Wednesday, May 31, 2017

BOOK BIZ | Goodman's Plan for Indie Stores

Peter Goodman, Fighting for Us.
Champion of the Indie Book.
Peter Goodman's term as board chair of the Independent Book Publishers Association is coming to an end.

He is the publisher of Stone Bridge Press, which specializes in books on Asia.  He sold his company to a Japanese distributor and then bought it back. Sounds like the Rockefeller Center deal; I hope he made a bundle, net, on the two transactions.

He has written a full-page swan song as he leaves IBPA under the "Soapbox" heading in the Publishers Weekly of May 15, 2017 distributed at BookExpo in the Javits Center, where I will be for the next two days (June 1-2).

Here is my restatement of his article, with a few points of my own added. Goodman says that the problems with the existing system include these four:
  • Big publishers have a winner-take-all mentality.
  • Lesser-known authors have trouble finding a publisher to bet on them.
  • Meanwhile, people with some name recognition (for whatever reason) are recruited to author books, regardless of their ability to generate new ideas or write well, while the real talent is paid off for anonymous ghost-writing. 
  • Lesser-known writers are discouraged by the lack of support or opportunity to sell their books under their own name.
Goodman calls for a modern Indie Bookstore with the following characteristics:
  1. Community driven. TLC for the consumer.
  2. Totally wired and plugged in with kiosks for buying books.
  3. Based on Print On Demand (POD), with books printed in less than 10 minutes.
  4. Multimedia oriented — you can buy e-books, movies, music. WhatEVER.
  5. Participatory, a gathering place. Workshops, etc. The Espresso machine right in front. Starbucks and bookstacks, the Barnes-and-Noble coffee-shop model. Walk in and you will find some of the same welcoming embrace as in a coffee shop or a well-run modern public library. Be a bookstore where local writers can leave their books for sale, either offset-printed and cheaply bound, or available as a POD book.
  6. No returns! The return policy is a killer for indie publishers. This will limit the books that the bookstore will buy, but it also means that the authors won't suffer when the books come back.
Goodman doesn't pretend this model will happen without some serious changes in the industry. He is asking for a concerted effort to make it a reality. Indie publishers and unknown writers should not have to rely on Amazon. It's not good, he says, for the growth of our culture.


I spoke with a writer for the French equivalent of Publishers Weekly. He said the big problem in the book business is the loss of diversity. Amazon now has 80 percent of the digital book business and 50 percent of the total book-publishing industry, and that is not healthy. It is dangerous.

There is a glimmer of hope in the Indie Book business, as some self-publishers have done very well for themselves.

A chart for March 2017 sales shows that the best-selling self-published books are Romance novels, accounting for 16 of the 25 best-selling books. The best-selling book is Kept from You by Nashoda Rose. Prices of the Romance novels are $3 to $8 a copy. The other nine books on the top 25 are Self-Help (1 title, $10), Memoir (2 titles, $8 each), YA Fiction (2 titles, $4 each), Health (1 title, $10), Mystery/Thriller (1 title, $4), Fiction (1 title, $10) and Poetry (1 title, $10).

Related Posts: Book Design Outsourcing . Goodman Plan for Indie Bookstores .  BOOK BIZ | Critical Mass

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