America. There is a strong international distribution network. That is going to be a big thing going forward.
Are you looking to expand the foreign markets you're working in?
Yes, very much so. Right now we're talking to a couple of chains in China. There are so many people in China who are speaking English and reading English language books and we really want to get our reach out there.
We started in the music business with CD Baby and have survived the tumultuous days of Napster and beyond. And in the music business, it's all about these niches, genre music. In publishing, I think it's going to be about the language pockets that are throughout these other countries.