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Friday, July 25, 2014

Have You Visited the Harper Collins Bookstore?


Book publishers have long been criticized for the following:

·         Being elitist gatekeepers as to what gets published
·         Failing to put publicity or marketing muscle behind most of their titles
·         Being late in meeting publishing deadlines
·         Failing to brand the name of the imprint or house
·         Underpaying and overworking its employees
·         Giving out advances to books that will never earn out
·         Not giving big advances to more deserving authors
·         Being slow to change and respond to the new marketplace
·         Not printing enough copies of a book and then being too slow to reprint
·         Seizing editorial control of the cover, title, and content and then not listening to the input of authors

The list goes on, most of it true, with of course exceptions to all of them.  But the big issue facing publishers is now about how they will sell directly to consumers.

On one hand, selling to consumers directly gives them a chance to cut out the middleman – wholesalers – and offers a chance to build a brand and customer base by skipping the retailer.

On the other hand, bookstores will get pissed off and struggle to survive.

Amazon’s ebooks won’t be impacted because only Amazon can sell the kindle version and the vast majority of ebook readers are Kindles.

Publishers should sell directly to consumers, but hopefully it is in a way that doesn’t hurt bookstores.  For instance, Random House sells physical books directly to consumers but offers no discounts.  Obviously, they won’t sell many books this way, but if they do, it won’t injure stores that offer discounts.  Penguin offers its website shoppers to buy books, but it provides options to use six traditional retailers.

Hachette, in a battle royale with Amazon, is the only big publisher not to sell directly to consumers.

Simon & Schuster, for the most part, sells to consumers without discounts but does offer free shipping for orders of $25 or more.

Harper Collins just relaunched its website, featuring a bigger emphasis on direct sales to customers.

What would make sense is to see bookstores owned by publishers.  Why not go to Times Square and enter the flagship store for Penguin Random House?  The store would only feature titles published by PRH.  Of course, the danger is that consumers aren’t being exposed to a diverse selection of titles.  Bookstores like B&N sell titles of all publishers – big and small – even self-published ones.  Perhaps there should be a new chain of bookstores that have investments from publishers, but still, would such stores give a disproportionate share of shelf space to its investing companies?

What we need are reading centers – places where we can have a sense of community for those who congregate.  We think of bookstores this way but should the retail market continue to erode, we would encourage governments, charities, publishers, and schools to form an alliance to encourage the creation of reading centers that combine the lending of a library, the learning environment of a college campus, the retail of a bookstore, the recommendations and reviews of a newspaper/magazine, and a place where authors can speak, readers can interact, and anyone can just come and feel welcomed.

I’m getting ahead of myself.  Before stores go under and publishers die out, we must determine how publishers should sell to consumers and ensure the book ecosystem remains balanced, fair, and supportive of all the key parties and their interests.


Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Publishing Needs Socialism to Save It


Let me just state up front that I love America and wouldn’t live anywhere else but, I also believe there’s room for a blend of socialism and capitalism to exist in a democratic society, and when it comes to how books are sold or treated, I prefer what the French and other advanced nations do.

They protect books and the printed word. I applaud them—and so should you.

Here in the U.S., thanks largely to Amazon, books have become commoditized. You can buy clothes based on price—or a desk or the hotel you vacation at. But books should not be purchased based on price alone.

Sure price is a factor. One may buy a used book vs. a new one, to save money. Others will buy a paperback rather than the higher-priced hardcover. But when books become so devalued and sell at a loss, you have to question how such pricing helps the long-term viability of books.

In the U.S. it seems the publishing market is ruled by one company—Amazon—and five major conglomerate publishers—and one physical retailer (Barnes & Noble). When Amazon makes a change, the publishing industry trembles and acquiesces.

But the Hatchette-Amazon battle is now being waged and the repercussions of it could dictate the fate of publishing’s long-term viability. However, in other countries, books are a much healthier product.

In France, where Amazon only owns 10-12% of the book market—but 70% of online sales, Amazon is contained because of laws passed to protect and support bookstores and publishers.

The law says online sellers can’t offer free shipping on discounted books. Further, booksellers can’t offer more than a 5% discount off a book’s cover price.

I wish it were that way here.

In Germany, books can’t be discounted. In fact, six of the 10 biggest book-selling countries have versions of fixed book prices—Japan, Italy, Spain, South Korea, Germany, and France.

Britain used to have a fixed-price system into the 1990s—but once it abandoned it the book world was hit hard. A third of its independent bookstores closed in the past nine years, as supermarkets and Amazon discounted some books by more than 50%.

In France, where only 3% of book sales are e-books, 70% of its citizens report having read at least one book last year. The average among French readers is 15 books a year.

Many products and services can and should compete, in part, on price, but I believe staunchly that books cannot be commoditized. To preserve the value of books, we must take the finances out of the equation. Yes, I want a touch of socialism to support the liberty of books. Save the price wars for sales of widgets, not books.


Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Come With Me Now,If You Want Your Book To Live


In one of the great Terminator movies a critical point comes when Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character says, "Come with me now if you want to live.” Well, Amazon has dropped a bomb on the publishing world with its new Netflix-type plan for eBooks, and all I can say is it’s time to fight back. Come with me now if you want your book to live.

A new service, Kindle Unlimited, allows those who pay just $10 a month, for unlimited access to its catalog of 600,000 ebooks. This is one of the worst things for the book publishing industry.

It limits publishing and author profits, it gives an extremely unfair advantage to Amazon over Barnes & Noble, it furthers the price disparity between print and digital, and commoditizes books like never before. 

How is any of that good for the public?

The big five publishers have wisely opted out of this service, but it still leaves plenty of publishers and books to join in. Big-name publishers are involved, such as Scholastic and Houghton Mifflin.

The all-you-can-read version is not new to publishing, but had been limited to smaller companies, such as Oyster and Scribd.  Oyster offers titles from six of the top 10 publishers and Scribd consists of big publishers, such as Simon & Schuster, Wiley, and Harper Collins.

It’s a destructive model to use for book publishing. This is not the movies or music. Movies can earn full fare in the theaters. They then can sell the DVD. They can also sell it to cable/networks to air—and then make it available on Netflix. But books get one shot to sell and there aren’t ways to make money beyond selling a book to a customer.

Books are a lifeblood to America. They double-check the media, the government, and other forms of communication. They offer ideas, information, insight and inspiration—our country can’t afford for books to falter.

When you screw with the economics of book publishing you alter the landscape of how things are disseminated. When profits for authors decrease, there’s less incentive for them to publish a book.

If people start buying through the all-you-can-read menu, they will start to take business away from new books that are not on that bulk offering. For instance, if you only want to read what you can get under the $10 a month plan, you won’t make budget or time available for new books or books not in that plan. People will skip the new phase and wait for books to be back-listed and tossed in to the heap of all-you-can-read.

I think that publishers are suicidal to participate in this. First off, it will kill book sales. Second, it will further erode their brand. Third, it gives more powerful attention to Amazon and that is the opposite of what they should do.

The problem in battling this is that consumers won’t complain about this at all. They will gravitate towards it in droves. Why wouldn’t they?

The more Amazon draws people in, the more likely other holdout publishers will join in, further leading to the capitulation of book publishing.

Soon, a person will spend more in park fees for two days at Disney than they will for an entire year of reading books. That’s a disgrace!

What will then happen, once Amazon has hooked in enough readers and further taken control of publishing, it will publish more books—but not thrust them into the book buffet—and it will raise the monthly fee faster than the rate of increases in the sectors that outpace inflation, such as college tuition and health insurance.

It’s another dark chapter for publishing and Amazon is leading the way for its ruination.



Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

First To 100 Million Likes! So What?


Shakira, the exotic-dancing, bi-lingual singer, has made history this year when her Facebook page generated its 100 millionth “like” – about 8% of its 1.28 billion monthly active users globally.

The whole “likes” thing is stupid, but I’m impressed that someone figured out how to convince enough fans to “like” her to the point she is the first to such a huge benchmark.  Of course, “likes” don’t necessarily translate into sales.  In the five years it took her to go from 318,000 likes to 100,000,000, she did not sell anywhere near 100 million albums.  But, in a nice 23-year singing career in which she won two Grammys, eight Latin Grammys, and five MTV VMAs, she has sold 60 million albums and is worth $220 million.  But she was famous and successful way before the FB likes campaign.

I don’t like the “likes” campaign because it is not an indicator of anything other than good marketing.

She had a YouTube video viewed 236 million times and in one hour she earned 162,000 likes.  On Twitter she “only” has 26 million followers.  There should be more congruency of those numbers.

As of two years ago, the “most-liked” company was Coca-Cola with 47.6 million likes.  Hard to believe a company of that size and stature got half the likes of Shakira.  Disney only had 37.8 million likes – about a third of Shakira.  McDonald’s got a fifth of her – 21.7 million likes. 

Maybe these companies should hire her as a spokesperson.

Interestingly, less than two years ago, Shakira had 54.8 million likes – which put her 7 million behind Rihanna and 6.5 million behind Eminem.  Looks like she caught up.  A dead man, Michael Jackson, was ranked fifth with 51.9 million likes two years ago.

The only “likes” that matter are sales. 

If you like me, buy my book.  I don’t care what you think of me or if you follow me online or if you enjoy what I say or do.  The only consumer vote that counts is one made with a credit card.  That’s what most writers or musical artists must really think.

Likes are worthless.  Sites offer to sell “likes” for cheap.  For $480 one site offers 50,000 likes with “lifetime replacement” and a “money back guarantee.”  What bullshit.

Now, not saying Shakira or any of the stars participate in buying likes BUT, if one can buy a million likes for under 10,000 bucks, then one can get 100M likes for under a million dollars.  Then you get more than a million dollars worth of publicity, album sales, and concert tickets as a result of getting so many likes.  

I think some of these “likes” totals are inflated but even if they’re not, who really cares?!


Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

Will 5 Companies Run The Media?


There are only six companies that own most media --TV networks, move studios, publishers, magazines, and newspapers. If Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox takes Time Warner over, there’ll be five.

·         Comcast is worth $142.7 billion
·         Disney is worth $149.2 billion
·         CBS is worth $34 billion
·         Time Warner is worth $62.6 billion
·         21st Century Fox is worth $78.4 billion
·         Viacom is worth $36.4 billion

These are powerful forces of influence. In the digital world, there are titans too—Netflix, AOL, Google, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, Print has a few powerful organizations such as Gannett, Associated Press, The New York Times and magazine conglomerates such as Hearst and Conde Nast, and book publishers such as Penguin Random House wield a lot of power. How can we insure all voices are heard when it comes to what is published, produced, and reported?

There is a danger when just a handful of people can decide what gets talked about. The Internet is just an extension of these forceful media owners. All the blogs in the world can’t counter what people consume from the networks and the studios attached to them.

There’s an interesting book out about media manipulation called 955 Lies, by Charles Lewis. In his book, he documents how ABC News and CBS’ 60 Minutes would often squash a story critical of the powerful and connected.

We must each be vigilant in pursuing the truth, discussing controversial ideas, and in analyzing our behavior. The mass media is just a giant illusion when it comes to being a democracy of news, art, and entertainment.

As authors, you can play a role in making sure all ideas are explored, that all of history isn’t forgotten, that current events are not ignored, and that our imaginations are stimulated and inspired to find the cure to media conglomerate mania.


Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

Will Books Be Here In 100 Years?


What do Babe Ruth, Greyhound, and World War I have in common? They each debuted a century ago. Most things don’t get discussed a hundred years after they’ve been launched and they just die out with the generation they grew up with. But Babe Ruth still remains an iconic sports figure, Greyhound still buses people across the nation, and World War I is still the second biggest war ever fought. 

What will we discuss a century from now? What will have the lasting power?

Babe Ruth was a legend in his day because he significantly outperformed his competition and he was a winner and his private life was quite interesting, if not scandalous for his day. Great players have come since him, but few have been as successful, as interesting.

Greyhound became a leader of a developing technology. Long-distance buses were new in 1914. Automobiles were only mass-produced less than a decade earlier. We take the bus for granted today and most prefer planes or even trains, but it still serves a purpose in society.

World War I led to World War II and shaped foreign policy for much of the past century. It was a bloody war that featured things not previously seen, such as war planes, advanced machine guns, and expanded use of submarines.

No one can predict what will last 100 years and continue to be used, talked about, and viewed as being significant, but it seems likely that Apple, Google, Amazon, and some of today’s leading tech companies will be part of our history for decades to come. They each shaped commerce, technology, communication, and the Internet during a time when so many new websites, services, and companies sprouted up seemingly overnight.

We have to wonder if books will be with us 100 years from now. Will the big five publishers be around? Will Barnes & Noble or Amazon be with us? Economics, technology, and other factors will influence the answers to these questions.

Of course we all hope and even assume books will always be with us, but after seeing the changes of the past decade, I do wonder where books will be once I have expired. I always think my writings will live beyond me and will be my contribution to society, but maybe they won’t. I have never really confronted the possibility that my words—and ideas, thoughts, and experiences—will just disappear as if they were never created.

I guess anyone reading this blog will not be around to confirm what’s in existence in 2114, but if you make it, please tweet this post.  


Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Optimism & Assertiveness Aren’t Enough to Promote Your Book


Being optimistic, confident, aggressive, intelligent, people savvy, and a great communicator make for the resume of a very good book publicist. But could these abilities also handicap one from being successful?

Before you say: What are you talking about? think of why these traits may burden promoters and even work against them.

First, because one has confidence and optimism, this person may not work as hard at obtaining all of the information and resources he may need to make his efforts a success. Think about it. If your attitude is so positive to the point it blinds you from the real drawbacks or challenges attached to what you are promoting, you will over-rely on one skill but underserve your client as a result.

Second, you may be good with words, but you can’t always put lipstick on a pig. Sometimes you need to work harder at showing the merits behind what you push and not to just push as if what you have is the best beyond belief.

Third, you can be assertive or aggressive but it only gets you so far if there’s no depth or substance to what you are pitching. Make sure you have the meat to support the sizzle.

Fourth, knowing how to deal with people is an invaluable skill, but again, people will still need to see something behind the beautiful fa├žade of what you present.

Whatever skills and strengths you have, you’ll lean heavily on them in order to get what you want out of life, and especially as a book promoter. But look beyond your assets and see what else you can learn, do, say, or share that will make you better and position you for success.

Many promoters think about what they have to offer and how they’ll present it but they don’t make enough effort to give ammunition to their claims. Catchy subject lines get emails opened by the media, but then you need some ideas that can be delivered with backup and support.

Seeing opportunity everywhere is a beautiful skill and frame of mind to operate under. But just remember to bring along the facts and figures to give shape and meaning to your claims and assertions. Do your research, practice, and explore things further.

A pretty face gets you a date, but not a marriage proposal—and an attention-getting solicitation to the media gets them to listen, but make sure you really have something to say!


Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014