Sometimes living in Maine has unexpected advantages beyond lobster, seaside air, and friendly people, as I discovered yesterday when learning one of the newest beta sites for the Espresso Print-on-Demand system was being unveiled at a South Portland Books-a-Million store. Publerati is located in nearby Portland.
The days of the hard-charging sales closer are over. Today's corporate buyers are savvy, informed people who know what they want. They search the Internet looking for the providers of those products and cal them in for a negotiation to get the best price. Our job as book salespeople is to work with buyers to let them know how to use our books as promotional items - a fact of which they may be unaware. Creativity and flexibility trump high-pressure selling. Here are the ten ways in which the sales process is changing.
Although I was in the midst of a break from Book Business, publishing debates pervaded many of the conversations I had with my family over the past few days, and they left me with a stunning realization.
Marketing planning is a tool publishers can use to help them make better decisions during periods of relative uncertainty. It helps them maximize short-term results and build a foundation upon which to grow their future businesses. Underlying this concept are two important considerations. First, planning for rapid and positive cash flow (the velocity of your revenue) is both critical to success and more accurate in the short term. Second, as you reinvest this revenue in your next bevy of titles, you are more likely to increase the amount (volume) of long-term revenue. Here are some suggestions for actions you can take to increase the velocity and volume of your future revenue.
I have been assembling BEA take-aways from the lively and informative reports of seasoned observers and trade professionals, without having attended in person. These provided me a lot to chew on, along with vivid memories of sitting through panel presentations, hiking through the aisles and corridors, and schmoozing at the booths at the Javits Center. They have added more substance to what I otherwise learn working with new business development and online publication services each day.
On January 1, 2013 I assumed the position of Executive Director of The Small Publishers Association of North America (SPAN). As of June 1, 2013 SPAN will formally be known as The Association of Authors and Publishers for Special Sales (AAPSS).
The AAPSS mission is to become known as the premier source of information, education and help for publishers of high-quality content published in printed, electronic or audio form for sale to consumers, non-bookstore retailers and non-retail buyers. AAPSS intends to become the respected brand-name entity that provides high quality, functional and innovative sales and marketing resources that enhance our members’ efforts to grow their businesses profitably.
There’s been a great deal of conjecture lately about the future of the bookstore: What will happen to the B&N stores (especially if they do plan to reduce the number of stores)? What about independent bookstores? Will Amazon crush bricks-and-mortar stores out of existence? Oh, lordy, will there even be such a thing as a bookstore!?!?
Not surprisingly, this all made me think of a song. Under time pressure to have a song for the first Earth Day concert in 1970, the great Tom Paxton created the gold standard for songs about ecology when he wrote “Whose Garden Was This.” In it, the singer lives in a future world where flowers and forests no longer exist, birds no longer fly and he’s only seen pictures of blue rivers and heard recordings of breezes. In the end, he desperately makes us swear it’s true that “The forest had trees, the meadows were green, the oceans were blue and birds really flew.”
With all the issues facing bookstores today and all of the conjecture (some might call it sturm und drang) about the future of bookstores, it made me wonder: Will Paxton’s great-granddaughter one day write a similar song about bookstores? Will she make us swear that we went to a place where we could touch a printed book at all, let alone before it arrived in the mail?; where we could say to another human being, not an algorithm or a database, “What do you recommend?”
General business theory suggests that a new company is more likely to thrive if it faces less competition. Therefore, entrepreneurs try to launch their businesses in uncontested markets so they can avoid the potential problems usually associated with going head-to-head with an entrenched rival.
However, a recent study has shown that exposure to competition in the introductory stage can actually increase the likelihood of long-term survival. Andrew Burke and Stephanie Hussels (Harvard Business Review, March, 2013, p 24) found that “companies launched in crowded markets had higher odds than others of failing in the first year — but if a company survived during this early period, it had a much greater chance of making it to the three-year mark.”
The Guild (formerly called The Bookbinders’ Guild of New York) was formed in 1925 by a group of 35 craftsmen who met to discuss significant developments in bookmaking. Today we are a volunteer organization with membership of more than 500, from the ranks of all type of publishing staff, vendors and freelancers. We sponsor educational trips, hold monthly informational programs and help to raise money for the Literacy Assistance Center. In 20 years we’re very proud to have raised over $320,000 for the LAC.
Last week was our biggest annual event—the 27th annual New York Book Show. Each year entries are submitted from around the country for books published in the last year. Entries include either covers/jackets or complete books, and are separated into categories. Just within “Children’s Trade” we have “picture book”, “young adult”, “pop-up”, “covers and jackets”, etc. Judges who are expert in specific areas volunteer their time and expertise.
Then in the Spring we show off the winners and have a big celebration.
Your business model is the description of how you make money. Is your model to sell your book through bookstores (clicks and bricks)? Or are you a publisher selling multiple titles the same way you always have? You may have added ebooks to your product line and assumed this was a new business model. It is a variation, not a new model.
If you have not changed the way you generate revenue in the past year, your business model is probably obsolete. And you are not maximizing your revenue opportunities.
Look at Amazon.com as an example. It launched with an innovative business model as an online bookstore. Then it started offering other products (clothing, computers) requiring different distribution networks. Then Amazon began selling digital books, music and movies online. Soon it added its own branded products (Kindle), web services and is now investing millions of dollars in warehouses for same-day delivery of groceries and other merchandise. Amazon’s business model changed regularly over 18 years to meet and create new opportunities.