Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Book Industry Audit

There are so many ways to publish a book.  You have the Big 5 – Penguin Random House, Harper Collins, MacMillan Publishers, Hachette Group, and Simon and Schuster – which dominate the best-seller lists.  There are medium-size publishers, independent small presses, university presses, and the publishing arms of foundations, non-profits, and corporations.  There’s self-publishing, vanity publishing, print-on-demand, and hybrid publishing, where authors pay some of the costs and share in the profits.  There are audio book publishers, e-book publishers and vook publishers (video + written content).  At the turn of the 21st century there was a much different landscape in book publishing than what exists today, but one thing is clear about the book marketplace:

More people than ever before have a chance to be published.

Additionally, the chances someone’s book will be purchased or read are declining, as the marketplace is getting flooded with more books than readers can handle.  Copies of each book published today are sold to fewer people than in years past because:

There are more content choices than ever before – from movies, video games, plays, music, television shows, concerts, ballets, sporting events, websites, blogs, social media, etc.

The industry has to confront the following issues:
  • How do we improve the quality of the books being published?
  • How does each book compete against so many new and old books – plus other content available 24/7?
  • How do readers find books they would like – and discover ones they didn’t think to pursue but would enjoy once found?
  • What role can or should a publisher play in a marketplace where writer-to-consumer is available?
Everyone in the book industry has a question to be answered, including:

Literary Agents
  • How do they stay relevant?
  • How do they make good money when publishers aren’t doling out large advances as often as they used to?

  • How do they hook a literary agent or publisher?
  • How do they get a better royalty deal?
  • How do they balance time writing with promotions, marketing, and doing social media?

  • How do they acquire great books – and not break the bank?
  • How do they market a book successfully?
  • How do they find authors who have great platforms and can sell a good amount of copies?
  • How do they find authors who will buy up a lot of copies of their book?

  • How will they make a book not only better, but truly great?
  • How will they keep up with the crushing burden of a big workload?
  • How will they make a decent living when editing can be outsourced for cheap?

  • How will they get major media to cover not only their A-list, but the rest of the line?
  • How will they keep up with social media AND securing traditional media, especially where authors don’t contribute much to their campaigns?
  • How will they break through the digital clutter and reach influencers who can really move book sales?

  • Can they sell enough books – along with non-book items such as toys, DVDs and music – to stay in the black? 
  • Can they expand our space or the number of stores owned?
  • How can they transition into becoming valuable community centers and hubs of intellectual discussion?
If the book industry was audited and put under a microscope, you’d find enough material for a Broadway play. Make it a comical musical.  There’s a cast of many here.  The art of writing, editing, promoting, and selling books is one that has been practiced for centuries and is very much alive and well today.

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2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit

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 He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Author Publicity Priority List

Authors need to do dozens of things – big and small -- in order to successfully promote and market themselves and their books. Here’s my top 12:

1.      Website
It doesn’t have to be fancy and expensive, but it has to properly represent you and be the starting point of your branding foundation.  I don’t take any writer seriously if they don’t have a website.  Nothing is a substitute for a website.

2.      Blog/or Podcast
This is a great way to get your voice heard.  It can rally and motivate fans and it can be a great tool to recruit new fans and build a following.  Your blog needs to be posted regularly and shared with everyone.

3.      Social Media Profiles
You must establish a profile and an account with major social media outlets.  Linkedin is a stupendous professional networking and research tool. Facebook is great for building fan followings and posting news, events, your blog, etc.  Twitter is critical as well.  Depending on your time availability, personal preferences, and the type of books that you write, consider having an account on YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.  Google+ and Snapchat would also be up for consideration.

4.      Have A Marketing Plan and Budget
Marketing can be anything from advertising, speaking engagements, direct mail, telemarketing, infomercials, product placement, paid social media placements, and handing out fliers at the mall.  Make a plan, have a budget, enlist help, and get started at least a half-a-year ahead of your publication date.

5.      Have A PR Plan and Budget
PR is what drives book sales and your brand.  How do you plan to get media coverage for you and your books?  Will you hire someone?  What’s your budget and timeline to execute each necessary stage?  Create a plan at least six months prior to your book launch.

6.      Goodreads
It’s a great, inexpensive way to connect to writers and secure book reviews by the busload.

7.      NetGalley
This is a great, inexpensive way to give your book away, especially to the news media and book reviewers.

8.      Other Products and Services
I don’t care if you wrote a novel about superheroes who use snot to thwart the bad guys, find other products/books/services to sell on your website as well.  Anything from T-shirts to audiobooks to seminars can be made available.  These items give you another income stream. They can be items you create or they can be from a third party.

9.      Business Card
Yes, in our big digital world you still need a business card.  Make it with color, on good quality stock.  People will hold onto it and the look and texture of it will give people a lasting impression of you.

10.  Elevator Speech
This is very hard but really very easy.  Take your whole life and book and truncate your essence and existence into a 15-to-30 second speech.  You need, whether asked or not, to be ready to say who you are and what your book is about – whether talking to a stranger at a bus stop or trying to impress the media, a consumer, or an investor.

11.  Optimism, Confidence, Vision
Call it having the right attitude.  No time for shyness, lack of confidence, low energy, fear, or anything else that will only serve to keep you down.  Inflate yourself and soar like a balloon.  Take a risk, be bold, meet a challenge, aim high, and diversify your approach to marketing yourself.

12.  Mailing List
Organize a list of everyone you know – and who they know – and be prepared to unleash it at the right time to sell your book, network, seek specific favors, or share news. Everything you do is geared towards having a huge list of contacts.

13.  Press Kit
Let’s make it a baker’s dozen. The other thing you need is a press kit.  This electronic and printed kit should include the following:

Press release and an image of your book cover
Author bio and your photo
Related facts/statistics/fun quiz
Book Excerpts
Media clips of past appearances
Schedule of upcoming speaking engagements/book signings

Other things you may need, could include:
·         Aspirin (to handle rejection)
·         An investor/sponsor/crowdfunding page (to finance your campaigns)
·         A supportive friend/spouse/family member (a dog will do, too)
·         Subscriptions to good sites like Publishers Weekly, NYT Book Review, Writers Digest, etc.
·         Date night (forget about your book every so often and just go out and have a good time).

Good Luck.

Recent Posts

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The Author PR Priority List

Rights of Cheating Spouses vs. First Amendment On Display

Can authors audit their writing like they do their taxes?

What is America’s actual reading capacity?

2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit

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 He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What Is America’s Reading Capacity?

Has America reached its book reading saturation point?  If it hasn’t, what will be that point?

When you look at how Americans spend their time outside of work or school, you see people busy with chores, family obligations, social media, entertainment, and any number of activities.  Americans could easily double their reading capacity if certain things happened, but before we get to such a bold solution, let’s understand the state of things.

A Pew survey released this past October showed that 27% of adults said they had not read a single book in the last year.  That equals at least 55 million adults!  How can our nation thrive when so many remain unengaged, ignorant, and under-educated?

On average, American adults read 12 books per year but the median was only 4. This means half of America read 4 or fewer books in 2015.  That’s no better than one every three months. If you read two or three pages a day, you’d read four books a year.  That equals maybe 5-8 minutes of reading per day. We can do better!

Ok, so what would allow people to read more books?

Opportunity:  If time is the main reason, all people need to do is reallocate their time or figure out how to multi-task.  Can you read while on the toilet, waiting in line, or commuting to work?

Choice:  People make choices every day.  Will you read a book instead of surf Twitter, watch TV or play a video game?

Priority:  Do you see reading books as being important, helpful, and pleasurable?  If you do, you’d make books more of a priority, wouldn’t you?

Availability:  Books are readily available for purchase in bookstores, non-bookstores, and online.  Digitally, many books are available for free or at very little cost.  Libraries lend books at no cost.  There’s no excuse for saying one lacks access to books, though some may not be able to afford an electronic reading device.

Peer Pressure:  Rather than readers finding each other and forming book clubs, who is preaching books to the non-readers or under-read?  If a community or household values books, they all read – a lot. If no one models a good reader, then homes go without books.

A Reason to Read a Book:  Too many will say they can read a blog, see a movie, or get their news and entertainment fix from television.  But books are a special way to receive information, ponder ideas, and explore new worlds.  Its lengthier format – compared to newspapers, magazines, poetry, blogs, or FB posts -- offers a unique way to engage in a conversation with yourself.  Because it lacks visuals in most cases, books allow for your imagination to run wild.  Because your read to yourself, your voice helps you personalize the content.  A book can be picked up anywhere anytime and get re-read over and over.  There’s something complete about a book, something whole about it.  Once one lets him- or herself become a reader, he or she won’t stop with one book.

Language Barriers:  Obviously people, in order to read books, will need to possess the educational skills, language commandment, and focused ability to do so.  Unless we educate people to become capable of reading they will never experience such a pleasure.

Learning Disorders:  Obviously it’s difficult to read a lot of books with untreated disorders such as ADHD, Dyslexia, and the like. Further, having visual problems go untreated will also inhibits one's ability to read. Those who suffer from uncontrolled mental illness, were in a debilitating accident, or are feeling sick may also be temporarily limited in how much they can read. The more people we can get diagnosed and treated for things, that once corrected could enable more people reading more books, the quicker we can see more books being consumed by our nation.

There may be a limit as to how many books a person can read, but we’re not even close to such a saturation point.  We can do better – and need to.  If we believe books can enlighten, inspire, educate, influence, and entertain us, we must speed up the process to get more readers into the fold and to get more readers to read more often.

Imagine what our nation would look like if we reached a point where everyone read a minimum of 18 books a year – one and a half per month or roughly 12 to 15 pages per day.  This would be a 50% increase over today’s average but more than four times the median.

The information and ideas are already out there that can make the world better.  But if we don’t have enough people exposed to them it gets harder for the educated minority to persuade the under-read majority of anything.

What’s America’s reading capacity?  We are nowhere near what it might be and we need to work hard to get people to read books. Not only will they gain by reading more books but they’ll lose less by limiting exposure to reality shows and cat videos.   

2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit

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 He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

Monday, March 28, 2016

Cheating Spouse Rights vs. First Amendment

The recent headline-making case of Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker will be studied for years.  Is it a victory for privacy or a black eye for the First Amendment – or both?

In case you are not familiar with the story, let me fill you in.  Hulk Hogan used to be a prominent professional wrestler.  Given the sport is fake, he’s really an athletic entertainer. He then moved onto doing reality T.V. shows.  Now, at age 62, he was awarded $115 million because Gawker, a trashy news site akin to the National Enquirer, published a tape of Hulk engaging in sexual activity with the wife of his best friend. Hulk, who was married at the time, was given permission by his friend to cheat with his spouse.  The friend is a radio shock-jock, Bubba the Love Sponge.

The issue is this:  The sex video was made without Hulk’s knowledge nor did he give permission for its distribution.  The woman supposedly didn’t know she was being recorded by her husband, though she knew he had security cameras in their house.  The tape was posted online by Bubba – without their permission – and then Gawker posted it.

So who should be in trouble?  Bubba filmed them illegally and took that tape and posted it illegally.  Gawker then published what was already out there, on a small scale initially.

Does a celebrity have the right to privacy?  Does a media outlet have a right to publish a story, regardless of how it obtained the information or what the subject matter is?

My gut tells me that Gawker should have used better judgment.  Is it really of real news value to show a sex video of a B-celebrity?  Did Gawker have the rights to that video?

Certainly, the verdict is idiotic. How often is $100M+ awarded to an individual?  Even when larger sums are awarded, how could we justify a nine-digit sum when people who lose loved ones, are maimed or disabled are psychologically traumatized or are jailed illegally win far, far less than that?

Half the verdict is for actual damages.  I doubt that Hulk suffered $60M in earnings losses once the tape leaked out. If anything, the publicity boosted his image.

Next, the rest is for emotional damages -- pain and suffering.  Excessive. Many media outlets do far worse things – libel, defamation, or misstate crucial facts in a story – and pay way less than a $55 million penalty.

I don’t think the $115M verdict will stand on appeal and subsequent negotiations it will get knocked down a lot. The punitive damages were then set at $25M. So he could get $140M!!

I want to defend the free speech rights of the media and book publishers but the line has to be drawn somewhere.  Does America have a right to know -- and see -- who a banged-up celebrity is sleeping with?  If evidence or content is obtained illegally, does the end justify the means?

We don’t want to reward or inspire sites like Gawker to illegally post videos like these but we don’t exactly want to cripple them from pursuing news either.  If they got a secret video of Trump snorting coke, or of Michelle Obama bedding Putin, you bet they should publish it.  That’s relevant, important news.  But even then, do we want Gawker participating in hacker tricks, checkbook journalism, or trading in stolen videos?

For authors, where do we draw distinct lines for them?  Can they write books based on viewing such videos?  What rights or protections do they have in comparison to a news media outlet?

Only in America can a cheater win a huge windfall for being exposed.  What’s next?  You punch someone in the face but sue the victim because your hand hurts? Or maybe you commit fraud, take the money and commit other crimes but you blame the fraud victim for making it so easy to steal from them.

Stranger things have happened. Just ask Hulk Hogan.

2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit

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 He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Publishing & Sports Must Protect Those Accused of Crimes

The world is filled with conflicts, contradictions, and dual ethics.  Case in point:  Major League Baseball handed down a 30-game ban (about 18% of the season) to a relief pitcher on the Yankees, Aroldis Chapman, for an incident that never led to criminal charges.  Domestic violence proponents might say baseball didn’t go far enough, while others like me believe such a penalty should never be implemented.

It’s true that professional athletes have forever behaved poorly off the field, getting into barroom fights, succumbing to addictions, driving while under the influence, cheating on spouses, and committing abuse against women—and sometimes children.  I don’t excuse nor condone such behavior but I don’t like the idea that a profession or employer can step in as a substitute for the criminal justice system.

Can you imagine if a publisher decides to yank a book off the store shelves for 30 days because he or she was involved in an altercation with a significant other?

The justice system needs to be improved but I defer to it to determine punishment for criminal offenses.  If it locks someone up, that’s the punishment.  Community service and a fine?  That’s the punishment.  The NFL or a publisher should not thrust themselves into the debate as the morality police.

The media has that job.  Let the media spew about the alleged villains among us.  Let sports fans decide if they’ll root for someone and let readers decide if they will buy a book written by someone not even charged with a crime.

The pitcher will forfeit 1.856 million dollars.

To me, the fact that a sports league independently investigated and concluded the player did something wrong, means that the criminal system did something wrong.  If he did something, such as act violently, why isn’t the court system charging him?  The police didn’t even have enough evidence to see if a jury could be convinced of wrong-doing.

If you conclude that what he did wasn’t breaking the law, then what did he do that was so bad?  You can’t have it both ways and say, “Well, though what he did was not technically a crime, he should be punished for his actions.”  Why?  Where does it end when it comes to an employer imposing its sense of morality?

I would shutter if publishers begin to cancel publishing contracts or remove books from stores simply because an allegation of bad behavior is made. If the police investigate and don’t prosecute, or if they do and the defendant is exonerated, should any further action be taken by the book world?

It’s a murky system, to seek to impose a standard where none exists.  Exactly which offenses must occur for a league or employer to take action?  What should the penalty be for each offense?

Don’t misunderstand me.  I believe domestic violence should be punished – by the law – not by private businesses.  I especially feel that a league should not act if the courts won’t.  And if the courts act, we don’t need to doubly penalize the athlete or writer by adding in additional penalties.

The only time a league or publisher should impose a penalty is when the offensive action directly relates to the industry one is involved in.  For instance, if a player takes a steroid, in violation of league rules, punish him or her.  Additionally, if the steroid was taken illegally, toss his ass in jail too!

If a writer punches his editor in the face or is proven to have plagiarized his book or shows up to a book signing intoxicated, take action.  Otherwise, stay away! 

2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit

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 He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Trump University Of Book Promotions

Political and news junkies like me find it quite interesting to see how the news media not only covers but furthers the Donald Trump phenomenon.  Here’s what can be learned about the media, based on what it’s done through nearly half of the scheduled primaries:

1.      It spent a disproportionate amount of time covering his candidacy. The more the media covered him, the more important he seemed, so the more the media continued to cover him.

3.      When other candidates were discussed, it was often because it was about how they were involved in a Trump statement or controversy.

4.      The debates, which then get covered by the media, disproportionately gave the floor to Trump.  Because he led in the polls, he was given the center spot on stage, not only projecting him as being in the middle of the action but physically placing him in between every conversation or statement.

5.      Because Trump has a big Twitter following, the media likes to comment on his Twitter feed, again, keeping him in the limelight.

6.      Trump constantly gave the media an outrageous soundbite to cover every day.  Other candidates rely on making proposals on policy to get attention but he just says someone’s an idiot and gets himself coverage.

7.      He projects leadership and speaks with a surly conviction that, like a car wreck, you just can’t look away.  The media is drawn to this character, not because they like his views but because they love his walking reality show antics.

8.      Because, people can’t believe how ridiculous he sounds, they keep talking about him. It’s easier to discuss him dissing the Pope, calling Cruz a liar, and accusing little Rubio of something than to weigh the sensibilities of what Kasich would do if he were president.

9.      Trump is telegenic – from his towering posture, to strong voice, to his faux hair, to his toughness – he draws you in, nudging you to watch as you dare him to stumble.

10.  Even if we disagree with his vitriol, we marvel at how he gets away with speaking his mind.  He has no filter and many people appreciate that even if we should expect more from someone who wants to be president.

11.  His blue language though offensive, again, draws you in because it makes it seem like this billionaire is one of us.

12.  Though he can bite with criticism, he gives off a we-can-win vibe.  Ok, so Charlie Sheen was the last person to talk about winning, and he had a meltdown, but the media wants a cheerleader and Trump is great at championing America.

However, because the media has fed us Trump 24-7, and because some people are fed up with the government, he has propelled himself into the lead of a national party.  No one really thought it would ever get to this, but it has.  The media played a big role in elevating Trump to this spot.

So how can publishers and authors apply lessons from the political coverage that has ensued?

·         Be controversial, outrageous, and colorful.
·         Attack daily with a new message.
·         Don’t be politically correct – speak your mind.
·         Don’t expect to appeal to everyone, but rattle the base.
·         Be funny and nutty.
·         Change the rules – don’t follow a script.

·         Create a persona, a bigger than life ego or image.

Publicists and marketers will study the Trump candidacy for years to come, whether he wins or loses in the primaries – or the general election should he get there.  Authors and publishers need to Trump their books and figure out how to sell books in a way that’s never been done before.

2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit

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 He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Book Says Forget Socialist Sanders or Huge Trumpism: Try Trekonomics

While listening to the presidential debates we hear a wide range of economic approaches, from Ted Cruz saying abolish the IRS, lower taxes, and ignore the poor to Bernie Sanders saying Corporate America and the wealthy must pay more while the poor and middle class get more services from the government. Which way, if either one is given a chance, will work best or at all?  Well, we may not have that answer just yet but a new book offers some interesting ideas of how a future without money would look.  

Imagine a world where the economics of Star Trek exist.  Well, on the 50th anniversary of the television debut of the cult-favorite show, Trekonomics is being released by Manu Saadia, a Parisian-born Los Angeles resident who contributes to and has been featured in The Financial Times, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

The Star Trek franchise – television, books, and movies -- focuses on issues of war and peace and the human condition, exploring what really makes us human and why logic must be combined with passion to produce the ideal person.  But along the way it is shown that the future no longer seems to function around money.  This book explores:

·         How society would exist without money.
·         How to define the role and meaning of work when robots replace most labor-intensive jobs.
·         How to create abundance so that we’re not fighting for scarce resources.
·         How society can manage common resources.
·         How the world will benefit when more people can focus more time on science and justice when freed from work and economic necessity.

The author writes:

“My primary objective is to describe the economics of Star Trek.  The idea is to take a step back:  instead of trying to reverse engineer the future one piece of technology or one policy fix at a time, I attempt to take Star Trek at its own word, to give credit to its economic imagination.  Exploring how to get there makes very little sense without a clear picture of what it’s like once we get there.

“Furthermore, to my great surprise, in the process of researching and writing this book, the question of possibility gradually dissolved.  It turned out that Star Trek’s main economic thesis, that machines can eventually free us of the drudgery of work, is almost as old as the industrial revolution itself.  It is not at all crazy. On the contrary, it seems rather reasonable in light of the trajectory of the past two centuries.  Human activity has quickly moved away from the purely physical toward the mental and the symbolic.  Meanwhile, more or less autonomous machines have taken on the task of transforming raw materials on an unimaginable scale.  Star Trek’s  utopia is nothing more than the world that awaits us on the other side of that great social metamorphosis, provided that we decide to distribute our newly acquired freedom evenly and that we avoid boiling our planet.”

This book will be released at the end of May.  According to its publisher, Inkshares, it is “the first book in famed financial journalist Felix Salmons’ imprint, Pipertext.  Since its official announcement at Comic Con New York 2015 on the panel “The Amazing Economics of Star Trek,” with economists Paul Krugman, Brad DeLong and Tech Culture editor of Ars Technica, Annalee Newitz, Trekonomics has catalyzed a discussion on how this utopian universe could inform how we live today.  Sure to be of interest to both armchair economists who love Freakonomics and die hard Trekkies, Trekonomics poses the question:  If you could live in Star Trek’s economic utopia, would you want to?”

Humanity has been searching for utopia for many centuries of generations.  First it seeks to be free of war and violence.  Next it wants to make sure everyone’s basic needs are met – shelter, food, clothing, health, education. How do we achieve the first two and where do we go from there?

There are many interesting concepts explored in this book though it gives us little to go on by way of how to implement the policies and procedures needed to transform 2016 Earth into 23rd century Star Trek.  Still it is passages like this one that allow us to at least dream and visualize of better days to come:

“In Trekonomics, the absence of money implies that status is not tied to economic wealth and discretionary spending.  Conspicuous consumption and luxury have lost their grip on people’s imaginations.  The opposition between plenty and scarcity, which under our current conditions determines a large cross section of prices and purchasing behaviors, is no longer relevant.

“For Federation citizens, the notion of luxury itself has evolved to encompass the full range of experiences available to humanoids.  It is possible to envision that people seek the unique and the memorable in personal relationships and in fleeting moments of satori, rather than in the acquisition of things.  Looking for and collecting artful artifacts, ancient or otherwise, seems to be among the few areas where one can exert her erudition and flaunt her good taste.”

2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit

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 He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

The Cost Of The Internet Grows, Threatens Books

Technology and the online revolution have produced many game-changing services, businesses, ideas, and ways of communicating worldwide.  The digital world has predictably altered how people buy goods and services, from price-comparison tools to advertising to removing the need for brick and mortar everywhere.  We now are learning of the cost of the Internet. 

According to Winter Institute 11, an annual event involving the American Booksellers Association, the digital world is causing taxes to shrink.  For example, the failure of 23 states and Washington DC to collect the full sales tax on Amazon sales resulted in a 625 million-dollar loss in revenue in 2014.  Add in other online retailers and who knows what the damages come to.

Now add in the commercial real estate slump.  The Institute estimated that the growth of online retail reduced the demand for retail space by about 100,000,000 square feet.  That’s the equivalent of 30,000 storefronts that would have hired 136,000 workers, and generated $420 million in property taxes annually.

Sure the Internet creates convenience, more competition to lower prices, and more choice in the marketplace.  But we don’t have to trade everything for it.  We should have sales taxes collected every time an item is sold, whether online, on the street, or in a physical store.

The real estate issue is harder to fix, though it’s obvious many businesses are looking to balance needs for a digital presence and a physical space.  Even Amazon is reportedly considering opening up hundreds of stores.

When it comes to books, the book industry can’t tolerate the loss of any physical stores.  Books, in order to grow and thrive, demand exposure and discovery in physical places.  Books need to be consumed by human hands and eyes, purchased in a communal setting where people interact and talk to one another.  Books need to be on display in places that can hold events and bring in authors and speakers.   Books are a living and breathing organism, not a boxed up commodity that can merely be packaged from a warehouse.

The best thing for books in a digital era is for a level playing field.  Tax all digital sales.  Open more bookstores.  Encourage people to attend events where books are sold and discussed.  Leave digital for social media promotions but leave paper and stores for books and readers to come together.

It’s hard to believe that the web era is more than a quarter-century old.  There’s a whole generation that’s lived in a society where digital is the dominant norm.  But we must protect books from the effects of a lopsided Internet.

2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit

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 He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 201

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Do Authors Need A Prize To Write A Great Book?

Millions of writers attempt to write a book each year.  A good percentage complete a manuscript and hundreds of thousands of them get published.  There are many reasons people write books – because they have an important message or feel a need to share their story; ego; they believe they are destined to write; they seek fame; because it helps their brand; and any of a dozen other reasons.  Few write to get rich, but would a major, contest with a multi-million-dollar prize motivate writers to put their best pen forward?

I just read how 78 different cities applied for a $40 million federal prize. The task?  To present the best new ways to use new automated driving and sensory technologies and big data to reduce traffic and cut auto emissions.  In fact, the final price might get up to $50 million, including ten million bucks from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

The public-private combination is a great idea.  So is offering a huge bounty.  This will spur ideas to be exchanged and seed the level of innovation that America needs.  Why not do the same with books?

Most prizes offer prestige, some fame and a small level of financial award, especially in the book world. We need to move past chump change and bankroll something big here.

Would we get better books by offering a fat prize-like five million to the best book?  Would there be so many submissions that we’d uncover many very good books?  Woulld any of these have been written if not for the lure of a huge payoff?

I don’t know, but it seems like our capitalist society favors getting rich as the ideal pursuit for so many people. Of course writers, though they’re not opposed to getting rich, are generally motivated by non-monetary factors, so I wonder how much of a difference a big, prize would make in the quantity and quality of the caliber of books being written.

What if we took that five-million-dollar grand prize and instead turned it into 25 grants of $200,000 each, bankrolling authors to use up to 18 months, full-time, of their creative juices and writing abilities to produce the best possible book or books.  Maybe some will create a laboratory to collaborate with each other in order to crowdsource a great book.

Writers need a bit of security to create their best work.  If they don’t have to work (beyond writing) in order to support their writings, they would feel unburdened and freed up to live the creative life they dream of.

As great as some books are I have no doubt that the best is yet to come.  The marketplace awaits the best researched written and analytical books on curing cancer, having great relationships, losing weight, etc.  The marketplace awaits the most motivational and inspirational book yet.  We await new ideas, visions, and approaches to life that come to us via books.  Maybe a huge prize or grant is what will get us there.

Imagine being able to write where you don’t have to worry about money, in an environment that supports and nurtures you, under an inspired setting.  Maybe we need a big prize to truly bring out the best work.

But writers write out of love, desire, and passion. They need to say something and to be heard. I don’t know that a grand prize turns a non-writer into a writer, or if it makes a writer better or more productive, but I do believe a prize or grant nominating structure will yield a wild number of submissions looking to cash in. What would be great is there would be an organized, uniform editorial review board to evaluate these works.  This would allow for a huge collection of ideas and writings.  Perhaps the very process of having all of these works under one roof could even spur additional ideas or works.

If a grand prize helps us remake our transportation system, surely it’s worth using to transform the books that get written and published.