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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Does Book Publishing Pricing Hurt Sales?



In 2016, according to sales estimates released by the Association of American Publishers, the total number of book units sold was 40,000,000 more than in 2015 - up to 1.2% - but revenue declined by 5.1% - to 26.24 billion dollars.  To me, the only conclusion one can draw from this, is that publishers aren’t charging enough for books.

Who sells 40 million more units but sees revenue decline by 420 million dollars?

There are some positives, however, in the data:

·         Trade sales were up 1.5% but other areas declined.
·         Adult fiction was the only segment within trade books to decline.
·         Print sales rose, e-books fell, and downloadable audio doubled its 2012 total.
·         Mass market paperbacks only fell .4%.
·         Adult non-fiction, is the largest revenue provider at $5.87 billion, up over 5% from a year ago.
·         Religious presses soared nearly 7% in revenue in one year.
·         Children’s books and YA jumped by 6.7%.

Book publishers must raise their prices.  Stores and vendors like Amazon or B&N can choose to pass along discounts to consumers if it wishes, but publishers need to be financially healthy.

It is great that more books sold last year than in 2015, because that could indicate an expansion in the number of book buyers or it means voracious readers are expanding their reading.  Or maybe more people chose to buy discounted books as presents.

Publishers Weekly, in analyzing the data, suggested that adult fiction declined steeply because there was a lack of a big book “as was the inability of novelists to get media attention while the broadcast and cable networks covered the presidential election.”

What I find to be remarkable is that non-fiction adult trade books is doing so well.  This is the exact category of content the Internet, with all of its free blogs, resources, and data was supposed to make outdated and obsolete for book buyers.  Instead it’s seeing a resurgence.

I expect to see book sales rise for 2017.  Why? I’m an optimist who bets on books every day. I think with more indie stories and even Amazon brick and mortar coming out, we’ll see higher sales. I also believe in a non-election, non-Olympics, war-free year, and an improving economy, we’ll see more media covering books and more people looking to enjoy the escape books provide us.

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Complete Author Book Marketing & PR Toolkit for 2017


Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. 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 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sometimes We Can’t Rewrite The Ending



I didn’t realize how much I love dogs until I first got one at age 26.  I had just moved into my first house and I received a basset hound as a gift. Brandy was a wonderful treat with her big, floppy ears and disproportionately long body and stump legs. 

She had a deep bark with so much sound coming out of her odd-shaped body.  She would be the first of many dogs to leave me. 

The latest one, Daisy, an English Bulldog, was put down on August 11th, which coincided with my 15th wedding anniversary.  She represented love, so perhaps it was fitting. 

No ending of life is ever good and it can get messy.  This one was complicated by the fact my wife and I were hoping she could last to say goodbye to our nine-year-old daughter.  We had Daisy for 7 of her 8 years and my daughter has loved her since she was only two.  They had a very close relationship.  My daughter went to sleep-away camp for the first time and her seven weeks ended the day after we put Daisy to sleep. 

We just couldn’t let Daisy suffer any longer.  

She hadn’t eaten in four days nor urinated in two days.  Her body was breaking down, ravaged by lymphoma.  She only made it 16 days after she was diagnosed.

Daisy’s story – and ours – is perhaps no different than what tens of millions of dog owners will go through.  We loved her with all of our hearts and enjoyed every moment with her snorty, farty, playful self.  Her imperfections – a face that looked like it was hit by a truck -- provided appeal.  

Have you ever seen a bulldog run?  She did move, in her younger days, and would animatedly bump into other dogs at the dog run.  Then she would plop down like a bear rug, pant, and watch the other dogs flag balls down.

She was in decent shape for her breed. She got up to 50 pounds but was athletic enough to roll over for a belly rub or engage in tug of war.  Daisy loved to nudge us with her toys at ten or eleven at night, just as I was settling into TV time. She also used to sharpen her teeth on our shoes but it took her longer to outgrow grabbing for my daughter’s many stuffed animals.  

Daisy had health issues over the years – cherry eye, allergies, and a case of mercer.  Even with pet insurance, she cost thousands of dollars to care for, but she was worth it just as she was worth the stress and sadness that comes with putting her down and suffering that loss.

Now, for the first time since we had children, we are dogless.  

We lost Buzzy, a 15-year-old pug that we adopted at age 7, five years ago.  He overlapped with Daisy for almost two years.  We also lost Lulu, another pug that we adopted, when she was hit by a school bus while on a leash.

As a kid growing up in a Brooklyn apartment, a dog wasn’t on the menu.  But we had turtles, fish, parakeets, and a rabbit over the years.  It’s amazing how much animal life one can experience and how it can still hurt when you lose one of these critters.

I couldn’t help script the ending for my daughter to say so long, but we did the right thing by Daisy and we’ll miss her.  She’s given us great memories and photos and soon her passing will even lead us to a new dog to love and hold and eventually lose as well.

We learn about life through death.  A little over a year ago.  I experienced human loss when my dad died.  Look, the most precious beings and the best things in life are fragile and vulnerable.  That’s the rules to living on this planet.  But even knowing this – and accepting the terms – I can’t help but feel a little lonelier and empty for having lost Daisy.

My wife, 12-year-old son, and I were with Daisy in her final moments as the vet administered not medicine but a toxic dose of anastesia to put her to rest. We all caressed her meaty body and hit-and-run face. The process was familiar to us from when we did this with Buzzy a little over five years ago.

Daisy went from struggling to breath to silence, and peace settled into the room. Mixed feelings of relief and sadness bathed us.

Surprisingly Olivia has taken it well. She asked us if the fish was alive as soon as she came off the camp bus. When she asked why didn't we bring Daisy at pickup we told her what happened. She thought it was a joke at first, in total shock.

She asked to see her and we called the vet and luckily she had not yet been carted for cremation... so we went. They took her out of the freezer and I think it helped my daughter heal.

Daisy was a cool dog who made the last seven years with us a wonderful time. We fondly look back at people she took a piece out of: friends Bruce and Keith, a back-up mail lady, two dry cleaners, and a handyman. Plus she was a TV star a few years ago when the local CBS TV news filmed her after coming out post-blizzard to chew the snow and take a romp in it. I can feel her around me. She is farting snd snoring in dog heaven.

Hey we knew going into this that having a great pet means a hard ending. They ingratiate themselves into our lives and become a part of the very fabric that we wear. If it hurts so much it is because we loved her so much and that is a good thing.

But her ending will bring a new beginning for us.  For Daisy, I hope she’s playing in dog heaven, perhaps with Brandy, Lulu, Buzz or others.  We’ll miss you, Daisy Dukes.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. 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 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs 

Monday, August 14, 2017

To Promote Books, Focus On What You Can Do, Not On What You Can’t



“Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

Those words were stated by the legendary college basketball coach, John Wooden.  He could have been talking directly to you.

How often do you complain, whine, criticize, or lament that something isn’t going your way, that you fall short in an area, or that others disappoint you?  It’s only natural to participate in such behavior or negative thinking, but it’s useless.  Actually, it’s detrimental to your success as an author.

You mustn’t list all of your weaknesses or victimizations, or denote what you lost, don’t have, or can’t get.  No, you have to think about what you do have, what’s obtainable, what’s a strength.  Build on what you have and who you are, not on what isn’t or can never be.

Call upon your confidence, character, passion, energy, vision, creativity, connections, and sense of purpose to drive you to success.  If you merely bitch about this person or stew over some missed opportunity or merely dream of what you want without having a plan to actually realize it you waste your time.

This all comes down to your attitude and how you approach things.  Your core personality may be a result of your genes, environment, upbringing and circumstances, but if you can take control of it, you should.  You must!

It’s hard to convince a pessimist to be an optimist, but one needs to correct their vision if they are to see straight. Overlook your deficiencies and ignore what failures you’ve experienced.  Dig in and go for what you want and utilize the people and things that you have going for you.

Perhaps it starts with a belief, one where you are convinced you have a goal, a purpose, and a unique ability to succeed.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Project a mindset of confidence, be open to opportunities, and be willing to take a chance.  Remaining stuck in denial, anger, or excuses will get you nowhere.

Maybe you need a few words of inspiration to get you going.  Try these:

“Some people have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to, when all they need is one reasons why they can.”
--Willis R. Whitney

“Whatever your mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.”
--Napoleon Hill

“If you don’t like something, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”
--Mary Engelbreit

“You’ll see it when you believe it.”
--Wayne Dyer

“Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.”
--Margaret Shepard

“Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”
--Dolly Parton

“I’d rather regret things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.”
--Lucille Ball

“Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.”
--Leonard Cohen

“Make your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”
--Nelson Mandela

“It is our choices that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
--J.K. Rowling

“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.”
--Sarah Ban Breathnach

“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.”
--Albert Einstein


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Complete Author Book Marketing & PR Toolkit for 2017


Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. 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 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

New Legal Protections Are Needed To Get True Free Speech



Is it time for free speech laws to be changed, paving the way for new government protections for those who want to speak their minds without losing their jobs, getting locked out of social media sites, or banned from bookstores?

Free speech, in its ideal sense, doesn’t really exist.  People want to believe they have a right to express their views, but they actually don’t.  The free speech laws only apply to the government.  If you want to say the president is a bum, Trump can’t jail you, but your employer could choose to fire you.  If you want to hand out leaflets airing religious views that are controversial, you can do so without the government locking you up but if you chose to use Facebook to share these views, the corporate social media site can bar such comments and even kick you off of its service.

Free speech comes with a price and limitations in the real world.  So my question is this:  Do we strengthen free speech to extend beyond protections against government retribution, and expand it so that corporations and others cannot directly limit your speech or punish you as a result of such speech?  Just what would that look like?

The world would be very different if people could truly speak their minds freely, without fear of the expression of such views coming back to penalize them. But we really can’t speak our minds without running into some very real problems, similar to what happens when you speak the truth in situations where people aren’t really ready to handle it.

Does your wife really want to hear her butt looks huge in an outfit that she likes?  Does your boss really want to hear you think he’s a moron?  Does a customer at a store really want to hear that a worker thinks she’s dumb?

We often don’t utter what’s on our minds because it can hurt someone’s feelings or cause them to miss out on something, but we also refrain from saying how we think or feel for fear of ridicule, financial penalty, physical confrontation, or the loss of an opportunity that would benefit us.  So, a lot of speech is self-censored and filtered, but should it have to be that way?

When free speech gets limited by others, we question their authority and their ability to properly arbitrate the sharing of words, information, ideas, and thoughts.  Look at Facebook.  They have the unenviable and daunting task of creating and implementing confusing and limiting standards regarding hate-speech. FB improperly and unevenly applies arbitrary standards to police online postings.

The result?  FB says it deletes nearly 300,000 posts each month that it deems as hate speech.  Who determines what is hate speech and why are we quick to censor it?

FB is regulating more speech than any government ever has and it's doing so with an ever-expanding strong arm and a growing list of guidelines.  Not that long ago FB had a one-page policy regarding censoring content. Now it’s up to 15,000 words as the internal censorship manual expands to try to meet its nearly two billion users.

Some people are wrongly or unintentionally put into "Facebook Jail," where they are locked out for 24 hours or longer.  There’s no one to appeal to and talk to about FB’s decisions and actions.  Maybe such activity needs government oversight or protection.

Free speech will challenge and even cost us something at times, but without stronger government regulations to support and foster real free speech, we remain a society that is only as free and open as the few who heroically challenge the norms, the powerful, and the people who can net us the most.

“When you sell on price, you are a commodity.  When you sell on value, you are a resource.”
--Bob Burg

“Start working with your prospects as if they’ve already hired you.”
--Jill Konrath

“The smallest of actions is always better than the noblest of intentions.”
--Robin Sharma

“Don’t assume a door is closed:  push on it.  Don’t assume if it was closed yesterday that it is closed today.”
--Marian Wright Edelman

“You can’t go back and make a new start, but you can start right now and make a brand new ending.”
--James R. Sherman


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. 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 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Can Las Vegas Teach The Book Industry How To Gamble On Pricing?



On a trip this past week to America’s sin capital, I was reminded of the motto, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”  That slogan is never truer when applied to one’s wallet.  

Oh, my – that place is crazy expensive.  It didn’t used to be that way.  And this is coming from a New Yorker who knows about rip-off prices.

If you think about it, the need for Las Vegas to exist is not quite what it used to be. At one time if you wanted to gamble legally in this country it was to be in Las Vegas.  

It used to draw people in with 99-cent breakfasts, lunch buffets for a few bucks, premier shows, and a strip of unique hotels that drew in some interesting characters.  Now, those deals are gone goodbye and the character and charm, of Vegas has succumbed to corporate pressure to commercialize the place without any personality.  In fact, the strip looks very mall-like. Every hotel resembles the next one, each filled with over-priced restaurants, shops, and a casino that dominates the hotel and follows you wherever you go.

I first visited Las Vegas in 1990.  It was transitioning from its downtown strip that became dated, seedy, crime-ridden, and run-down, a reminder of the mob-corrupt ways of the past.  It was beginning to celebrate skyscraper hotels that had appeal to travelers from all over the world.  But in subsequent visits there, including two trips around a decade ago, it was trending in a way that would leave it in position for where it’s at today – a huge bazaar of gambling, drinking, and shopping.  They still have a lot of shows that get sold out but there’s something lacking, mainly reasonable prices.

Everything’s a rip-off.  Starbucks in Vegas charged me 50% more for my already over-priced fare.  The hotels charge insane prices and still pound you with extra fees.  Want a check out that’s a little later?  Try paying $90.  Want to have a cabana by the pool?  It could go for $800 a day.  How about a bottle of water from the gift shop?  Shell out $4.50.

Not everyone in Vegas is a high-roller or well-to-do. I would venture to say that the vast majority who bet do not leave with more than what they came with.  So it’s not enough to rob you at the casino. They need to escalate charges on anything you do or buy.  How about a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon?  That’s almost $2,300 for four people for four hours. Want to go to a nearby gun range?  It could be over $1,000 a person. Want to see Penn & Teller, a classic but aging strip act:  Shell out over $100 per ticket.

So why do I rail against Vegas after having a good trip and having fun stories to share?  Because it was unnecessarily expensive and it taught me a lesson that can be applied to the book industry.

It should raise its prices, especially for digital books. If Vegas, with its outrageous prices and high level of competition, can be successful, why can’t the book industry follow suit?

Stop selling based on price and discounts. Start selling on the real value – great story, great writing, great research. Don’t sell yourself short. Rather than authors trying to underprice or outbid each other for chump change, they should be like the casinos and see how they can outcharge each other.

Now, of course, I don’t want to advocate that authors rip off readers or that the industry name a higher price just because it feels like it.  I’m just saying let’s experiment.  Let’s jack up prices for premier authors and the elite best-sellers.  They deserve it and can help raise the bar for others. Think about it.  Go to a system of tier-priced books.  Your standard hardcover can’t be $25-$30 all around.  No. Top shelf books could be $40.  Others $30, and maybe unknown authors for $20 or $25.  Readers need a scale by which to discern buying choices. We can’t have a low ceiling on books that then get dwindled down by opportunists and insecure authors looking to drum up a following by giving their book away for 99 cents or a few bucks.

So let’s take a look at what Vegas does well:

1.      It sells itself as a destination without using a specific hotel.  Book publishing needs to promote reading books – without pushing a specific publisher, genre, or author.

2.      Makes itself sound fun, mysterious, and memorable.  Books can offer all of that, too.

3.      It holds out the promise of having your life changed by a big win.  Books offer readers the promise of life-changing ideas and information.

4.      Vegas can handle any capacity.  It just adds hotels as needed and constantly remodels its properties.  Publishing can handle any number of readers interested in consuming their product and constantly puts out new titles and reprints as needed.

5.      Going to Vegas is a repeatable act. One can come often, each time to return to new activities.  Readers can repeat buying and reading books, each time experimenting with new authors and a diverse array of genres.

You may not think of Vegas and book publishing as having anything in common, but book publishing should take a gamble and find a way to encourage tier-pricing for its price-depressed-resources.


“Stand for something or you will fall for anything.”
--Rosa Parks

“Change before you have to.”
--Jack Welch

“Business, like life, is all about how to make people feel.  It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.”
--Danny Meyer
   
“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
--Henry David Thoreau

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
--Stephen R. Covey

“Maybe the reason it seems that price is all your customers care about is that you haven’t given them anything else to care about.”
--Seth Godin


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. 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 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

JFK Presidency By The Book



I recently visited the John F. Kennedy Presidential Museum and Library in Boston. I had visited the presidential library of Jimmy Carter, Lyndon B. Johnson and FDR, but this was special because Kennedy represents the 1960s -- the revolution -- where race, sex, and drugs all converged to produce significant changes in civil rights, social activism, and culture.  It was the Cold War and the Vietnam War.  It was the race to space and it was a new era for all.

Of course, history tells us that things went off course when an assassin stole Camelot and great optimism and potential, when, the president was shot and the Kennedy vision was killed with him.

The museum offers many interesting factoids and nostalgic items for consumption, but I was most impressed with the role books play in the telling of his story.  

For instance, it displays Profiles in Courage, a book the young Senator Kennedy wrote and won a Pulitzer Prize for, several years before ascending to the White House.  He’s the only president to win such an award.  Trump certainly will not break into that world, though he has put his name on a number of best-sellers.

Another place where books took up an important place was in a display that said:  “When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.”  It seems Kennedy knew how the world really is, but held out hope that writers can lead a change.

Of course the museum highlighted the Cuban Missile Crisis but it didn’t mention Vietnam.  It showed Jackie O in a good light but never mentioned Marilyn Monroe.  These type of museums don’t so much as get at a truth but they do a good job of highlighting the life and presidency of the few people who have held the most powerful job in the world the past 2 ½ centuries.

Much of the Kennedy career accomplishments can be found in books.  The gift shop sold many books about him, politics, Ted Kennedy and the White House.  I even bought one.  It’s nice to see books prominently displayed for sale in such a prestigious place.

Kennedy was a charismatic communicator. He was only 43 when he was elected.  His wife was just 31 on Election Day. If only he could’ve been around longer and not only accomplished more things, but to have been around to pen more books.  Someone should write a fictional Kennedy’s autobiography – what would he say if he lived longer and were even alive today?    He would have been 100 years old had he survived that gun shot.

Many presidents write books.  Presidential candidates now pen books so they can help promote their candidacy.  Many also write memoirs and policy books once they leave office.  Books and presidents are an important combination that help promote both.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. 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 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs