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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Coming Soon: The Media Store

The music store.
The video store.
The bookstore.
The newsstand.

Is their fate the same? If it is, can we revise course by combining all four into a new type of information-entertainment store?

Whereas malls used to have one of each of these stores, and now most have one or two – if that many -- and where towns used to have a neighborhood filled with multiples of these, we now have relegated most of these things to giant club stores like Costco, discounters like Wal-Mart and Target, airports or other herded locations. Otherwise, the marketplace has moved online and into digital downloads and on-demand sites.

I would love to see some smart corporation step in and bring together a space that incorporates the things that nourish the mind and soul – books, videos, music, magazines, and newspapers. Have a community space for speakers and for where people can gather to discuss ideas, share common interests and to feel cultured. Serve coffee, popcorn, or whatever will keep the intellectual stimulation fed. Have the workers trained to give recommendations or to help find what consumers want. It is vital that your physical world not shrink and move into a tiny, hand-held box. All the tweets, blogs, skype calls and online videos collectively cannot fully replace what we each can derive from sharing in a common, public, in-person experience.

The recession has taken a toll on jobs, real estate, retirement and all facets of life. It has left many commercial spaces vacant. Let’s fill them with a new type of all-purpose media store that brings minds and commerce together in a win-win situation.

Maybe we can call it the media warehouse. It can also serve as a showroom. People can see the video box, the CD album cover, the book jacket, and browse or sample the material. They can then buy it or there order it electronically if they prefer it that way. The main thing is that we bring community together and that we expose people to new ideas, new information, and new artists while at the same time seeking to establish a standard so that consumers can see what they are buying and putting them in a position to make informed decisions.

If the store wants to also sell toys, games, and puzzles that would be fine as well.

I guess what I described is Barnes and Noble, to a degree. It doesn’t rent movies, only sells some. But otherwise, it has all of the things I mentioned. They struggle to stay profitable. And their chief competitor, Borders, is going under. Only time will tell if the bookstore market can create a viable model. But the longer it takes to create a profitable, sustainable model, the less likely one exists.

But I have hope that a “media store” can rise up and be a cultural force. We can’t afford for it not to.

Interview With Tyler R. Tichelaar, President of UPPAA


Tyler R. Tichelaar is the president of Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association (UPPAA).It was founded in 1998. Tyler published his first novel, Iron Pioneers, in 2006 and joined UPPAA that year. In 2007, he became vice-president, and in 2008 he became president and is now in his third term as president. His interview with BookMarketingBuzzBlog is below:

1.      Please tell us what your organization does. UPPAA’s purpose is to focus on writing, publishing, and marketing books, especially with the purpose of helping our members to find the most cost-effective and successful ways to publish their books and market them. We are open to membership from anyone in Michigan and the outlying Great Lakes region, but primarily, our members are either residents of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula or they write about the area.

2.      How do you help authors and publishers sell more books? We do not promote books for our authors as a primary purpose, but we do a lot of networking with each other, sharing our ideas, successes, and concerns. UPPAA is frequently represented at various events in Upper Michigan, such as the UP History Conference, where we collectively have vendor tables to promote our members’ books. Our members are also good at helping one another, often sharing booths at craft shows, or inviting one another to speak in their own towns at various writer’s group meetings or conferences. We strongly believe in helping each other, rather than viewing one another as competition. We also have a website www.uppaa.org where we list all of our members’ books and we blog, creating a list of member events for people to attend. We have bi-annual meetings, including bringing in keynote speakers who are experts in the publishing field, such as bestselling author and publishing coach Patrick Snow; Irene Watson, owner of Reader Views; and Dan Poynter, author of The Self-Publishing Manual. Our meetings attempt to provide our members with the most up-to-date information about changes in the publishing industry. In addition, we have a quarterly newsletter, and a yahoo group where we can constantly communicate and ask questions and provide answers for one another.

3.      What do you love most about being in book publishing? Personally, being able to share our work with our readers and to have found a niche where the literature of Upper Michigan can be appreciated. People in the publishing industry are wonderful and enthusiastic, and readers appreciate authors—it’s a far cry from other industries in corporate America.

4.      What do you see as the industry’s fate? Bookstores are closing quickly. Independent bookstores will hopefully hang on for awhile since they are usually local authors’ best friends. The ebook trend will continue to grow and authors who convert their books to ebook formats will be the most successful down the road. Books will continue to become easier and less expensive to produce, and the stigma attached to self-publishing will diminish, but self-published authors must also do their parts by producing quality books, which means hiring an editor, a professional book designer, and having a professional website. Social media and technology must also be embraced and online marketing strategies developed to have successful book sales. Gone are the days when an author just writes; a successful author will be one who is fully involved in running a publishing business and wearing all the hats involved with that business, including knowing when to hire qualified people to help.

5.   What should authors and publishers do to promote and market their books? A quality website that is easily navigated is a must, but also, authors need to know the basics of SEO, they need to blog and be involved with social media to get online viewers to their websites, and they must be willing to participate in their communities, not just doing book signings but giving talks at various events so they will become known in the community. A lot of attention is being given lately to the pricing of ebooks and different pricing strategies for selling more books. Ebooks are a must to generate income for authors. Finding your niche and what works locally in your community is also important, depending on your book’s topic. Most important, however, is a quality product. Authors have to craft well-written and engaging books, stay informed about changes in the industry, and be willing to commit themselves to selling their books as a job, not just a hobby, if they wish to be successful.

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.

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