We now see almost daily news that book sales are in decline, publishers are struggling, high street book stores are closing and eBooks sales are going through the roof. So what is going on here?
Until recently as is the case with most people, my only involvement with the book industry was as a consumer buying the occasional book to read on holiday or on the train. Personally I have found the choice of books becoming increasingly ‘dumbed down’. Many poorly written by people trying to sell their ‘life stories’ which had little more interest than watching paint dry – think young, celebs and sports personalities or ‘coffee table’ books produced for their ‘prettiness’ not there content. Fiction with the odd exception also seems to have got ‘stuck’ with the same old themes being churned out year after year.
This is thanks to the publishing industry. Risk averse, greedy and with huge overheads to support. The industry appears to run as a closed cartel which has been almost impossible for ‘new’ authors to break into. Behind the seams is a confused and often wrong indexing system – ISBN, with data on books incorrect, out of date and completely mismanaged and no vision on globalisation. Each region running its own system, with different fees from free to £100’s for an ISBN. Territory rights – ‘a great sales prevention system’; surely as an author you want maximum sales so why are your book sales so often restricted to particular geographic regions? Then we have royalties, the very generous payment scheme which after the literary agents, publishers, printers, wholesalers and retailers have all taken their ‘cut’ does not leave much for the poor author. In most cases if your book does not ‘take off’ in the first few weeks then you are pretty much left on your own to market it and you are now locked into a very expensive contract for selling your own publication.
So how is self publishing going to alter this decline? By using technology now available everywhere to shape a new publishing marketplace. Printing technology has evolved to provide single book print runs as the norm at an increasingly competitive cost. We no longer need to print 500 copies at a time with the cost of printing and storage and possibly disposal if they are not sold. EBooks are ‘growing up’ to provide a single common standard (well nearly) which once created are simple to distribute as a download. The Internet, Websites, Social Media, Email marketing, AdWords are available to everyone to help promote and sell their products and services. Properly done you can get a much wider exposure for your book than a publishing house can get by putting your book for a few weeks on booksellers shelves. And the Internet has no geographical boundaries so your audience is worldwide. Build an eBay shop, advertise on Gumtree, use Amazon, and tell your own network of friends and associates connected to you on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others.
So you can see for little cost other than your time you can be your own self publisher and marketing company using services that are free or low cost and keep the rights to do what you want with your book and a much larger proportion of the sales price.
For the customer there is a much bigger choice of books covering everything rather than the ‘’editor tells you what to read” syndrome. Some will be poorly written, some will be on really niche topics but the fun will be digging into this selection to find new, rich and exciting material from fresh authors.
So now anyone can get their book published, printed and sold. Sales revenue is much higher on each book sale. A far better choice for the customer. Less restrictions and regulation. Desktop to doorstep experience for both printed book and eBook.
Yes I hear the shouts of ‘but you will never get the same marketing drive behind the book a publishing house can do’ or ‘the book will never be professionally edited or produced’. But at what cost? It would seem with the declining sales of printed books from publishing houses and the rising sales of eBooks from the self publishing market, the consumer has spoken.
Skoobebooks is an online bookstore for self published authors to upload and sell their books from. You write it, we sell it.