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Another Week, Another Article on the Demise of Publishing as we know it.

December 29, 2008

Hey there.  Checking in from a surprisingly blog-free vacation to direct your attention to an article from the Times…it makes the argument that the book industry is being slammed by people who are buying books super-cheaply on the Internet.  That is…

What’s undermining the book industry is not the absence of casual readers but the changing habits of devoted readers.

Meaning, someone like me who wanted a book would in the past go into a store, or to Amazon and buy it at close to full price.  Now, backlist and many frontlist titles are available on resale sites like Amazon Marketplace, eBay and Half.com.  These are  all places I have not only shopped on, but sold on, rather successfully on both counts.

At first, reading the article, my first reaction was, seriously?  This is what you want to blame this on?  What about used bookstores, which have been around forever?  Why aren’t they to blame.

But then the idea of finding a book for one penny, plus shipping came up.  I never sold for that little, nor would I buy a book for that little, but I guess people are. 

What about you?  Do you think people reselling books online super cheaply is as much of a problem as the Times thinks it is?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 29, 2008 11:07 am

    That’s like saying what killing the buggy whip building industry was discount buggy whip sellers.

    Markets are changing…either we adapt to and embrace the new markets or we die. And I don’t think its deep discounters we need to be concerned about.

    My wife, who has steadfastly refused to get a Kindle recently downloaded Stanza for her iPhone…and she loves it. If I were in the book publishing industry (oh, wait, I sort of am) then I’d be figuring out this digital distribution thing and how to make it a bargain for the consumer (because its a bargain for me) and allows for viral distribution. It’s absolutely ridiculous that a digital copy of a book costs the same as hard back version…and consumers know this. We need to get really good at distributing content affordably (think low cost digital and audio versions) and then figure out how to sell the hard copy (nostalgic souvenir edition, which lots of people still want) at a premium price. Just look at what happened to Seth Godin’s tribes when they managed to convince itunes to offer the audio book for a couple of bucks for the first month. Number one audiobook in iTunes and a bestseller at the bookstores.

    There is one requirement though, the books have to be good. Nobody will buy the “souvenir” edition of something that’s crap.

  2. December 29, 2008 11:08 am

    oops typo :-). First sentence should be “killed”

  3. Gordon Reavis permalink
    December 30, 2008 10:47 am

    I totally agree.

    The half price book stores have a limited number of customers (Location, hours, appeal) while I can sit in my home and browse looking for the books I want at a price that I feel I can afford when I feel like it. Many trips to the half-price stores have been fruitless and a complete waste of time & gas.

    I will not even attept to address the digital book market. Either the audio or ,whick I prefer, the “readable” (pdf?) verisions. I can store a awful lot of them on a 500 Gig portable hard drive and view at my leisure, especially when I am traveling.

    Almost quote “If I were in the book publishing industry (I amnot) then I’d be figuring out this digital distribution thing and how to make it a bargain for the consumer.”

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