Distribution in the Digital Age
“We’re seeing a huge uptake in e-books by consumers,” he says. “Clearly that’s the Kindle effect. It would appear to us that the retail market, after many false starts, is taking off.”
E-books are beginning to have an impact in the small and niche publishing market, says Laura Dawson, an independent industry consultant.
“One of the uses I find really surprising is the success of romance books [in the e-book market],” Dawson says. “This is the consumer segment with the [highest] adoption.”
Speaking at the Book Industry Study Group’s (BISG) Making Information Pay event in May, Malle Vallik, Harlequin’s director of digital content and interactivity, stressed the importance of offering free e-content to encourage readers to try the experience and get comfortable with it. Many women may not be naturally inclined to read e-books, she said, so giving them an incentive to try the format out can enable them to find out they like it.
Jacqueline Simonds, CEO of Reno, Nev.-based based publisher and distributor Beagle Bay Books, says that she has only just begun to explore electronic options, as she considers releasing chapter-by-chapter e-documents once she has chosen a solution for managing her content across platforms.
“I think that as e-reader [devices] evolve, that becomes more interesting, but I think it’s going to be e-content rather than full books,” she says. “It’s not a problem really. You just have to think of your book as a content package that you can pull … content from, something you can re-monetize and repackage in a lot of ways.”
The use of electronic information is affecting the supply chain on the back end as well, Dawson says.
“Getting information electronically is just the standard way of doing business today, and that leads to a whole lot of efficiency in the supply chain,” she says. She cites as examples instant updates for inventory, having codes stamped on boxes rather than having to scan every book individually, and the use of radio frequency identification technology, which she describes as “E-ZPass for your books.”