New Rules!

rule bookProbably every industry has to periodically rethink its conventional wisdom and rewrite its rulebook.  Book publishing is no exception.  About a year ago, Rohit Bhargava wrote an insightful post highlighting 5 case studies that demonstrated how book marketing was being reivented.  The experiments continue.  During the past several years, the book publishing industry has been adapting to a steady stream of innovations, a number of which have been discussed on this blog.  What start as experiments become accepted wisdom.  Much of this new wisdom may turn out to be transitional and ephemeral.  Nevertheless, presented here for your consideration (and comment!) is my forecast about what shape the new rules might take.

  1. The printed book will endure – The demise of the printed book has long been predicted.  But the book has proved to be one of the most durable creations in human history.  Many believe  the Internet spells the end of the printed book.  Instead, it seems to be driving the creation of an immense and vibrant long tail of book sales.  Advances in digital ink and e-paper could enhance the reading process by while preserving the print book format.  The e-book, like the audio book, will complement print book sales, not supplant them.
  2. Everything is measured and tested – Blog to book authoring strategies offers the possibility of testing all content before publicaiton and sampling the prsopective audience.  Tools are available to help identify, quantifiy, aggregate and stimulate audiences.  Buzz around any title or topic can be tracked and marketing programs adjusted accordingly.  BookScan tabulates actual sales and shows what’s really selling.  Analytics will inform title acquisitions and marketing decisions.
  3. Books become another form of consumer generated media – This may seem odd.  Books have always been the personal creations of their authors.  As more books emerge from blogs and / or podcasts, they will take on the characteristics of their ambient medium and become more like the creation of a community.  
  4. Social networks become the new word of mouth – Social networks are becoming the new places to learn about and share cultural items.  The membership of social media are becoming more mainstream and the tools for members to share their likes / dislikes, insights and experiences are becoming more sophisticated.
  5. Book trailers become the new book coverBook videos can now be our first conceptualization of a book.  A book trailer quickly gives a sense of the author and the content.  There is increasing evidence that they help drive sales.  And book videos can travel to sites, through e-mail and now to video enabled portable devices like the iPhone.
  6. Books become viral – How?  Widgets.  The first round of book widgets seem relatively modest in scope.  They are essentially like Amazon’s Search Inside the Book, escept they can reside on other sites.  But the real power is in the web services that supports the widget.  They can expose other kinds of information related to a title – press releases, book videos – and can become a kind of viral PR machine.
  7. Inventory is replaced by production at the point of purchase – New technologies like the Espresso Book Machine will make book distribution completely digital and bring a more “just in time” flavor to book production.  Better, it will open a whole new set of venues where books can be sold, including the self serve variety.  For all practical purposes, returns are zero.

I would like to hear other predictions / new rules and comments. 

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