Why Digitization Is Vital for Fiction Publishers to Stay Relevant in Today’s Media Market
On Thursday night, around 9:30 pm, I finished Annie Solomon’s, Dead Shot, a March 1, 2007, release. I closed the last page and ran to my computer to download every Annie Solomon book that was available in ebook format. My quest to satiate my desire for Solomon romantic suspense books was put to an immediate halt when my search at several ebook websites came up with no results. Not one Solomon title is in ebook format.
I had a yen to read more Solomon but Warner’s inability to provide a digitized backlist deterred my would be impulse purchase. Impulse buying has long been a hallmark of retail sales. 26% of holiday shopping is impulse purchases. 60-70% of supermarket purchases are impluse buys. A research company, UIE, found that nearly 40% of online purchases are impulse driven.
This generation is more into instant gratification than any other, partly because we can get it now. Hear the song, Sleep Won’t Weep by Damien Rice on last Thursdays’ Grey Anatomy? Download it when the show is over and relive the emotional experience of Miss Grey’s death experience. Missed the show? Watch it for free online the next day. Want to catch up on the back episodes? They are at ITunes for immediate purchase.
Don’t want to drive to the store to watch that favorite movie? There is pay per view, Vongo, and soon, there will be hundreds of movies from the Amazon+TIVO partnership that will put that pre Superbowl Plasma purchase to good use. These immediate services cater to the open wallet when people are in the mood to buy. Jennifer Crusie blogged last week
I watched the first episode on NBC.com, but they didn't have any more so I went to iTunes and downloaded the entire fifteen-episode season so far.
I didn’t have the option, as Ms. Crusie did, to purchase the entire backlist of Annie Solomon. When I did go to the bookstore, only one of Solomon’s books was there. Instead of a sale of 6 books, Warner and Solomon got a 1 book sale.
Random House’s UK CEO, Gail Rebuck, addressed 40 literary agents on Friday about the increasing difficulty to make a profit in today’s marketplace and in the future. Rebuck spoke positively, however, about the investment by Random House into digital access to its books. The margins for ebooks are higher with fewer distribution costs (Random House was owed $43.3 million by the bankrupt AMS), shipping, and printing costs.
It only makes sense that all books in print (and those out of print) are made available in eform. Every other multi media source is. Why not books? Book sales are declining as books are competing with tv, movies, gaming, and the internet. On Friday night, a night I could have spent reading one of those Solomon books, I watched TV shows online instead of reading.