Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Self-Publishing, Self-Selling

For some reason, Jeff Bezos longs to publish books as well as sell them for a lower price than anyone else. He is not satisfied with wringing concessions out of publishers who must then squeeze a few more drops of financial blood out of writers' advances and royalties. No, he wants to be a publisher.

The problem he ran into rather quickly was the result of his hard-ball tactics in dealing with the publishing industry. The writers used their skill at wordplay to generate all sorts of negative publicity about Amazon and the behemoth's pricing structure, and the publishers let it be known that they were not at all pleased either.

The book shops that were hurt by Amazon's ability to cut prices had no love for the Bezos baby, and when you add up all the grumbling you arrive at the bottom line. Brick and mortar stores refused to carry books published by Amazon, and as many know, more books are discovered in a store than browsing online. For Amazon to succeed, it had to get shops to stock its offerings, but they wouldn't do it.

Who willingly sleeps with the enemy?

Rumours are floating around Seattle, Amazon's home town. The online giant is going old school.

From Kindle Direct Publishing to Amazon Book Emporium?
A corner shop in a posh shopping area has been undergoing renovation that is so cloaked in secrecy that even a clever reporter could not get so much as a glimpse of the interior. It's been said that the interior has shelves and perhaps books, but who can be certain? The windows are covered so thoroughly that a casual observer can't tell a thing about what's being done.

It is not a flight of fancy to presume that Jeff Bezos would turn to a do-it-yourself model. He's done more through the Kindle Direct Publishing platform for self-publishing authors than any other venue. The concept bypasses the traditional publishing industry with its gatekeepers and heavy reliance on MFA graduates, and has shaken the industry to the point that many literary agents help their clients self-publish manuscripts that are not deemed blockbuster enough by the Big Five houses.

From self-publishing, then, to self-selling. Jeff Bezos just might be using his financial resources to start up a chain of book shops that will indeed carry Amazon-published titles, so there, Old World publishing houses. He outflanked them with KDP, and now he thinks he can win with a similar tactic on the ground.

No matter that Barnes and Noble is closing up shops right and left. That can be ascribed to poor management or bad decision-making in the corner offices. As for the pain experienced by independent shops, well, that's been inflicted by Amazon so the Amazon book shops won't get hurt. They may not be able to offer pricing as low as the online model because stores have expenses to be met and clerks to be paid. You can't very well put a gaggle of robots in a store and expect people to laud the customer service.

More interesting may be the location of the store. Pick an area where people have ready cash and a pre-existing tendency to read and buy books, and your shop has a better chance of making it than if it were located in a less well-to-do area where sales might be slow.

Market to the higher echelons who would enjoy finding a bargain and sell more Amazon published titles.

Will it work? Perhaps. Or perhaps it will be an expensive undertaking that will eat up cash until the costs far outweigh the benefits. It seems like a rather expensive undertaking, just to get books into a building. And it certainly isn't something that the average self-publishing author could do, unless they are very, very wealthy.

Amazon has the wealth. But can a few scattered shops be enough to turn the tide for Amazon books?

No comments: