Sunday, 22 May 2011
Who chooses what you read?
The answer to this question is not as obvious as it may seem.
For starters, people only get to choose a book from what is available, that they get to hear about. Impossible not to know that Kate McCann recently published a book about her missing daughter, for instance, given the huge publicity and controversy it attracted.
If you go to a bookshop, what catches your eye, the piles of books in the window or on a table near the entrance, or books spine out on the bottom shelf at the back of the shop? Most members of the public are unaware that the prominent books are not those the manager has selected on merit; publishers have paid a lot of money for particular books to be well displayed.
As a self-published writer, I love Amazon because it has given me the chance to prove there is a market for my novels. At the moment, the playing field is nearly level for indies and mainstream; but is that going to last? Amazon has its own version of the table at the front of the shop; its various recommendation pages, Kindle Bargains, Editors' Picks, New to Kindle etc., all of which have a dramatic effect on sales. And publishers are turning their attention (somewhat late) to the rich pickings to be made from ebooks - which, although they will never admit it, cost them nothing at point of sale.
I subscribe to emails from The Bookseller's FUTUReBOOK. In the last one, Philip Jones said:
"At a time when agents and Amazon are moving into publishing, the ability of traditional publishers to demonstrate digital success along with physical dominance will be important. One sign of progress will clearly be when the digital book charts begin to resemble the physical book charts–since it will show that publishers can still make and break bestsellers and that price is not the only determining factor in what sells in e."
Kick out all those presumptuous indies cluttering up the top 100 just because their books are cheap and popular, then. Publishers will decide what sells.
"...crucially publishers have learned and perfected many other strategies [besides price cuts] to push books into the bestseller charts (window displays, handselling/bookseller recommendation, reviews, serialisation, POS, dumpbins, the list goes on . . .), they simply have to also now learn the skills for the digital arena."
So, who is going to be choosing what you read on your Kindle in the future? You, or the Big Six Publishers?
Posted by Lexi at Sunday, May 22, 2011