Monday, November 10, 2008

Books and the business of business models

My friend Dustin Howes alerted me to this recent Q&A with author Seth Godin, who talks about the future of the book biz. Here's an excerpt:
Q: What's the most important lesson the book publishing industry can learn from the music industry?

A: The market doesn't care a whit about maintaining your industry. The lesson from Napster and iTunes is that there's even MORE music than there was before. What got hurt was Tower and the guys in the suits and the unlimited budgets for groupies and drugs. The music will keep coming. Same thing is true with books. So you can decide to hassle your readers (oh, I mean your customers) and you can decide that a book on a Kindle SHOULD cost $15 because it replaces a $15 book, and if you do, we (the readers) will just walk away. Or, you could say, "if books on the Kindle were $1, perhaps we could create a vast audience of people who buy books like candy, all the time, and read more and don't pirate stuff cause it's convenient and cheap..." I'm a pessimist that the book industry will learn from music. How are you betting?
I'm so pleased to hear someone else saying to the book industry, "lower your prices to generate interest and increase sales." This was my basic argument when I blogged last June about the Amazon e-reader, Kindle, and the possibilities it opened up for the book biz to rethink its pricing strategies.

The rest of Godin's Q&A is definitely worth checking out. He has lots of interesting material there on "content" versus "book" publishing (the latter he refers to as "the life and death of trees"), as well as on the importance of publishers servicing, rather than simply making money from, their markets.

Here's hoping his thoughts don't fall on deaf ears.

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