Thursday, June 7, 2012

Publishers: Welcome to Sales 101

Thanks to the always informative Victoria Strauss (Twitter: @victoriastrauss) for highlighting this little gem of an article on the "5 Things the Book Industry Will Be Talking About Next Week"  (post BEA). 
"Publishers are realizing that to compete with Amazon they have to be able to sell directly to consumers. One way they can do that is by making their books more discoverable." -- L.H. Owen

Discovery is a core principle of sales. Products will not sell if consumers don't know the product exists. Common sense, right? The notion that publishers, particularly the long-established ones, are just now toying with how to address end-consumer discovery because of Amazon is sadly laughable. Recall that Amazon began as online bookstore. The middle-middle man sprouted a second head so it could don the cap of publisher. Now the Amazon is cutting out the puffed-pastry layers between author and end-consumer. They're fully invading the domain of established publishers. Now publishers are scrambling to figure out how to become a retailer.


Authors' demands for improved discoverability fell on deaf ears because retailers remained the primary sales targets for publishing houses. It wasn't Jane Doe in her chaise at the pool. Convince a store's buyer to buy and the product was on the shelves. The onus to reach Jane was on the store. Publishers excelled at selling a batch of products to a retailer. Now publishers need to sell individual books to Jane to dodge the grabby sticky fingers of Amazon.


Publishers ought to take a few pages from CPG companies about Brand Recognition. Establishing consumer awareness and loyalty to their brands is the first big step in Discovery. Everybody needs toothpaste, but Proctor & Gamble has a loyal following of Crest consumers. Original paste, whitening, overnight, total care -- people buy Crest.

In Book Brand Value, Harlequin leads the way. You don't hear consumers ask for a "Berkley Book." You do hear them ask for a "Harlequin."


Invest in the brand of the publishing house. Regain the consumers' trust in quality of the product.   Demand technology conform to a universal industry standard. Lower all barriers to purchase. Make it easier for the grass-roots to spread the word.

Discovery = Sales 101

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