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.