Cover Story - Outlook 2010: The Future of the Industry
Linda Carlson, a marketing and media ?relations consultant for Parenting Press, believes publishers should do more to support smaller bookstores, such as run contests or offer to market on their behalf in return for guarantees of high-profile book placement. "Most people own bookstores because they like books, not because they like marketing," she notes.
"[Publishers] really weren't paying attention to who was growing in power and influence in the retail space," Norris says. "It was a huge mistake to basically treat the Costcos, Walmarts and Targets the same way they would treat an Elm Street Books. … From my chair, it does not look like they have valued the independent bookstore, which is this crucial mechanism for book discovery and reading discovery. Publishers were too quick to say, 'Oh, here comes Amazon. Let's let them take the spotlight,' or, 'Oh look, Walmart is opening another 100,200 locations this year.'"
A Coming Identity Crisis?
A worst-case scenario for publishers would be if a retailer such as Amazon, already offering the best pricing and distribution options, decides to move further into publishing, says Richard Rubin, a principal consultant with Innodata Isogen and author of a recent whitepaper on publishing strategies in the emerging e-book market.
"If Amazon opens up a formal publishing arm and says, 'We are the biggest player out there, and we will promote you,' how can [a traditional publisher] compete with that?" he asks. "They claim they don't want to get into that business, but that's not to say there might not be some alliances and joint ventures."
Rubin points to the digital-rights deal recently signed between Amazon and best-selling author Stephen Covey as an example of these partnerships emerging. "I think, ultimately, what we are going to see over the next couple of years is a lot of meshing of lines between writer, publisher and distributor."