From Publishing Perspectives:
Nearly every publisher is chasing the direct-to-consumer market. But the question for consumers has always been, “why should I buy a book direct from a publisher at full price when I can buy the same book from an online retailer, such as Amazon or Overstock, at a deep discount?” The answer is likely to be this: personalization and customization.
This can take a variety of forms. To cite just one example, Illinois-based Sourcebooks offers the Put Me in the Story app, which allows parents to personalize a selection of Sourcebooks titles, as well as licensed material from Sesame Street and The Berenstein Bears, by making their child a character within the text.
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The question remains “what happens when publishers begin offering even more radical personalization and customization?” Imagine the potential of a Big Five trade house offering you the opportunity to choose your binding (leather, cloth or paperback), typeface, font size, trim size, even color of the book, adding whatever options you want, and having it POD drop-shipped to your house in a day or two (see: Nike ID). Maybe you want the entire run of Penguin Classics in pocket-sized editions made to look like Moleskine notebooks? The technology already exists, but the question is how to leverage it on a large enough scale that it becomes a disruptive force. (Want to steal back customers from Amazon, this may be the way to get it done.)
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Raccah says that Sourcebooks expects by the end of 2014 at least 20% of the firm’s sales will be the result of direct-to-consumer transactions. That said, she counterintuitively adds, rather than perceiving so many sales shifting to D2C as a problem for her retail partners, who might view those transactions as lost sales, it’s really an “advantage.”
“The stuff we’re selling online is not typically stuff that could be sold in a retail environment,” she says. “For example, we might sell complementary materials that are exclusively available via our retail partners, which would bring them new customers that the didn’t have before because they were only buying online.”
Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives and thanks to Eric for the tip.
PG says the last part of the article raises an interesting issue for publishers despite the hand-waving by Sourcebooks’ CEO. Going direct-to-consumer doesn’t just cut Amazon out of the sale. It also cuts physical bookstores out of the sale.