“Direct to consumer” is not about selling books through your Web site.
Rather, it is a philosophy that puts your consumer, the reader, first and foremost in each and every activity that the business undertakes. That might seem straightforward enough, but with decades of complex author, agent and retail agreements piling up — not to mention territorial licensing, franchise deals and the like — readers may have taken a bit of a back seat in publisher corporate strategy.
The first phase of the digital evolution of the industry has taken place, and where we go next depends on publishers shifting their business away from B2B — we are no longer in the exclusive domains of resellers and middle men. Whoever makes the most of the unparalleled direct access to the consumers that digital platforms provide will emerge as the next dominant player in this ever-changing ecosystem.
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Publishers must recognize that they are brand owners
They are the gatekeepers standing between fans and the authors and stories they love.
- Ask the average reader who their favourite author is and you get a clear-cut answer (or two, or more!).
- Ask who publishes that author and you see where the branding loses focus.
I look to my previous career in videogame publishing and how game publishers organized business verticals and brands around genres, and I see a lot of opportunities for book imprints with more defined offerings to play a larger role in bridging the publisher-to-reader divide. On noisy social networks, targeted content that speaks to individual interests is more likely to attract attention than general mass communication.
Authors, with varying degrees of success, have been better at connecting and communicating with their readers. Publishers can amplify those successes, instead of adding competing voices to the mix, by empowering and enabling these connections and by looking to innovators in the digital space to maximize the breadth and depth of these interactions.
So what is it that readers want?
The simple answer is more books to read. The detailed answer involves curation, personalization and greater engagement. Whether that engagement is with the publisher, imprint, author or book character depends on the book genre and reader habits, and there is no one-size-fits-all.
Link to the rest at Futurebook and thanks to Barb for the tip.
PG is interested that Futurebook has discovered a great unaddressed longing among readers – more engagement with publishers. “I just want to snuggle up with Simon & Schuster.”
PG suspects the only people who truly want more engagement with publishers are those authors who have signed publishing contracts and can’t get anyone from their publisher to reply to their emails or return their calls. And unemployed MFA graduates.
Readers don’t care who published the book. Moviegoers don’t care who financed the movie. Music fans don’t care who distributed the song.