Thursday, June 14, 2012

The incredible changes in the publishing industry

Joachim De Posada

By Joachim De Posada

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The incredible changes in the book publishing industry.
After an absence of a few months, this, my first article is about an industry that I love, the publishing industry.
I have just returned from the American Booksellers Association, over 1200 booths, 600 authors, thousands of attendees and lots of changes in the industry.
First of all, it is no surprise that Amazon has had a huge influence in the publishing business. Who could have thought that a young guy named Jeff Bezos, working as a financial analyst in Wall Street, after coming up with one simple idea, having every book printed available to anyone, was able to carry it out?
Amazon right now has 75% of the market for books and electronic books.
For this reason, giant book sellers such as Borders are no longer in existence and Barnes and Noble is trying to survive. What a loss for PR when Borders closed the Mayaguez, Carolina and the Plaza Las Americas bookstores where so many of us hanged out almost every day.
So who is picking up the slack left by giant bookstores going out of business?
The independents, known in the industry as the “indies”, they are the ones that are doing very well even under a difficult economic climate.
The indies are do what no search engine can do and that is help people find books that they don’t know they want to read. When you go into an independent bookstore, sometimes you are looking for a specific book but more often, you are browsing, not searching. You are hoping to find a book you didn’t know existed. 
Independent book owners are able to be very creative in attracting people to the store. They work with local authors and organize book signings and conferences that are very well attended. Some of them sell food and drinks and on Friday nights and Saturdays make a killing.
I have asked lots of people, “do you prefer to read a physical book or would you rather read it on your kindle or notebook”?  Reading a physical book still wins but I admit that the number of electronic readers is growing. It is a generational “thing”, the younger the person the more attuned to electronics that person is. In fact, electronic books in Amazon for the first time outsold physical books.
This tremendous growth in electronic books is the main reason that now anyone can write a book.  In Never in history has there been a better opportunity to write that book that you have inside you.  And, I assure you that everyone has a good book inside. In fact, I recently read that 82% of people have at one time or another thought about writing a book
Has the thought occurred to you?
Well, the thought occurred to Dominique Bauby  who wrote his book after having suffered a stroke, one that left him totally paralyzed except for his left eyelid which he open and close. Yes, he had help from a young lady but he is the one that had the book in his head and transmitted the letters to the young lady by signaling with his eyelid. The book is called “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”.
My dear friend Frances Rios who self- published “The Glue Factor: Making presentations that make your message stick” and who is a rising star in the speaking world.
Arleen Muniz, a young teenager working as a cashier in a supermarket in Ponce, wanted to write a poetry book and she sure did when she wrote “Un lápiz a mi corazón”. She sells it everywhere she can and to people that go through her cash register every day. She is working on her second book.
My dear friend Anita Paniagua who I met when she was working for WOSO in San Juan as an account executive and teaching at a local university and she said she wanted to write a book. I encouraged her and gave her some advice and she wrote a book on entrepreneurship titled “Emprendeser”. She is doing seminars and selling books and she is very happy.
How about Tyler Duswalt who wrote a book titled “The short book on how to become a blogging expert”.  He is only 10 years old so imagine my surprise when I saw him signing books next to me in an even in Los Angeles.
Look, you now can get published in a variety of ways. You can go through a traditional publisher, very hard to do but possible. You need a literary agent to be able to even be considered by a good publisher. The advantage of going this route is the prestige it carries, and the distribution of your book by making it available in bookstores. Self-published books rarely make it to bookstores. 
You can self- publish your own book.  The advantage is that you control everything and you make up to 80% profit on your book. If you are a good marketer and you get around, you can make lots of money going the self-published way. In 2010 there were 133,036 self-published titles and this past year it went up to 211,269 (based on ISBN’s) The most popular genre in terms of units is fiction (45%) but non- fiction leads in sales (38%). The average price for a self-published fiction book is $6.94 while nonfiction titles sell for around $19.32. And while e books accounted for 41% of self-published units, they only accounted for 11% of sales; the reason? The average self-published  e-book sold for $3.18 while trade paperbacks  had an average price of $12.68 and hardcovers $14.40(as per Publishers Weekly)
A third option now is to go the electronic route. You simply write your book in the form of an e book and you upload it to Amazon. It is a rather simple process. There are people that will do it for you for very little money or you can learn rather easily and do it yourself. Just Google “how to write a kindle book?” and you will get lots of ideas. Some people have made hundreds of thousands of dollars selling their electronic books.
So, even though the industry is going through great changes, at the BEA convention I saw great enthusiasm and lots of authors very happy to be signing their books. It is just such a refreshing environment. Write your book and maybe I will see you at next year’s convention.