From David Gaughran:
Since the huge shift to online purchasing and e-books, a common meme is that there is some kind of “discoverability” problem in publishing.
The funny thing is readers don’t seem to have any problem finding books they love. Any readers I talk to have a time problem – reading lists a mile long and never enough hours in the day to read all the great books they are discovering.
The real discoverability problem in publishing is that readers are discovering (and enjoying) books that don’t come from the large publishers. What these publishers have is a competition problem not a discoverability problem.
Amazon regularly gets slated for purported anti-competitive actions, but it has done more to create the digital marketplace than any other company. It has also done more to open up that marketplace to vendors of all shapes and sizes than any other company. Small publishers and self-publishers, for the very first time, have a level playing field with large publishers.
In other words, Amazon has fostered huge levels of competition that rarely get spoken about. Because Big Publishing doesn’t want actual competition. It hates actual competition.
What Big Publishing wants is the faux-competition that existed before the digital revolution – when they had a lock on distribution, reviews, chain stores, supermarkets, and airport bookstores. (Seriously, does anyone aside from James Patterson want a return to those days?)
. . . .
Big Publishing might like to think it’s a special snowflake (to which the law doesn’t apply), but its speech and actions follow a very familiar pattern that is witnessed any time a cosy club is being disrupted. By ushering in the digital revolution, then opening the marketplace up to anyone and creating a level playing field, Amazon has poured cold water on this garter snake breeding ball.
Large publishers have proved adept in one area: getting their message out. Sometimes it feels like they spend more on corporate PR than breaking new authors, and you need a bullshit dictionary to parse their statements.
So when large publishers say that the discoverability puzzle hasn’t been solved online, they are really expressing despair at retailers recommending books not published by them.
And when large publishers say that online retailers haven’t matched the experience of buying in physical stores, they mean that they wish there was some way to relegate all that stuff from small publishers and self-publishers to the warehouse, and have tables piled high with James Patterson and Snooki.
. . . .
The fear-mongers always forget Amazon’s core philosophy: recommend the product the customer is most likely to purchase. It’s interesting to note that this is the exact opposite of traditional co-op: recommending the book that the publisher wants purchased.
Link to the rest at Let’s Get Visible and thanks to David (not Gaughran) for the tip.