Bookstore-Publisher-Reader Relations

Read an interesting article over at the Vroman’s blog about how publishers need to create brand recognition. This was in reference to a Seth Godin speech made that stated in no uncertain terms that publishers don’t really provide anything the authors can’t now do for themselves. One of the things stated for publishers to change in the future was brand. The simple fact of the matter is that readers don’t buy based on publisher and for the most part, have no clue who they are or what kinds of books they publish. I freely admit that I pay little attention to it, as far as buying anything goes. I do look and see if a read a book, but it has zero to do with my buying decision. As for the pubs do nothing that authors can’t now do for themselves? Technically, this is probably true. Realistically, I think that’s bullshit.

For anyone who has seriously looked at self-publishing, you realize that the amount of work involved and often money as well, is not worth the return on investment. The chances for success are even less than in the traditional marketplace. Publishers give authors the leeway to keep writing. While I know that authors have a far more active role in marketing their books (I’m at this point now, and can see that it will be a lot of work), publishers take care of a lot of things that would otherwise make it so I could hardly write at all until my current book had run its course. This might be different for a full-time writer, but most of us are not. So, can authors do everything publishers do for their book? Yes, they could. Do authors want to turn their marketing efforts into a full-time business? Hell no. The publisher has resources, people, and expetise that I simply do not have and don’t want to invest in having. I want to write. I’ll help my publisher to sell my book with the time and resources at my disposal. It’s a partnership, a business arrangement, and far more worthwhile to me than attempting to go at it on my own. Simple fact of the matter is, I have no desire to be my own publisher.

Regarding brand. I guess once upon a time, bookstores used to actually shelve books by publisher. If the future of saving publishing is in this direction, why is it so hard to work on this? I’ll admit that I’m not terribly savvy when it comes to bookstores and how they work with publishers. I do know that pubs pay stores a good deal of money to prominently display particular authors. The almighty co-op. I’ll see tables set up for certain genres like fantasy or thrillers, with certain authors receiving higher billing. I understand this. It makes sense. So, why can’t/aren’t they doing this on the scale of publishers/imprints? People don’t buy based on publishers you say. Ok, so? Change their perceptions on this. I’m guessing publishers will pay for prominent space highlighing their releases. Bookstores can certainly change how they direct and educate their customers. You liked that Tor fantasy? Go check out the Tor display for other fantasies they have out now. I’m sure you’ll like some of their other offerings. I know as a reader that I will sometimes as a bookstore to recommend other authors like this particular author I really liked, so why not direct along publisher lines? Maybe I’m wrong but this makes a great deal of sense to me.

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