How Social Sharing, E-samples, And Mobile Can Revitalize Book Publishing
The book publishing industry is arguably in its most disruptive cycle of change since the advent of cast metal type. To be sure, it's a century-long disruption of which digital media is only the latest phase. Today a host of digital media diversions -- ecommerce, social media, streaming video -- have furthered the attrition of book-reading spurred by earlier audio and visual media.
And yet somehow publishing changes, survives, and even thrives. Old-school publishing houses consolidate and new entities emerge, using technologies like short-run digital print and EPUB to fill a seemingly endless series of specialized niches. But as so many authors and small publishers try to make a living in the book world, the enormity of the task becomes apparent. If every would-be author and publisher is chasing their own micro-audience, we're going to need some better tools.
The Promise & Peril of Social Selling
In the article, "The Social Publisher," published in the October 2013 issue of Book Business, I outlined the challenges of building an effective promotional platform using social media and social networking. For publishers and authors, the process can be daunting. Picking the right platform, populating it with compelling content, and knowing how and when to push, can produce remarkable results. However, this effort often can be at the cost of an author's time -- which could be better spent on writing books! The writing skill sets of authors and promoters are also not the same. Add to that the incompatibility of blatantly promotional content to social sharing's ostensible purpose: to share things with friends, not to pitch them to buy stuff.
Another challenge of social book promotion is the "last mile" of actual purchase. Although online book buying (particularly ebooks) has never been easier, the steps between social sharing/promotion and the buying decision are not always straightforward.
John Parsons (firstname.lastname@example.org), former Editorial Director of The Seybold Report, is an independent writer, ghostwriter, and editor. He is the co-author of the interactive printed textbook, Introduction to Graphic Communication, on the art, science and business of print, which has been adopted by Ryerson, Arizona State, the University of Houston, and many other schools and vocational training centers. Custom editions of the book are under consideration by major printing companies and franchises for internal training purposes.