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Anyone else following the Barnes & Noble Melodrama...?


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#1 AQCrew

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 03:14 PM

This article states the obvious, stuff we all know... (we'll maybe not the part about the software engineers of the NOOK working behind an unmarked door of a former bread bakery)

http://www.nytimes.c...?pagewanted=all

But the article states: No one expects Barnes & Noble to disappear overnight. The worry is that it might slowly wither as more readers embrace e-books.

We actually are going to tell you know that we think B & N is going to implode overnight. And we think it's going to happen late this year.


People are speculating that the company will be forced to eventually break up into two different companies -- its bricks and mortar retail business versus its NOOK ereader business.


http://www.businessw...discloses-stake

And indeed, If it is forced to sell its NOOk e-reader assets, we believe that will be the end of B&N. Many, many, many peope don't agree with that apocalyptic predication, but we're sticking by it.


And really, we simply want to bring it to the attention of everyone, so there's not shock and dismay when it does happen. There's a lot of angst -- and even anger -- behind many of the discussions, blogs, and articles about traditional publishing versus e-publishing.


We think that the only emotion that valid when discussing traditional versus e-publishing is awareness -- and an open-minded willingness to govern yourself accordingly in the wake of massive change.


Which means, if you are seeking a traditional publishing deal (or you're seeking one out), realize that your publishing date is going to be slated for 2013, 2014, 2015 once you make a sale -- so your "published" books are going to be mainly e-book sales at that point into the future.


So understand what that means and how you plan to harness the marketing & sales power of your publisher to drive ebook sales for your book. And make sure your publisher understands how they plan to do that as well.


Conversely, if you're considering going it alone and diving into the e-publishing ocean: ditto -- because you have now chosen to be your own publisher and your own marketing and sales tour de force. Which means you -- and you alone -- are responsible for driving the ebook sales of your book.



#2 C. Taylor

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 03:54 PM

Ha! I just said something like this not a couple of hours ago! I totally agree that B&N will start closing more and more stores. The whole "I want to be traditionally published so I can have my book in a store" is going to quickly be a thing of the past. I know traditional publishers still have a lot to offer writers, BUT I think what they do offer is being squeezed as their budgets shrink. More and more authors have to do their own marketing, promoting, etc. and even the security you once had seems to be tenuous. I personally think that unless you're offered an amazing book deal or you're doing it because it's always been your dream to be pub'd by X publisher or to work with Y editor, then self-pub'ing your ebook is worth serious consideration, when you take into account royalty rates, etc.

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#3 S Jenan

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 04:21 PM

I am SOOOOO close to epubbing. However, I fear that the weakest part of my personal equation (an unfortunate recessive gene A4LP on the 5th chromosome, which is responsible for marketing acumen), is the very thing which makes traditional pubbing most attractive for me. I realize publisher support is dwindling, but I'm so sales-adverse, I've grown accustomed to writing checks to my salespeople, and the relationship seems natural.

But that rumbling in the distance, I can't ignore forever. It's approaching.

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#4 J. Lea Lopez

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 04:38 PM

I fear that the weakest part of my personal equation (an unfortunate recessive gene A4LP on the 5th chromosome, which is responsible for marketing acumen), is the very thing which makes traditional pubbing most attractive for me.


Oh my gosh I HAVE THAT TOO! :tongue:

I can't help but hate the fact that brick and mortar book stores are declining. I love a paper book. And I'm loathe to purchase them from anywhere but a physical store where I can go and look and touch before I buy. *sigh*

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#5 Litgal

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 05:39 PM

Just a caveat -- your sales are going to be mostly ebook sales IN CERTAIN GENRES. Sadly (at least for those of us in them) there are other genres (historical fiction is a big one) that are taking very, VERY slowly to ebooks. I don't know what the heck we (in genres where the sales of paper books still out vastly out number e-book sales) are going to do precisely if another retail outlet closes. I plan to curl in a fetal position and cry, lol. Naw, I just plan to drink heavily. But I know I would have missed a heck of a lot of sales in a non B&N world (and that's not speculation).
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#6 C. Taylor

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 05:54 PM

Lit, I think it'll come down to people finally being forced to convert to ereaders or they'll just have to purchase books online. Of all the genres, I'd think those with the hefty word count books (like historical and fantasy) would have the most readers wanting to switch over to ereaders. I know I got carpal tunnel trying to read the outlander series in paperback! I would have loved an ereader at the time. lol.

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#7 S.K. Keogh

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 06:20 PM

Yep, people will have to give up paper books just like people long ago had to give up 8-track players...then cassette players...then CDs... Personally I'm glad that my novel is available in both paperback and e-book because at least among my inner circle of friends and family most of them do NOT have e-readers (which makes me scratch my head; LOL), so they purchased the paperback.

Let me share another flaw in Barnes & Nobles' business model. Many small publishers--including my publisher, Fireship Press--are POD publishers when it comes to the paperback--Print On Demand; they print only what they sell, which is a sound business decision in today's world. Barnes & Noble's policy is anti-POD because whatever they potentially purchase they will eat if they don't sell, whereas with the big publishing houses whatever doesn't sell goes back to the publisher and the publisher swallows the cost. And since B&N doesn't carry POD publishers' books in their store (only online), they will not have someone like me doing a book signing. To me that is foolish from a business standpoint. Having a living, breathing author in your store, smiling and peddling a product that they can buy for their freakin' Nook through B&N to me sounds like a win-win for the store. But obviously B&N doesn't think too clearly.

I've never been a fan of B&N. Their prices are outrageous for everything from books to movies to whatever. If their brick and mortar stores eventually shrivel up and die, they can blame more than technology. They can blame themselves. Perhaps if they do die then we'll see the smaller, more personal books stores that B&N killed come back. I would love that.

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#8 RC Lewis

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 06:30 PM

Argh. For me, it's not even about loving/hating paper books or e-books, or nostalgia for bookstores (though I do have a much easier time with brick-and-mortar browsing than online). It's that my students just this morning started talking again about how they don't like reading electronically. One girl has a Kindle Fire. The rest say they still want physical books, because if the ability to jump onto the internet is right there in their hands, they know the temptation of distraction will be too great.

Also, as always, the cost issue. Yeah, I'm still living in one of the poorest states in the country. I have students who don't even have physical books in their homes. I have students who don't have internet access. These students are why I have a mini-library of physical books in my classroom, and that's why I still haven't gone full-speed-ahead on the e-reading train.

When Borders closed, the capital city of this state became essentially bookstore-less. The nearest B&N is an hour away. There are some local bookstores, but they're all very niche, nothing much mainstream. The only place to buy a book in this city now is Walmart, Target, etc.

I want my books to be available for any teen to read, whether from a bookstore, school library, book order, or—sure—e-book. It's an issue of accessibility for me. That's what I continue to worry about.
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#9 TBruce

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 06:42 PM

That kind of business split didn't work out so hot for Netflix when they tried it; if B&N does go that road I hope they study the lessons to be learned there.

Susan, I totally agree about B&N's position on PoD printed books - stupid, stupid stupid - though it's not just B&N. Most bookstores won't stock books that aren't returanble to the publisher, except on a consignment basis. It's no longer just small/"indie" presses that are using PoD and it's not going out on a limb to say that all publishers will be going this way soon - it's one more cost cutting measure in an increasingly narrow-margined business so bookstores are going to need to rethink their policy or soon there won't be books they are willing to stock. The whole industry has to rethink the way it does business (and prices that business). Steve Almond was the first person I heard say it, but I've heard many others say it since then - bookstores would be smart to get an Expresso Book Machine in each of their stores - in five minutes the customer can have a freshly created book and the store can stock EVERY TITLE EVERY WRITTEN. No more shelf space issues (bookstore can then have a much smaller footprint, which equals lower overhead....). Oh the possibilities!

I am not a risk taker by nature, I usually will go with the sure bet/bird in hand, and even I dove into the small/"indie" press publishing pool because it no longer seems all that avant garde or risky (at least, any more risky than any other part of the publishing industry. Let's face it, it's ALL risky!). Of course, I went with a publisher that prints both e-books and print books because I'm a dead tree girl all the way :tongue:

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#10 Michelle_in_WI

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 06:45 PM

I agree about B&N having much more than e-books to blame for their failing. Perfect example: In the mind of my four year old, B&N is a TOY STORE that also sells books. I know he's just a preschooler, but I find it rather telling.
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#11 Litgal

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 07:04 PM

It doesn’t matter why it’s failing. If it were Satan and deserved to go down in flames, the salient point is for those of us with books just out or coming out during the this tumultuous period it will mean less sales in the short run. For some, not enough sales in he short run will mean no opportunity for the long run.

Yes, CT and SK people will switch eventually -- even in the dinosaur genres. But again, for those of us out now (or shortly to be out as you are) in a genre where readers are dragging their feet it is NOT a fun time. Not. Fun.


I sure appreciate all the sales B&N has made for me.
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#12 Litgal

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 07:09 PM

since B&N doesn't carry POD publishers' books in their store (only online), they will not have someone like me doing a book signing. To me that is foolish from a business standpoint. Having a living, breathing author in your store, smiling and peddling a product that they can buy for their freakin' Nook through B&N to me sounds like a win-win for the store. But obviously B&N doesn't think too clearly.


SK there is a reason that most publishers stopped paying for book tours. Unless you are a household name they do not, in fact, sell that many books. I just did a highly publicized, every seat filled, triple author appearance. Did it sell enough books to warrant the amount of prep-time and in-store time I put in? Probably not. Because HERE'S THE THING -- A MAJORITY OF FOLKS WHO TURN OUT FOR SIGNINGS already have a connection to the author. They would/should buy the book even without an event. So why did I do an event -- 1) because it was fun and made me feel like a real author; 2) because the store gave my book a huge display in the front window for more than a week leading up to the event and that probably DID help my sales. So don't sweat the no signing policy.
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#13 Rick Spilman

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 07:34 PM

It is hard to see a future for B&N. I do not think that they will neccessarily implode soon, though it could happen. Borders was bleeding cash in its last years whereas B&N is muddling on. They had slightly stronger cash flow in 2011 than they did in 2010, no doubt reflecting a slightly improving economy.

From a strategic point of view, I think B&N's biggest problems are that their on-line store is not as effective as Amazon's and the switch to on-line purchasing makes their big box brick and mortar stores less attractive overall. Even if I only wanted to buy print books, I would still have to get in my car and drive to a B&N store and back again, or I could click and have the book delivered to me in a couple of days. Or in a few seconds, if I chose an ebook.

The obvious concern if B&N goes away is that Amazon will be the only big player and will be able to exert monopoly power. Ironically, the folks who could prevent that from happening have been colluding together in back rooms, rather than competing. Apple could be a formidable competitor to Amazon but has been slow to step up. Apple is the largest corporation in the the world these days with something like six times the market capitalization of Amazon. They have the market presence, brand and cash flow to easily face down Amazon. The Big Six are also backed by global conglomerates. They could and should also compete with Amazon.

Some have argued that the fact that so many can compete with Amazon should they choose to do so, will itself limit Amazon's attempt to exert monopoly power. I hope that that is true.

Lit, not all segments of even historical fiction are stuck on paper. I know writers of historical fiction who are selling five times more e-books than print books. The obvious problems is that the old business models are not working like they once did and the new business models are still developing before our eyes.

For we writers, mice dodging the battling elephants, nimbleness is really our only choice.

#14 RC Lewis

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 07:49 PM

For we writers, mice dodging the battling elephants, nimbleness is really our only choice.


Have you seen what elephants do when confronting mice?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTuS1ISYEak

(Couldn't help it.) :blush:

(Oh, and I suspect it's more a matter of the elephant not wanting to step on the mouse than being "afraid" of it.)
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#15 Rick Spilman

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 07:33 AM

Have you seen what elephants do when confronting mice?

(Couldn't help it.) :blush:

(Oh, and I suspect it's more a matter of the elephant not wanting to step on the mouse than being "afraid" of it.)


Wow, I intended the metaphor as the small being trampled by the mighty. I had forgotten all about the old story, apparently true, that elephants are afraid of mice.

On the other hand, the mouse was placed in a large ball of dung, which does remind me of certain aspects of a writer's existence.

#16 mwsinclair

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 08:50 AM

lol

#17 Peter Burton

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 11:02 AM

Hmmmm?

I have to wonder if we are being faced with the oldest problem life has to present us with: Evolve, or perish.

I think it's going to come down to this eventually: Even with a traditional publishing contract, most of an author's sales are going to be e-books. The diminishing returns for the publishers mean a lot less capitol is going to be set aside for marketing/promotion. This means that if the aspiring author wants a chance for their book to succeed, they are going to have to do that job for themselves, (Just as they would if they self-published.)

While the traditional contract will still hold the advantages of professional editing, and probably e-book programming, the promoting and marketing is going to fall squarely on the author's shoulders. The only difference at this point will be, if --there's that gigantic little word again-- an author happens to have written a good story, busts their backside getting a readership, and succeeds in doing all this; the traditionally published author is going to get a much smaller piece of the pie for the same amount of labor.

It could be me, but something seems wrong with that picture.

Naturally, I haven't expressed all the little nuances in that little bit of observation because of limited space and time. I could also be quite wrong in than observation; but it seems to me that no matter how this all plays out, we as authors are going to have to take on bigger roles and adapt to the change. Either that, or throw in the towel and go play video games, instead.

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#18 Robin Breyer

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 12:38 PM

I've never been a fan of B&N. Their prices are outrageous for everything from books to movies to whatever. If their brick and mortar stores eventually shrivel up and die, they can blame more than technology. They can blame themselves. Perhaps if they do die then we'll see the smaller, more personal books stores that B&N killed come back. I would love that.


B&N's prices are based on the Cover price or MSRP of the products they sell. What you are seeing is the price that the maker of the product intended them to be sold at. The same prices found in your locally owned stores for the same products. The prices aren't outrageous, but normal. I first saw this with popular music and movies at Best Buy, Wal-mart, and Target vs. B&N and Soundwarehouse. We have become so used to expecting discounts that we aren't even aware of what the full intended price is for the things we buy. And at the same time Whole Foods is booming and they sell virtually the same thing as their competition, but for more. We humans are very strange.

To be honest, I find it really ridiculous that we have such a huge industry that has the return of unsold items so built in to it. Is that really practical in this day and age? With PoD available, the need to ship and stock lots of copies should be going down. I think if B&N and the publisher would examine this practice and revamp it, they would solve a lot of problems, if it isn't already too late. I for one would be very sad and upset to see B&N go. I have found so many good books by browsing. Books I bought paper copies of. I certainly hope this prediction about B&N turns out to be incorrect. Not to be harsh, but our local bookstores just aren't the same caliber (though my city did have one a long time ago that put B&N to shame).

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#19 S.K. Keogh

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 08:23 PM

B&N's prices are based on the Cover price or MSRP of the products they sell. What you are seeing is the price that the maker of the product intended them to be sold at. The same prices found in your locally owned stores for the same products. The prices aren't outrageous, but normal.


Outrageous to me is when a movie or CD (for example) is $5 to $10 higher at B&N than at any other store carrying the same product. The height of stupidity with this was when our local Borders was going out of business and had this store-wide "sale", and their "sale" movies were more expensive than the non-sale price for the same movie at another store, like Best Buy, Target, etc. That was laughable. Again, another reason why Borders is no longer in business.

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#20 Robin Breyer

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 11:25 PM

Outrageous to me is when a movie or CD (for example) is $5 to $10 higher at B&N than at any other store carrying the same product. The height of stupidity with this was when our local Borders was going out of business and had this store-wide "sale", and their "sale" movies were more expensive than the non-sale price for the same movie at another store, like Best Buy, Target, etc. That was laughable. Again, another reason why Borders is no longer in business.


Like I said, list/cover/MSRP. I used to go into Target and Best buy and they had all the latest, but I'd go into B&N, and they had 10 times the selection. The B&N price was always the same as the local stores and the music store in the mall. B&N is primarily a book store, which is why if you go to one you will see 10%, 20%, 30% off stickers on books because B&N has connections to avoid some of the distributor charges on books and can pass that on to customers. Best Buy, Target, & Wal-Mart don't have much of a selection, but they can get the titles they do carry by avoiding the middle men. That is how discounts are supposed to work, you save on your expenses and pass that savings on to the customer and keep your profit margin. Just because we are not used to seeing the real price of CD's, DVD's, and books, doesn't mean that a retailer like B&N is over charging for them, only that we have gotten too used to the discounts. A physical store, buying from a distributor, cannot compete with that and still make any profit.

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Writing as Scott Seldon:
Website, Blog, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and iTunes

Writing as Robert Courtland:
Website, Blog, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and iTunes

 

 





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