the Fairgame Archive

2010-04-27: Outrunning the big guys
by Emily

Apparently we know some things that mainstream publishers are now racing to figure out.

The New Yorker ran a piece yesterday on the impact of the Ipad and Kindle on book publishing. It describes the dance of market cornering and pushback that's going on right now between the traditional paper press, and online distributors like Amazon over electronic books. The costs are neglible, but what price is the consumer willing to pay?

Amazon with its giant market share of online book sales wants to cut the standard price of $9.99 down to $2.99 by going directly to authors. The Kindle give them direct access to readers without the messy intervention of printing presses. Now the Ipad offers publishers a similar opportunity to go straight to the consumer, allowing them to offer ebooks to all without the use of a proprietory product like the Kindle or Nook.  This brings up questions for them all:

Tim O’Reilly, the founder and C.E.O. of O’Reilly Media, which publishes about two hundred e-books per year, thinks that the old publishers’ model is fundamentally flawed. “They think their customer is the bookstore,” he says. “Publishers never built the infrastructure to respond to customers.” Without bookstores, it would take years for publishers to learn how to sell books directly to consumers. They do no market research, have little data on their customers, and have no experience in direct retailing. With the possible exception of Harlequin Romance and Penguin paperbacks, readers have no particular association with any given publisher; in books, the author is the brand name. To attract consumers, publishers would have to build a single, collaborative Web site to sell e-books, an idea that Jason Epstein, the former editorial director of Random House, pushed for years without success.

From "Publish or Perish" by Ken Auletta.

We've got that. Sites like the unstore and IPR let indie game publishers work as a unit, looking at the public as a shared community we reach, rather than as consumers we compete to connect with. Ditto for collaborative booths at GenCon and elsewhere. Though many of us do not handle our own fulfillment, we are each in charge of our own marketing. Making connections with people interested in our games by meeting people, running games, and by having a presence online.

We're not reaching the millions of consumers that McMillan or Amazon does, but it looks like we're part of the new guard, taking the market place for what it now is and will become, rather than taking for granted what has been true in the past.

2010-05-03 01:17:35 Meguey

This doesn't surprise me. There's still so many people going deep into debt to publish, and we know there's other ways.

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