Reviving a falling business

by Ashvini on September 24, 2013 · 5 comments

in Business,General

Recently I went to a bookshop which was one of the best bookshops in the city. It is located in a five star hotel, which means that it attracts premier clientele. A good location and good clientele may indicate that the shop is probably raking in profits.

However it was actually in a sad state. The books were almost lying there unsold and they even gave an odour as if left there to die. I felt sad because authors of the books need to work very hard to write a book ( I have written a few and I know how much effort it is ) . That books are now not selling or are selling at a discount is a sad reminder that how much unprofitable the book business has become . The cost of delivering a book at the shopping store has become prohibitive while the prices stagnate leading to low margins for both authors and publishers.

It was not so in the nineties when famous book authors wrote thrillers which you desperately wanted to read. Authors such as Frederik Forsyth ( The Day of the Jackal), Robert Ludlum ( the awesome Bourne series) and Jeffrey Archer ( Kane and Abel ) wrote such books that you wanted to read all of them. Even people who could not buy the original purchased pirated editions just to read them. The authorship was so strong that every book of known authors was read , dissected and critically analyzed. Compared to those books, the thrillers of today just mean to evoke specific feelings in the reader and not to command a lifetime of readership.

I believe that book business can be saved . The number of topics on which books can be written are ever increasing and so are the people with new skills. The decline has probably other reasons, mainly lack of innovation.

Here are a few suggestions for any business that has been decimated by lack technology ( specific to books business)

  • Book publishers  need to transform themselves into media managers for books and authors
  • The book industry needs to effectively use social media to build up marketing for upcoming books
  • The book industry needs to encourage book clubs and author- reader interactions.
  • The book industry needs more advertising and not less.
  • It needs to support the point of sales ( for example book stores). Without book stores there will be no flipping of pages by customers and hence no sales will happen. They can even buy book stores and make them exclusive to their publishing house.
  • Concentrate on better content. A good picture book for example can never be replicated online in a similar look and feel.
  • Become lean. Bring out more books than ever, introduce new author , reduce writing to market time by employing technology.
  • Reduce cost by innovating on logistics.
  • Funding the research for writing books that are authoritative.

Frankly the only to revive a falling business is to out-innovate and use technology to its advantage. Doing lesser than this is not going to make things easy.

About The Author

{ 5 comments }

Dee Ann Rice October 6, 2013 at 7:30 am

Ashvini,

I know that book sales have plummeted with the advent of Readers and other digital devices that can be used to read books with out actually buying the hard copy of it. I have actually bought several books and read them on my phone as I always have it with me and it is convenient. I always have my phone with me so I always have a book with me.

I also know that I have continued to purchase the hard copies though. I know my son and daughter are also purchasing the hard copy of books. There is just something about having a book you can hold verses a book in digital form.

I would hope that as the novelty of the digital book wanes more people will go back to buying the hard copy a book. This is all the more reason for publishers and book sellers to take the steps you have laid out in this post. Your suggestions will help bring people back to buying real books instead of digital books.

Good post and excellent suggestions.

Dee Ann Rice

Ashvini Kumar Saxena October 8, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Hi Dee Ann,

Thanks for your comment :).
I felt a little sad when I saw the condition of the book shop that I mentioned. It seemed that they had forgotten how to innovate and learn from the time. I believe that book business is so beaten down that book publishers and shops have stopped investment in there completely. In Bangalore , recently a very old book shop closed down and another one shifted to a place where rent was not so high.
It is strange that online stores can sell books which are hardcover while the retail outlets close down. Surely there is something missing. I just ordered two books from online store because it is very boring to go to a book shop and not get what you are looking for.
I hope they innovate and things get better . This is a business we all want to be successful.

Emmanuel September 30, 2013 at 10:38 pm

It’s soo sad seeing how deteriorating things are going in the world of books. Technology is taken over now and everything must dance to the tune of it.

Jeevan Jacob John September 25, 2013 at 3:09 am

Great points.

I think the reason that book business is failing is because of technology – not using SM and other online channels to promote your book + the advent on online book stores such as Kindle.

It is so much easier to buy a Kindle Book online (that too for a cheaper price) and read it rather than ordering it manually (online or offline).

But, promoting your book in the right way can still help to sell hardcover books (there is a huge market out there for books – People who are starting to be literate, plus people who support reading through print books over other devices).

Anyways, appreciate the story and insights, Ashvini :)

Ashvini Kumar Saxena October 8, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Hi Jeevan,

True. I believe that they are not innovating enough. There is a market for online reading and there is a market for paper books. However I see book publishers falling behind. The only way a business can survive is by adapting to new realities.

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