So, this week I talked with a number of editors in our business who are complaining about recent poor bookstore sales and it caused me to consider again how our industry is changing and how I wish publishers would begin to “rethink.”
Traditionally, books are launched and shipped in a certain season and then, in subsequent seasons, these books are considered “backlist” and hopefully continue to sell (with virtually no support from the publishers). So, if the book doesn’t “take off” in its first few weeks, the publisher literally abandons it and moves on to the next one.
The beauty of this new “electronic publishing age” is that books are always there and available. And they can easily continue to be publicized and promoted during the course of the year with very little additional cost and effort. Publishers, in the acquisitions process especially, are totally losing sight of this phenomenon and they certainly aren’t taking advantage of it.
If a novel, say, which contains a story line about breast cancer and also takes place in a highly trafficked summer vacation area is published in March, there is the initial publicity for the book. But then there can be a solid push in May or June because of the location of the story and then again in October for Breast Cancer Awareness month. And this can go on year after year. The novel doesn’t just have one season.
I am currently trying to sell a book with a graduation market; but it is also a great gift title. Publishers are passing because they say that there are too many books aimed at the high school or college graduate, but to my mind that is limited thinking. Why not take advantage of the enormous marketing ability of the internet and not only publish this for that graduation market but also for September when kids leave for school and for Christmas? And what about birthdays? Why just limit the publication to a single event?
Time simply doesn’t matter any more in our business. Backlist can become front list again at a moment’s notice. If only publishers would realize this. I think they simply don’t take the time to consider the inherent possibilities that electronic publishing affords and that, I’m afraid, does matter.
What do you think?