I’ve been talking to a lot of authors and publishers over the last 6 months and I am repeatedly awe-struck by how weird this market is. The below is a simplification…
Authors create a product (book).
A publisher acquires that product from the author.
Publishers pay the author a combination of an upfront payment and a percentage of future sales to own that product (depends on a lot of factors).
The author has almost zero financial incentive to impact the sales of the product they created.
The publisher rarely does any marketing or sales. But, if they do, they focus their limited resources on promoting the books that cost them the most to acquire or are seen as “winners”.
So, why does the author not keep ownership of the product and sell it themselves?
- The barrier of printing the book, logistics, digital formatting, distribution to bookstores, Amazon, and all those relationships. Maybe call this the business side of books.
- The barrier of marketing and selling the product. Even though most publishers don’t do anything here either.
- For many authors, the actual product is themselves and not the book. So they want it published in order to help them achieve something else, open doors, etc…
- For many authors, there is a lot of passion and fun in writing, so they just don’t want to dilute that with the business side of things. So they sell it off and are onto the next thing.
Things I am thinking about…
- How does the cost of print-on-demand offerings compare to larger orders to offset the physical cost of books.
- How hard is it to get an individual book into a big distributor to ensure that bookstores and other can pull it?
- How do you launch an ebook marketplace that competes with Amazon and its Kindle ecosystem? And/or, how do you hijack the Kindle to be used by other ebook marketplaces (esp that would benefit indie bookstores and authors more)?