Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Random Thoughts on the Book Industry

Barnes & Noble
This last national bookseller is in the news again. There are rumors that it will close all its doors by the end of the year, that its sales are down 10% year-over-year, and that the Nook is not the product that they'd hoped it would be (a life-saver thrown from the Titanic). Its investors are running for the exits. But there are bright spots: increasing on-line sales (I assume ebooks), a brightening economy, and greater expansion into the college market (they operate 696 shops on college campuses). They, like all brick and mortar retailers, need to change and meet the expectations and demands of their customers. May I suggest greater involvement with their customers through in store classes and book signings, educational programs, and in store compartmentalizing of genres – they have done that with children, how about science fiction, thrillers, romance, etc. Experiential and touchy-feely, try and shed the notion of just a store. The small independents survive doing this, why not the big boys. If they close it will be a sad result of changing markets and stultified management. Such is business. Remember that the customer is supreme. When management thinks they know more than their customers is when trouble starts.

Book Delivery by Drones
Most readers are layback and reflective. We never consider time with a book as wasted time. We learn, we dream, we revel in our fantasies. But there is seldom the need to have a new book dropped on our driveway by some Terminator spawn whirlybird at some ungodly hour of the night no mater what Jeff Bezos thinks. Me, I think drones are fun, even cute (that is unless you are a terrorist). But I don’t get it. If I want instant gratification I go to my iBook and Kindle accounts and in seconds have the latest and greatest. The whirly things have limited lifting capability, demanding power supplies, spinning blades that make a blender jealous, and what about that eerie sound they make as they flit about. I for one believe they are a solution looking for a problem. (Checkout my urban blog here)

From my spot in the last aisle of the bookstore I see some interesting things on the front shelves. With the public acknowledgement of a gay college football player being drafted by the NFL look for more LGBT/NFL books. We saw this a few years ago in the teen LGBT market, so why not. I see a shift away from the mil-tech thriller just as there was a shift from the spy world of the cold war. I think the future may swing to nourish urban thrillers in the Baldacci mold, ex-military trying to find their way in a non-military world. Not as harsh as Jack Reacher though. Not surprisingly with movies from books such as Divergent, The Hunger Games, and the Ender' Game, look for more young adult mystery/thriller/dystopian books – its one way to get even with the complex world we live in – blow it up. Romance is always popular ask billionaire Nora Roberts who hasn't been off the best sellers list since 1932. It's wide open out there – good books (with good marketing, publicity, celebrity endorsements, and a dash of sex and sin) sell.

I will be away next week seeking celebrity endorsements – have a reflective Memorial Day.

More Later . . . . . . . .

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