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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Forget The Dow Jones Crisis, But Where’s The Book Market Heading?


Barnes & Noble got slammed by Wall Street this past week for lackluster profit reports.  Amazon, by contrast, keeps going up, even though it’s been barely profitable of late - and often not profit-producing at all.  So how is the book market really doing?

It appears to be in a temporary slump, but there’s reason not to panic.

Recent findings show e-book sales have dropped. So have B&N book sales.  But there are bigger signs of trouble.  More consolidation is taking place. Tarcher and Perigee are morphing into one.  Perseus announced it’s looking for bidders.

B&N, up 7% for the year until it fell 22% in a single day, rebounded upward 8% the day after the huge drop.  Down for the year, the nation’s largest bookstore chain with 647 stores (even after closing 13 this past year) is letting its new CEO find his way.  He only started a few weeks ago.

B&N continues to see big declines in Nook revenues.  They have been seeing huge drops, quarter after quarter, with its digital device and e-content.  Sales fell 22% digitally.  However, not all was tragic. Essentially, retail and sales declined just 1.7% from a year ago, and for stores open at least a year, earnings were up 1.1%.  They sky isn’t falling.

Still, you have to wonder why B&N can’t do better. Last year, if I recall correctly, the book industry saw just one book top one million sales. By August of this year it already had three top that mark - Dr. Seuss, another Grey installment, and the follow-up for To Kill A Mockingbird.  When you get books that bring people into your stores, that’s your chance to impress them with additional offerings.

Authors should not read doom and gloom when they see Wall Street overreact. There is cause for concern, but heck, there’s been such a concern for nearly a decade.  Author and publishers need to stick to the basics - produce quality books that people need or want, at a fair price, that are easily available by shelf or click, and that get promoted and marketed properly.  That’s it - the formula to succeed as a writer.

Ok, so there’s more to it than that, mainly details.  But look, publishers need to give their books the best possible chance to succeed.  They must make the time and resources available to promote their titles and to encourage and train their authors how to assert themselves in a marketplace that is fragmented and diverse - but nevertheless available and obtainable. The population at large needs to see the bookstore as a destination, not just a showcase or pick-up point to get what it came for.  By stores holding more events we will see all booksellers rise and put Wall Street worries to rest.

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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 © 2015

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