Man, I SO love being right. Not to brag, but those who’ve followed me any amount of time know my tract record for predictions is pretty darn impressive. Back as early as 2006 I knew social media was going to be a game changer for novelists. Until social media, fiction authors had zero ability to build a platform of fans before the book was ever finished/published, unlike non-fiction authors (which probably explained our 96% failure rate).
The only way a novelist could build a platform or brand was through already published books. This was NOT the case for the non-fiction author.
Unlike novelists, NF authors weren’t trying to spin an audience from the ether and praying the stars aligned when their books hit shelves. Non-fiction writers exhibited some control—actually quite a lot of control—in creating a platform of fans who were ready and eager for a purchase before the product came to market. Often this was done through activities like public speaking, lecturing or writing articles.
When Web 2.0 came on the scene (a product of the dot.com implosion) and user-generated content began accelerating, the future seemed very clear to me. User-generated content WAS the future. Who was best at creating content? Helloooo? WRITERS! Finally we had a small stage of our own where we could at least make a dent in that nightmare known as discoverability.
In 2008, I pitched numerous agents a book about social media for authors. I was laughed at. They told me that Facebook was a fad and that e-books would never be statistically significant. That they’d weathered the great “books on tape” scare that was supposed to render all paper books extinct and e-books would soon go away along with social media.
Hey, paper is never going away. There is always going to be a market for that, but it’s going to be utterly reinvented. The paper model can’t be sustained the way it’s going. It’s too wasteful.
Also, e-books are going to be bigger than you realize. The only reason they haven’t been a big deal so far is no one has come out with a tablet or e-reader that is affordable and user-friendly. That happens? Game over. You need to be ahead of this curve.
Who cares how people read so long as they are reading? And paying YOU?
*does Jerry Maguire face* Help ME, help YOU.
Aaaaaand then Steve Jobs came out with the iPad and the iPhone went mainstream. All phones became smartphones and life as we knew it imploded. Then the Nook and Kindle and yeah. E-books are kind of a BIG DEAL. So are audio books, btw. Ever heard of Audible? Whispersync?
A little thing called Twitter?
And that agent to this day walks the other direction when he sees me.
I’ve been blogging eight years telling writers that social media is critical. Granted, the first year people ignored me. The next year readers just called me a witch. Then, people went from pissy to borderline violent, which is odd because hey, I am just here to help.
Don’t want to do social media? Don’t. But we are no longer in a world with a Borders and a Barnes & Noble on every corner…and I mean every corner.
But this brings up what I wanted to talk about today. Anyway, I was patting myself on the back about what a GENIUS I a—-OUCH!!! CRAMP! BREATHE! Walk it off…
For the most part I have been pretty accurate in my projections. I’d love to say that it is that it is I am really smart. Or even that it has to do with that deal I made with Satan junior year, only that deal involved me being able to eat all the pizza I wanted and never get fat.
Where was I?
Thing is, markets never stay the same. They shouldn’t. Stagnation is actually bad juju.
Anyway, in my POV humans really never outgrow being toddlers. We get really, really enamored with something and then either drop it like Season 7 of Lost or we find a new homeostasis. That thing just gets integrated into our lives, because we dig it, but we are no longer all cray-cray with it.
Yes, “cray-cray” IS a legitimate business term.
See, I’m an entrepreneur and entrepreneurs love fixing broken stuff. We also hate it when businesses continue to be epically STUPID. In my book Rise of the Machines I go into more detail about all this jazz, but here is the elevator version.
The traditional paper model worked for a hundred years because there was no better way. But, when the world handed Borders and B&N a better way on a silver platter? They ignored it.
In the traditional model, agents and editors bank on previous sales to project future sales. This is why so many of your bookstores are all stocked with the same authors. Most of them big-name heavy-hitters. For the new author? This made (makes) breaking out next to impossible.
Most writers who are fortunate enough to make it into a bookstore are spine-out on a shelf and have to hope their last name lands them at eye-level because if they have no platform? Browsing Roulette is the best one can hope for. This is not the publisher being mean. Big names make the most money. Money means they actually have the means to publish new authors.
The fact that Amazon was going to dominate the e-book industry was a given. Low-hanging fruit. But, in my mind, I knew at some point it only made sense for them to at least try going brick-and-mortar. BUT, I knew this would probably only happen once the giants were dead or close to.
Now? Borders is a memory and B&N is struggling. Last I visited, they are now selling vinyl records, which is cool…albeit weird.
Amazon has always had several factors in its favor. First, it doesn’t have all the bloated overhead. It didn’t have giant 35,000 square foot stores on every corner. Then, B&N catered far more to traditional publishing. But, as we have all witnessed in recent rears, many of the breakout runaway successes did not come from traditional. Hugh Howey is a big one that comes to mind.
And even the books that DID sell a lot of copies (meaning generated revenue) that might have originally been traditionally published were backlist published by the authors themselves. Thus these profit centers (books) wouldn’t have ever been stocked by a B&N anyway because B&N generally only carried current stuff.
Amazon, conversely, was smart and saw the MAJOR advantage of compounded sales.
For instance in 2009, B&N had one new Bob Mayer NF for sale, Who Dares Wins (excellent book, btw). Hello! On Amazon now you can get everything that man has penned since the 80s, books the publishers no longer wanted but that were excellent books. Books I had to track down in secondhand stores before Amazon came along.
Bob was a New York Times and USA Today Best Selling Author and a damn fine writer, but NY publishing was only interested in one book at a time and the old stuff was old news. It’s why they handed Bob back his rights.
They weren’t going to do anything with those old books. WTH? I read ONE Area 51 book and hunted through every secondhand book store in DFW to get the series and NY had no interest in at least trying to put those in e-book?
Those suckers sold millions of copies when they were released. The stories were still awesome. They weren’t like the spinach I forgot in my vegetable crisper that grew e-coli and that would KILL you if you ingested after they were no longer available in print.
Anyway, NY didn’t want to republish them but, to Amazon? Ka-CHING! Why sell one Bob book when you can sell 50?
Back to brick-and-mortar.
Remember I said humans go through cycles. I think in the 90s we grew enamored with BIG. We loved the mega-store. Bigger was better until, frankly, it just got ridiculous. Do we really need to be able to buy a tractor at the same place we order our kid’s birthday cake?
Bookstores did the same thing. But stocking all these books (the same books) was really wasteful and this led to a major market contraction.
Okay the market snapped with more force than Kim Kardashian’s Spanx.
We snapped back the other direction. I love shopping on-line. OMG, I need a 12 Step group for my book-buying habit. But, frankly, I miss browsing a bookstore. We need bookstores!
Here Comes Amazon 😉
Because Amazon is smart. Amazon looks at where its competitors went wrong and it improves. That is the beating heart of true capitalism. Evolution. Amazon has every major component to make this work. I predicted they would do this back in 2012. Seriously, here is one of the posts.
And it was funny, because recently I was talking to my husband and wondering what was up. Amazon makes killer business decisions and deep down my gut told me I was right about them eventually opening a brick-and-mortar. I couldn’t be wrong about that. Everything about it made sense.
Then, *ANGELS SING* I saw THIS! Amazon opened its first REAL BOOKSTORE in Seattle YESTERDAY.
Amazon Has Algorithms
If they open more stores than the Seattle location, there is NO NEED to make a big store. The only reason for the megastore was because it was a scattergun effect. Stock enough titles and hope. Also stock BIG names and those probably would sell. If you had some weird outlier? An indie or self-pub that went viral? A new author who didn’t get a big enough print run? You missed it.
But Amazon knows who is selling. It has the data. It also knows not all areas have the same tastes in books. When the movie American Sniper came out, I guarantee you more copies sold in Texas. Probably more here in my town since I am right down the road from where Chris Kyle lived.
Also, Millennials love retro. Heck, most of us like retro. Retro is huge! Um, Star Wars? Sometimes an old book for reasons unknown could pop on the radar. Old Conan the Barbarian books or maybe early Ann Rice titles that suddenly lots of readers would love to have in PAPER.
What if you could strategically stock every store? Wait! Now, you can.
Amazon is Loyal to the Customer
They don’t care if we are indie, self-pub, traditional. Heck, Amazon doesn’t care if we can even write (a topic for another blog). But, if we publish a book of nothing but commas?
And people DIG THAT? Readers WANT that? Amazon will print copies of the book of nothing but commas and have plenty of them in stock to keep customers happy.
Amazon Gives Authors Advantage
In the old days, premium placement at a bookstore (or any placement for that matter) was negotiated beforehand by an agent. Now? If Amazon expands this brick-and-morter biz? They don’t care about politics. They care about profit.
We finally have a business model that is based off of merit. It rewards books that sell. Period.
Amazon IS Skynet
Amazon is omnifreakingpresent. They are everywhere and in everything and Hollywood is next on their radar. And yeah sure sure maybe their time will come if they rest on their laurels and get stupid, but for now? They are pretty hot stuff because they do smart stuff. And I hear we don’t have to take the mark of the Beast if we sign up for Amazon Prime 😀
They are bringing back a user-friendly bookstore. Small, efficient, and intimate like the B. Daltons of our youth, but customized to our tastes. We can buy paper books AND load up the Kindle. Also, I guarantee you there will eventually be kiosks in there to give us what we can’t find on shelves.
Can find it? Heck, they will ship it to us for FREE with a Prime Membership.
In my mind, this is great news for authors. I never really worried. I always knew there would be a place for the bookstore. I figured Amazon was doing exactly what it was doing (gaining a stockpile of talented authors who sold a crap-ton of titles, signing up most of the global population to Amazon Prime, gathering data and perfecting algorithms). The ridiculously large superstores? Not so much. That was just dumb business in my POV.
Yes, people love paper books. We love e-books. But the digital age has been a fascinating era of exploration. This new evolution of creating an actual bookstore is a boon for readers. They now have a browsing space where they can discover new books and physically touch them.
It also gives us writers a new goal to shoot for, because, frankly, making it onto the Amazon landing page was not in my “little girl” dreams when I envisioned my life as a successful writer.
Book signings are SUPER awkward when you break into people’s homes and it is really hard to personalize your signature when the cops are hauling you away in handcuffs.
What are your thoughts? Are you excited about the reinvention of the bookstore? Do you miss being able to walk through a small bookstore in your local mall?
I LOVE hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of NOVEMBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel.
I will announce OCTOBER’S WINNER later. Hubby STILL has flu and I need more time to figure out who won…because I have not slept in a freaking WEEK. Sorry. I love you.
For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.
Efficiency is a good business model, but it can take out an important component the calls to humans: soul. I love Amazon, but I also love the small house that’s a book store where you can sit in a nook surrounded by shelves and hear the rain on the roof while you hold a small child and introduce them to the glorious world of reading and books. That pleasurable experience can set a kid up as a reader for life. Kids also note anything that’s important enough for an adult to sit down and do is probably something they want to do, too.
Place for both types of book sources. Support your local bookstores!
But that is what they are opening up. They are opening small bookstores with shelves and helpers stocked with books regionally popular instead of one-size-fits all 🙂 . They are going…indie.
This is what’s so funny! Amazon, if it works, can manage to be The Big Bad Virutal Bookstore and also have actual small bookstores. I just want to see bookstores and authors getting paid. I think that is my bottom line. Whether it’s Borders or Amazon, I want to see books on shelves and people having access.
I love your comment–6 years ago, I began a holiday called Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, and with every novel I’ve had published, I go on what Shelf Awareness calls the world’s longest book tour–visiting over 1000 bookstores now. I like to think I support my local and non-local bookstore 🙂 I agree–there’s a place for both, and there do seem to be more and more kids seeing the irreplaceable magic in a bookstore.
I would call that a library. Good thing they’re still around. And: the books are free! (unless you turn them in late which would be me. Often.)
Our libraries are often too modern and not cozy/no nooks – and too loud. They do have free book swap shelves with take one leave one policies, but generally not children’s books.
oh dang!! That sucks. We have a pretty awesome library. It even has a fireplace.
Sounds fabulous – rain on the roof and a fireplace. Now that’s a reading spot.
Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.
I admire the heck out of your prescience re: social media–although, I’m not sure the conversion rates are there except for a few outliers. In other words, a few food bloggers blew up big online, and this translated to readers for their cookbooks. Or, EL James began as a fan fiction writer online. But for the vast, vast majority of authors out there, Tweeting their fingers raw, or madly Pinning and Posting, the feeling I’m hearing is, “This isn’t translating into readers.” I actually think the Big 6 then, and now the Big 5, were a little bit prescient themselves to hold off. Those who command their authors to, say, Tweet 13 times a day (yes, there is such a press, precisely demanding 13 Tweets per day), don’t report any sort of linear pay off to popularity or sales.
It may be that the only thing that works is the same that always worked–putting great work out there, availing yourself of whichever platforms feel viable, and praying for a little bit of luck and good timing.
As for the bookstore/digital issue, I’m not sure. The studies I’ve read say dedicated reader device sales are plummeting. Yes, people read on their smartphones, but from young to old, there seems to be a counterwave of, “There’s really nothing like print.”
B&N is struggling and Borders closed (B. Dalton too) because the department or big box store model when it comes to books probably doesn’t fit, for a whole host of economic realities. But independent bookstores–small, plastic, and catching a wave of love for local–are opening in greater numbers worldwide. A famous UK bookseller just removed Kindles from its shelves to expand its print stock.
It remains to be seen whether Bezos–an admitted non-book person–can make a kiosk model of physical stock add revenue for Amazon. It sounds a little like the way Red Box offers DVDs. But from what I’ve seen, traveling the country these last three years, what’s old is new again, and Amazon would be wise to stay within what it does remarkably well–while admitting there is a place for the alternatives.
I hope all our predictions come true, Kristen!
The counter wave of nothing like print is probably why Amazon is opening a physical bookstore. I knew it would eventually have to happen. The shiny would wear of off the all-e-book-all-the-time. But this is EXCELLENT NEWS for print and NY! They don’t have to do near as much guesswork with what print titles to stock. Amazon also works with traditional publishers and with their algorithms and data? No more Stocking Roulette which is WAY better news for authors, especially the newer lesser known authors.
As far as the authors doing social media and that not translating into sales? That is not accounting for how many are just simply doing it badly. Automating BUY MY BOOK! Or goofing off on Pinterest is NOT viable platform building and at the end of the day? We must write excellent books.
And there are actually A LOT of authors who did social media very well and who are making a fabulous income. There are numerous categories. You have the defected mid-list authors who published extensive backlists and then used social media to build traction (Konrath, Mayer, Eisler are the obvious ones who come to mind).
There are more than a few bloggers and YouTube personalities who eventually became successful authors. Jenny Lawson, Pioneer Woman, Jenn X Penn just off the top of my head. But social media is like anything else, the 5% rule generally still applies.
Quite a few romance authors who are able to write prolifically and keep pace with fans have done VERY well using social media and indie publishing. But, I don’t perpetuate that it is any kind of get-rich-quick. ALL of it is a 5% Game. We just have more options what field we prefer.
Yes, doing it badly is a good point, and I’m sure you’re right that that does play a role. I’m not saying social media isn’t useful, important, even to the extent of making some writers’ whole careers. I am saying that its usefulness has been overstated, from what I’ve seen, and in the face of a lack of complete understanding. We don’t really know what a good conversion rate would be from social media to book sales. When M&M Mars sends out a free promo, 10% conversion is considered success. Does the same translate to books? Less? More? Without such knowledge–which it would take more time and more organized, controlled studies to accumulate–I think the statements that any one writer “should” do X or Y need to be taken with a humble salting that we actually don’t really know.
But social media doesn’t work the same way as traditional marketing. Never has and never will. Even M&M Mars can’t get those conversion rates on social media. You can’t measure it directly. It’s impossible. That vanished with Web 1.0. Authors who have no presence? Have fun storming the castle. Whether we like it or not, social media (at SOME degree) is part of the job description. Granted, get your tail off Twitter and go WRITE and there is no get-rich-quick. BUT, if we think there is some Publishing Sugar Daddy who is doing to spend a million dollars getting a first-time author’s name out there who didn’t even take the time to sign up for Facebook? We need to stop eating the mushrooms we forgot too long in the fridge 🙂 .
I wonder if it’s really as different as all that. There could be studies–they’d just have to be carefully designed. It strikes me as possible that 90% of an author’s content is ignored, while 10% gets eaten/read. How much of that 10% goes on to grow a reader…my guess is it’s fractional. So whether that’s “worth it” remains to be seen. If you can reach millions, fractional adds up to a decent number.
Yes, right now if you’re not on FB/its newest cousin, you seem out-of-it and less effectual as an author. But whether that continues to be true is a big ole question. History is filled with examples of what-everyone-is-doing being requisite…till we learned that it had less of an effect than we’d hoped.
PS: The Pioneer Woman was an example I also would’ve chosen as a success story!
The problem is that if Amazon doesn’t expand and open bookstores, we have had a MAJOR POS (Point of Sale) contraction. Just the sheer NUMBER of physical locations a reader could even RUN INTO an author have gone away. It is almost all on-line. Without a digital footprint, an author has little help from algorithms or search engines.
What is the alternative you suggest? Since most people spend a majority of free time on social networks? How would you counter the problem of discoverability even for traditional authors? Hey, I am ALL ears 😀 .
It’s of course a great question, and (equally of course) I don’t have “the” answer. But I do have some thoughts, based on the traveling I’ve done over the last 3 years. The first is that I think exactly what you said–“a majority of free time on social networks”–may start to change. From what I’m seeing, all the connectedness is resulting in a disconnectedness that people are only beginning to feel. So I think we may in the next few years move away from our devices and farther outward into the world again. Not all the time–just some more of the time. And, hey, if Amazon book kiosks become part of that, more power to them. I just worry that Bezos doesn’t know books well enough to do it well, to really speak to book lovers (ironically).
The other thing is that I think there’s a strong population of people who never left the real world, who are still being discovered in bricks and mortar and F2F platforms. Since these experiences are taking place IRL, we don’t hear about them on social media as much–but they’re there. Every so often–probably about as often as a book goes viral online–there’s an author who rides his motorcycle around the US, hand-peddling his book, and breaks out. Or the like. So I think these things are happening, and our attention is just not as focused on it.
Personally, I love when the twain meet. When I do a book event, and a half dozen people Tweet pictures or Share it on FB, for me that’s the best of both worlds. I’ve been introduced to hundreds or thousands more people than I could meet at one go, AND I’ve gotten to trade smiles or hug people who are now friend-friends in addition to being FB friends.
Great conversation you started, Kristen!
Jenny, I think the answer is balance. Always has been and I am THRILLED we seem to be getting closer to that place 😀 .
I do miss the bookstores everywhere model. But Amazon makes everything sooooooo easy. I don’t know how many hundreds of books more I have now than I would have because of Amazon. And because most of the new ones are pixelated, I no longer have as much dust gathering and silverfish feeding going on in my house. I still want decor books and picture books to be in hard copy, and gifts I buy in hard copy….so I still enjoy going to Powell’s in Portland. And the local used book stores. The moment your blog told me Amazon opened a bookstore in Seattle, I was ready to zip up I-5 and pay a visit. I guess I’m promiscuous about books.
I’ve never understood the Apple fangirl/fanboy thing… but then along came Amazon, and I admit I’m a total Amazon fangirl. Love their thinking. Love their customer service. Love Amazon Prime. Have a first-generation Kindle (and a Kindle Touch, a Kindle Paperwhite, and two Kindle Fires). Love the Amazon Smile program.
AND, as an author, I love that they have given me the opportunity to jump into my own publishing. I’d been doing typesetting and proofreading for other companies and clients for decades, so to be able to use that skillset in pursuit of my own writing dreams has been a blessing beyond words.
Steve Jobs always gets the accolades about forward thinking, but I’ve always thought Jeff Bezos was nothing short of an unsung hero in that regard.
Kristen, great article. I do love browsing through a bookstore, but when I know that I want a specific book, it’s so nice to go online and order it. As authors, I think we have the best possible scenario and social media is wonderful as free advertising!
“They are going…indie.” I love it. Absolutely love it 🙂 And, do I think it will roll? You betcha! Because, as you said, Amazon does everything the smart way. They hold their horse back at the beginning of the race, knowing their steed can outrun them all, once they process the best path. I’m not NYT…or anything like it…but, I celebrate this. It offers hope, FOR EVERYONE 🙂 I think this will be a great success, because it’s blending everything. You can bet when one opens up near us, I’ll be there 🙂 Hopefully in more ways than one 😉 Thanks for this, Kristen. I enjoyed the well thought out information…and reading your predications from the past 😉 Lo
I love bookstores and hope one an Amazon opens in Austin, I’m 30 minutes away. But I do wonder if this will actually be helpful or not for Indie authors. I’m still not seeing a connection for Indie. I can’t wait to see what happens! Thanks for the fun and insightful post!
So, now my brain is thinking, how do you connect your novels to local wants? More marketing…
~ Tam Francis ~
Amazon holds no hard and fast loyalty to NY. If an Indie author is selling? They’ll stock it. For instance. We Are Not Alone hit #1 and it was in the top rankings of some decent categories like “Marketing.” It was the ONLY guide for social media at one point. Barnes and Noble, at the time, was taking a BEATING in the market. Yet, I had people writing me. They had gone into B&N and asked if they could order a copy of my book and were turned away because I was indie. The book was listed with Ingram. Amazon had no problem selling the heck out of it. But B&N refused to order copies even for people willing to prepay. When I said something, they had all these hoops I needed to get my publisher at the time to jump through and eventually I just gave up.
What business that is struggling to survive turns away PAYING customers?
So, the store is just another outlet for already successful authors. The Indie path is still through online sales. Got it. Thanks.
Every time I stop in at a small local book store—her in California, in Arizona, in Seattle—they all say they are doing better than ever. Copperfields here in Sonoma County is doing a bangup business.
How books are retailed may certainly evolve, and there may new advances that offer new means to deliver the books whether in e-format or printed form, but in the end, at least well into the foreseeable future is the fact that physical, printed books will remain in the mainstream through some means. People by our nature are kinesthetic – we have a desire to allow our senses of sight and touch to inspire our intellectual senses. Certainly some books or other printed material loses its value to the reader in a short period of time, but many books mark the test of time and survive on a bookshelf for the curious minds of the next generation. I am not sure there is an e-market means to ensure that connection between future generations. Granted with the myriad and myriads of books placed onto the market, there are a lot that will become dust collectors more than others, but call me hard-headed and old-fashioned but that stack of books on my night stand and on the shelves in my office and living room serve a purpose beyond decorating the rooms. The books span a century for many of them. As one famous opening said it, “It was the best of times and the worst of times.” I place my trust in the feel of the printed book in my hands as I read the printed lines on each page and maybe eye a drawing or picture before I flip to the next page before leaving a bookmark to mark where I’ll pick it back up at the next opportune time. No e-reader device can deliver that sensory experience and the joy it provides as I pass the book with a smile to my children and their children.
I loved your comment, Coach. I’m going to read it to my kids…
Okay…The post is about Amazon opening bookstores with printed books. How we are getting back our small bookstores with BOOKS. Am I missing something? I am sleep-deprived :). I agree. I love paper books, ergo why I am seriously excited.
Where do you get those metaphors that have me ROFL? Will you please do a follow up on this Amazon brick thing soon, like next week? (If anyone reading this hasn’t yet read Kristen’s Rise of the Machine, do yourself a favor and get it pronto.)
Reblogged this on Lenora's Culture Center and Foray into History.
I was very excited about this news when I saw it on Twitter yesterday. Amazon is brilliant at marketing and keeping up with what consumers want. As much as I love B&N (omg! Giant 2-story building full of books!), smaller Amazon stores (or even kiosks) stocked with content specifically targeted for a local area or demographic is super-appealing. I hope this experiment in Seattle takes off so they’ll open dozens more across the country!
I thought of you and this blog when I saw the news of the Amazon bookstore!
Yo Kristen. Solid fun piece that spoke the trufus.
Favorite line: “Do we really need to be able to buy a tractor at the same place we order our kid’s birthday cake?”
Answer: No, assuming both can be ordered and delivered by the same online business. 😉
something you said at the very beginning is something that I have also been saying.. but I’ll give you credit since you posted it. eBooks and paper books will and I think are right now reaching an equilibrium.
There are times when you go for the digital copy, but nothing will ever replace the touch or the smell of a book in your hand. I have found that I will read eBooks on my phone when I am standing in line, but when i am at home I prefer the paperback (or hardcover) in my hand. But with some books out of print an eBook is the only way to find it.
The Amazon book store may not last, but I kind of hope it does.
I am so excited about this. Seattle is my hometown and I go back every three months. I will def be hanging out at this store!
I read books on my phone too, to pass the time waiting in line or waiting for an appointment somewhere. It is great to have handy instead of staring into space, or trolling Facebook.
Another excellent and informative blog. I have mixed feelings about Amazon – as a consumer, I love them and my prime membership …. as an author, I resent them demanding that I only sign with them to have my titles in their select group … tried that for less than a week and will NOT got back. I also do not like the way they make unlimited sound like a great thing to lure us to enroll our books, then reduce what they pay.
You ARE a genius! And your book “Rise of the Machines” is pure gold. Thanks for being such an amazing resource for us!
Hope I won’t get kicked in the teeth by offering an opposing opinion… or feel myself pelted by excrement as Cersei did in her walk of shame on GoT (“Shame! *bell clang* “Shame!”) – (LOL!) — but I’m leery of Amazon.
While Amazon has been very shrewd in anticipating how people order online, and rely on algorhythms the way YouTube and other sites do – I do think there is a potential dark side to driving B&N out of business.
I squirm whenever I hear the word ‘monopoly.’
Years ago, I spoke to someone at Kirkus who told me that it’s always been hard to become a bestselling author, to stand out in the crowd. All of us crave this. If we study our craft and publish something that has critical merit, we convince ourselves that we’ll sell like hotcakes. Doesn’t happen that way, and I suspect it doesn’t matter much if it’s on an electronic format or a printed page.
Some of the publishing phenoms relate to timing – where our culture is and its receptivity to such a book. Why did “Peyton Place,” “Valley of the Dolls” and “Fifty Shades of Grey” sell so briskly when they did – late 50’s, mid 60’s, etc.. and better crafted novels didn’t?
There was a great PBS documentary on former singer/songwriter John Denver. His former producer tried to explain his monumental appeal. On paper, Denver’s success didn’t make sense. His songs were critically panned, his music didn’t fit neatly in any category. “But people loved him,” the producer said.
This producer said something to the affect – that you can put your product out there, and if it catches on, great, but even really terrific stuff can float around out there, in the universe, and not catch on in popularity.
Thing is, there is no explaining what catches like wildfire, and whether it’s an ebook or a traditionally printed book.
Some things catch fire instantly. Others “smoke” first and seem to languish, but are slowly growing, building to a critical mass.
Let’s look at Kristen’s blog. The content here is thought-provoking and the way she writes is highly entertaining. There are hundreds of writers who want to start blogs like hers – and they don’t catch on.
In the romance publishing realm, some of the people who tried to copy the success of “Fifty Shades” did very well – others did not.
I also think there is a dark side to technology addiction and I can’t speak for most folks, but for me, a printed book is a much more satisfying reading experience. And, if I’m not mistaken, there is some emerging evidence to support that we retain information better from a printed page… than we do on an electronic gadget.
I think iPhones and such are loaded with so many app’s that fool us – we think we can multi-task and we really can’t – studies show that only 2% of the population can ‘truly’ multi-task – and all these app’s do is distract us. They’re fun and I punch those colorful icons as fast as anybody. Online, I can’t read much of anything beyond a paragraph. If I read too much moveable type online, I become spastic and my ADD goes off the rails.
The NYT had a recent article about ebook sales:
“E-book sales fell by 10 percent in the first five months of this year, according to the Association of American Publishers, which collects data from nearly 1,200 publishers. Digital books accounted last year for around 20 percent of the market, roughly the same as they did a few years ago. E-books’ declining popularity may signal that publishing, while not immune to technological upheaval, will weather the tidal wave of digital technology better than other forms of media, like music and television.”
LOL, I never mind anyone disagreeing, but I don’t think we are disagreeing. I don’t care for monopolies. Wrote a LONG post about that and how Amazon could get just as dangerous. BUT, frankly, NYC was a monopoly for generations. What I love about the new paradigm is that old books continue to live. 15 years ago if a book went out of print? Hopefully you could find a used copy. Now? Maybe an author doesn’t take off immediately or even in his or her lifetime, but the work is always there to be discovered. Now that bookstores are reemerging in a more streamlined way, it seems reading can cater to what READERS want and how they read.
I can’t stand it when paper people beat me up about print being so superior. I have astigmatism. There were entire genres I had quit reading because of font size. If the font is too small, my eyes can’t focus and I keep losing my place.
With digital? I read more than ever before, because I put it on Dr. Seuss Font Size. I am probably single-handedly making authors rich with my e-book consumption. My 90 year old grandfather can enjoy reading again because he can adjust the print size.
Books are here to stay, one way or another.
Kristin, just shared this on my blog and S Media, bought your book and sent people to your site. This deserves to be read and discussed.
((HUGS)) Thank you!
RIVETED! RIVETED!!! Awesome post Kristen.
My daughter, 19, refuses, and I mean refuses to read ebooks. Not even my book until it came out in print. She’s always loved Brick-and-mortar and her head would explode (in a very good way) if Amazon opened stores that she could actually browse.
I LOVE paper in my hands, holding a book is tangible and delightful in so many ways, so I’m all for it.
And, yeah, you’re the effing Jedi of SM and authorly wisdom. You believe the book store will come back, I’ve got my light saber drawn to strike down anyone who says differently 🙂
Have a GREAT afternoon!
GREAT story. Just like LP covers, “real” books provided us designers a canvas that really meant something–it had to sell the product. I’m glad “real” bookstores are coming back (sort of). Note: take the apostrophe out of possessive “its.” Get well soon.
DANKE! Actually, so far I AM healthy albeit sleep-deprived. HUBBY is the one who has had the flu. Thanks for the catch!
Personally- I think no mall is complete without a bookstore. Also- I never gave up on Lost. Although I did think the ending was stupid…
I have a mix of physical and digital books. Not sure this wish fits exactly with your post today, but I really, really like the idea of kiosks for books where you can select a title and wait for the magic machine to print that book. Though I hunker down in my house a lot, I would venture down to the nearby mall just to watch a book-making machine. I have a fascination of machinery and watching things being made. If I can read that “thing” after it’s done–even better!
I love that this post generated to many comments… and I had to add that having been lucky enough to visit the store yesterday I was awed by what I saw. Their approach to the store doesn’t seem to be about selling at all…. no prices on the books, low inventory, no ability to take cash. What it IS about is the pure beauty of books. It was like they were showing how much they respect all of the hard work and artistry that goes into creating a story, a book. All the covers face out. You really SEE the books… And every one has a comment from a reviewer about why it is special. I know there are other reasons why the financial model will work for them… but for me, as an author, I could just appreciate the fact that each of us has a book that needs to be hugged at some point in our life.
WONDERFUL! Great to hear from someone who is there to SEE!
One of the biggest motivators for Amazon going brick and mortar is to sell their own imprints’ paper books. Amazon has most likely hit the wall as far as how many Amazon-imprint paper books can be sold online, and NO other brick and mortar book seller will touch Amazon-imprint books. From the indie bookstores to Barnes & Noble/Books-A-Million to Wal-Mart/Target, they ALL consider Amazon to be public enemy #1. So, if Amazon wants to sell paper books, this is how they have to do it. Which, of course, is great news for authors on Amazon imprints, AND this also opens a door for Amazon to finally be able to sell the Kindle best-sellers in print form, in a brick-and-mortar environment.
Yep ;). But, frankly they ALSO are a major traditional pub distributor, so this is ALSO great news for traditional authors. Less waste and better target ordering.
I agree! The Amazon store can feature trad-pub authors who get short shrift (or NO shrift!) at other brick-and-mortar stores. A trad-pub author who best-sells in the Amazon stores would gain more leverage for shelf space elsewhere, so yes we get another ‘opportunity’ here. 🙂
Do you remember having a favorite sales person at your local record store? The one that had amazing taste and always knew of a great new release that would blow your mind? *sigh* Records and print books. Any resurgence on either front is a win in my book. <<See what I did there?
Oh, dear you’ve misused it’s. Under your Here Comes Amazon paragraph you use it’s several times instead of its. Must have been pretty excited, eh?
Nah, exhausted. Nano and Hubby has flu. I will check again…. Thanks for the catch!
Way to go Kristen. You nailed it then, and now you explain what you saw, and why Amazon is good for all us authors. Can’t wait until we get one here in Willits. How about offering a class on how authors can get the best out of Amazon? Or maybe you already offer such a class.
I’d never considered it from these viewpoints before, Kristen, but it totally makes sense (I only started following your blog last year, so I was not privy to all of the fantastical crystal-ball predictions you’ve been making for years now. Any more of those coming up, by the way? I want to have the opportunity to grin and say, “I already knew that because Kristen told me it was going to happen” when the next big thing lands.)
Anyway. Sorry. Got sidetracked. Sharing on Twitter right now. Awesome post, as always!
(And what if you offer to sign the handcuffs when the police come for you…? Sorry, just a thought. :>)
I am one of those old stick-in-the-mud WANT TO TOUCH IT people. I want that book in my hand. I want to be able to read in the bathtub without fear, drag that baby to a beach and not deal with glare, and whip out that book and flip through and smell it. And with children? They want that physical experience. My kids want to hold it, point to it, park it on the floor with pillows and turn pages. Maybe I’m just a grumpy old lady, but digital devices have zero “cozy factor” for me. Books top my Comfort List. Bring those brick and mortar stores back and I am THERE.
Boy, I miss B. Dalton. Sigh.
Me TOO! I miss a small store. Just books. No toys or records or puzzles or origami. JUST BOOKS. With clerks who were well read. And BACKLISTS. From one of the commenters, apparently the new Amazon store is doing just that, SHOWCASING BOOKS.
Reblogged this on Nancy Segovia and commented:
Indies- The time has come Amazon has brick and mortar book stores!
YAY! KRISTEN’S RIGHT AGAIN! I had a gut feeling that bookstores would never really go away–change, maybe, but never vanish completely–so I awaited the vindication of your prediction with the faith of a true believer. (Been following your blog since 2010 so I knew your track record.) You’d think the Big 5 would kidnap you, put you in a locked room, and force you to predict the next marketing trend and THIS TIME, listen to you.
I’m waiting for the day when you pick your book off their computer and it prints right there at the store
Great analysis. I agree that both formats are here to stay. I really hope B&N doesn’t just survive, but figures out how to thrive. A healthy, competitive market is great for all of us.
I love books. E-books are fine, but I love the sight, the heft, the feel, the scent of books- of old books and new books-, the sounds- the rustle of pages. Taste, alas, is left out.
That said, I will buy certain books- typiclaly technical at some level- in e-books. For travel I might have several e-books on my iPad, just so my backpack isn’t all books.
Mty first novel is coming out in paper first, with the e-book hot on its heels, and something special right after that. We’ll see where things go from there.
I linked to this blog on my FB author page (https://www.facebook.com/milesonealauthor).
Reblogged this on Chronicles of a Nerd and commented:
More great stuff!
Great article! I love entrepreneurs that grow into big business and anything that gets people reading is fab for me. Just wish Amazon would pay a fair amount of tax in each country where they generate sales. X
My reaction, as an author … I just don’t trust Amazon. Historically, they have been terrible to authors and terrible for publishing. Amazon is a bully. And really, the Amazon marketplace is just so enormous, how can anyone expect to compete there without devote several lifetimes to nothing but self promotion?
The main reason Borders went out of business is because they had appalling customer service. B&N thrives because they push customer service heavily. They expect you to ask questions and are ready with recommendations — unlike Borders, which basically made you look stuff up yourself. I can’t even imagine a world where a physical Amazon bookstore would be more like B&N than Borders. Amazon doesn’t employ helpful people; they are the epitome of automation and — as you point out – algorithms. Not my kind of bookstore. As a buyer or seller. Sorry.
Well the thing is it won’t matter. It will still be good for writers. Amazon’s algorithms are still something that can help indie bookstores become viable which is needed since B&N is experiencing record contraction. Indie bookstores can’t afford to stock a bunch of stuff that won’t sell.
I think it’s awesome, personally. Everyone loves to hate on Amazon, because they have a highly effective business model. But as an indie, Amazon has given us opportunities we would not have had otherwise. These brick and mortar stores are another fantastic opportunity for the glass half-full types. 😉
Hi Kristen, I was cleaning up my inbox and came across your post on Amazon Brick and Mortar. Incredible, I just noticed the other day that a small supermarket in town, in Italy, installed an Amazon Locker. I couldn’t believe it.
I’m in a dip right now because I have to get rid of my publisher, too many problems, such as they forgot to register my copyright with the US copyright office? My books are all over the web as a free .pdf download – you have to login and pay something to download. My publisher does not answer my questions regarding royalties for books downloaded on these websites.
In your book Rise of the Machines, I believe you mentioned not to publish with AH. Pity I bought your book after signing a contract with them. As for Goodreads, get in and get out, also true. I gave a way a few books and got 3 reviews and then found my book on a website. It was donated to this company Listia something like Ebay. It read free giveaway with blurb AND it said signed by author. I was upset. I guess we learn from trial and error. I will read your book again, just in case I missed something. I hope I didn’t get confused with Anne R Allen’s, E-Age book.
Your posts are great, how is Spawn doing? Best regards EAP
Eleanor Ann Peterson
On 4 November 2015 at 16:23, Kristen Lamb’s Blog wrote:
> Author Kristen Lamb posted: ” Man, I SO love being right. Not to brag, but > those who’ve followed me any amount of time know my tract record for > predictions is pretty darn impressive. Back as early as 2006 I knew social > media was going to be a game changer for novelists. Until soci” >