OMG! What if B&N Closes?

OMG! What if B&N Closes? “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” So said Mark Twain in 1897, and I’m wondering if Barnes & Noble might be saying the same thing right about now.   Over the last week, an article by Michael Levin has been making the rounds, causing fear and trembling among certain groups of authors and publishing folks.  Syndicated on news websites all over the U.S., Levin’s article predicts that Barnes & Noble may close all the rest of their stores by the end of the year. It proposes five reasons for B&N’s demise, and goes on to lament the awful tragedy this would be. (You can read a version of the article HERE.)   I just want to add my two cents to the pot:   Everybody, get a grip.   1. We’ve known for a long time that...
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What Does the Future Hold?

What Does the Future Hold? I was talking with a friend who works in the financial industry, and a question came up about what we would each be doing 30 years from now. My friend was anticipating a prosperous retirement at that point, having built up a significant and valuable business. While the financial life of our nation has its ups and downs, the stock market is presumably not going anywhere, and can be counted on to provide an entire lifetime of employment. Not so the publishing industry! Because the entire arena of publishing-agenting-authoring is undergoing such change, I’m not sure what to expect in five or ten years’ time, let alone more than that. I felt flummoxed. Where, indeed, will I be in 30 years? Like most people who work around books, I’m pretty sure of a few things: 1. Readers...
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It’s the End of the World As We Know It

It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I feel fine.) Yesterday a lot of people were talking about this article in Wired: Publishers Hustle to Make E-Books More Immersive. You should read it if you get a chance. It’s all about how publishers and authors are looking to adapt to digital technologies (currently iPad, Kindle Fire and Nook) by creating books with “audio, video and interactive components.” They’re talking “enhanced e-books” and beyond, including apps and “complete multi-media experiences.” There’s a lot of talk about how this is going to be the way to bring in the younger audiences, get them interested in books (or multi-media experiences) complete with interactive components and movie trailers. As a lifelong reader, I have a couple of thoughts about this....
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Do Authors Have a Right to be Paid?

Do Authors Have a Right to be Paid? This controversial blog post by Matthew Ingram made quite a stir last week: Godin to authors: You have no right to make money any more After a quick look, I responded via Twitter: “For obvious reasons, this article kind of makes my blood boil.” It wasn’t until the weekend that I had some time to slow down and read the whole article, and then I read the original interview on Digital Book World: Seth Godin on Libraries, Literary Agents and the Future of Book Publishing as We Know It.  (It’s not very long—you should read it.) And my blood’s no longer boiling. Here’s the important piece to help you understand what Godin is saying: Rivera: Many authors hear your message about being willing to give away their books for free, or to focus on spreading their...
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Are We Ready for Change?

Are We Ready for Change? What the Publishing Industry can Learn from Kodak Part 3 of 3 The last two days we’ve been looking at things publishers, agents, and writers can learn from the decline of the Kodak company. Monday we discussed knowing our business, and yesterday we looked at knowing our customer. Today let’s talk about dealing with change. Here are a few more things I took from the Kodak situation. 7. The time is now (or three years ago) to begin changing and preparing for future more cataclysmic changes. Kodak had a good ten-year window of opportunity to change their business—they had research and intelligence that predicted exactly how the market was going to change. They even stepped out to meet it—Kodak invented the digital camera, after all. But they failed to change enough. It’s not...
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Do You Know Your Customer?

Do You Know Your Customer? What Publishing Can Learn From Kodak Part 2 of 3 This week we’re looking at things the publishing industry can learn from the decline of Eastman Kodak Co. Yesterday we started with the importance of knowing our business. Today – three more lessons from Kodak. What insight can we gain about knowing our customer? 4. We can acknowledge that the consumer has considerable impact on the market. Traditionally, advertising and marketing have been focused on “creating a need” in the consumer, and then filling the need. You convince people they want something, then you sell it to them. While that dynamic is still in play, there’s been a power shift in favor of the consumer. People know they’re not beholden to giant conglomerates to get what they want. They realize they have...
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Do You Know What Business You’re In?

Do You Know What Business You’re In? What the Publishing Industry Can Learn From Kodak Part 1 of 3 Last month one of America’s most venerable and recognizable companies, Eastman Kodak Co., filed for bankruptcy after a long, steady decline in revenue. I’ve been reading various business analysts’ explanations and deconstructions of what went wrong, and all I keep thinking is, holy cow, I hope everyone in publishing is paying attention. Writers, agents and publishers can glean lessons from the mistakes Kodak made. I’m not a business analyst, but I’ve managed to put together a list of points I think we should keep in mind, if we don’t want to go the way of Kodak. (This is the first of three posts on the topic.) Today’s focus: Knowing our business. Herewith, the first 3 things I think we can learn from Kodak. 1. We...
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The Changing Publishing Landscape

The Changing Publishing Landscape Yesterday we talked about how slow everything seems to go in traditional publishing, and how it can be tempting to think of "quick" e-book publishing as better simply because it's faster. I have a couple of things to add today about how this industry is changing.
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