Friday, December 16, 2011

Study Reveals Book Buyer Habits

Publishing research firm Codex Group released a study recently that showed how people are using bookstores as showrooms to browse, discover, or sample print books – and then leave the stores empty handed to buy the book online, either for less somewhere else, or the lower-priced e-book version.

Barnes & Noble will be happy – provided Nook owners browse its shelves and then buy the e-book through  Apparently 43% of Nook owners browse in store and then buy the e-book.

But B&N and other stores don’t like that 33% of Kindle owners survey a store and then purchase the e-book via Amazon.

The study said 40% of those surveyed read books equally in print and digital formats, though, I find it hard to believe. I  think once you go e-reader you’re inclined to travel that path.  In any case, as more people get e-readers that number will likely change.

24% said they “only read in print.”

Could a delayed release of an e-book help publishers stop the showcasing practice?  A Book Industry Study Group report said an increasing number of consumers would wait three months to buy the e-book.

Though stores don’t like the showroom practice, it does show that e-book sales come as a result of the book stores existing, so if few stores are around to showcase, will that hurt e-book sales?

Interview With Author Jeff Rivera

1.    Jeff, you have written a number f books. What inspired you to pen the latest one? My latest book that is out, Forever My Lady was first inspired when I met a young man who became the model for my main character. I had just gotten out of living in my car with my family and my first job was working at Kmart. I knew the moment I met him that his personal story was amazing so I decided to create my own story with my own personal history and that's what sparked the idea. I self-published it, then it sold to Grand Central Publishing.

2.    What do you love about being a published author? I love the validity it gives you and I created a whole lucrative business around helping other authors both published and unpublished take it to the next level.  I love doors it opened and the friendships it created. It was truly a blessing.

3.    What advice do you have for new writers? Yes, if I could do it all over again, I would have written the sequel and the three-quel before I got the first book published. My advice is to stock pile as many books as you can and write each of them as series. Make sure they're the very best they can be before you launch them. Who cares if you land an agent or a traditional publisher anymore. You don't really need one anymore and if you want one, they'll come chasing after you after you've sold enough eBooks.  The other advice, I wish I had known was to build that mailing list of fans and keep in touch with them once a month. That list is gold and it's something even the Big 6 haven't been doing until recently.

4.    Where do you see the book publishing industry heading? 99% digital is where I see it heading. There will be still a few mega bookstores open in 5 years and there will always be those nook and cranny great indie bookstores that somehow crept under the economic downturn radar and stayed in business no matter what but in 2 years, half the books bought will be eBooks in 5 years, it'll be at least 70-80%. Some publishers won't tell you this on-the-record, but off-the-record, some will tell you that already, half their sales are eBooks. 

Libraries will continue to thrive and of course the Amazon direct to your door step businesses. 

Also, the really smart agents will shift to creating ePublishing departments, become coaches that get paid by the hour, and publicist-marketer-manager hybrids that take care of an author's career as a whole not just trying to hock their next book.  Some of the agents will become brand name personalities so that readers will know that if an author's book came from Agent X then "it's gotta be good". The more forward-thinking agents are already doing this. They have to, in order to survive and they'll do it with or without the AAR's cooperation.  

Now, don't get me wrong, there will be still a few of the 15-percenters left but those will be people who represent the Stephen King's of the world and the James Patterson's but even James Patterson only works through a flat-fee/by-the-hour publishing attorney. He doesn't have an agent anymore.  Pretty soon the James Patterson's of the world will experiment with an indie book "for charity" and when it takes off like gang busters, they'll slowly but surely start to wean themselves away from the Big 6 and just do it on their own, only licensing the print rights to them but ePublishing themselves.

5.    Why do you feel self-publishing has a better payoff than going with a mainstream, traditional publisher? It depends on the book. For now, YA, middle grade and children's books are better of with mainstream but as another Christmas wave of hand-me-downs comes down the pipe, kids will get into it. It'll take another 3-4 years before it becomes the norm, maybe a good 30-40% of kids will read it that way; depending on how quickly the Kobo's and Kindle's and Nooks of the world practically give away their readers in the schools for next to nothing.  Other genres, even celebrity books in the right case are often better of ePublishing and selling the foreign and pBook rights and film rights traditionally (for now).  I don't think physical books will ever completely go away. They'll be gift items and there will be print on demand and Espresso machines but I do think kids in ten years will laugh at us because we used to cut down trees, ruin the rain forest just to make books. (Maybe they'll start making them out of plastic that feels like paper or elephant poo books like one of Seth Godin's recent books)

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Planned Television Arts. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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