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How Ebook Authors Can Save Books From Irrelevance

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Presented at the Writing for Change conference in San Francisco, November 13, 2010. This presentation explores how the book publishing industry - which has changed little over the last 50 years - has ...

Presented at the Writing for Change conference in San Francisco, November 13, 2010. This presentation explores how the book publishing industry - which has changed little over the last 50 years - has pursued business practices detrimental to the future of the book. The presentation concludes that in order to save the book and preserve its value to mankind, books and the publishing industry must change by proactively embracing technology rather than becoming victimized by it. Presented by Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords.

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    How Ebook Authors Can Save Books From Irrelevance How Ebook Authors Can Save Books From Irrelevance Presentation Transcript

    •  
    • My Background
    • About me
      • Founder of Smashwords
        • Free ebook publishing and distribution platform for indie authors
        • We distribute ebooks to multiple major retailers (Apple, Sony, B&N, Kobo, etc.)
      • Author of…
    • How Smashwords Works
      • UPLOAD
        • Author/publisher uploads a Microsoft Word file, formatted to our Style Guide
      • CONVERT
        • We automatically convert to 9 ebook formats
      • PUBLISH
        • Ready for immediate sale online
      • DISTRIBUTE
        • Distribute to major retailers
      • GET PAID
        • Authors/publishers receive 85% of net
    • Indie ebooks published at Smashwords 140 6,000 24,000
    • A REVOLUTION IS UPON US
    • CHANGE IS AFOOT ooh, pretty!
    • BOOKS ARE ENDANGERED
    • WE MUST SAVE BOOKS
    • Books are Precious
      • Long form content essential for
        • deep dive knowledge immersion
        • entertainment
      • Books are vessels for cultural preservation
        • Noah’s ark
        • Promotes cross-cultural understanding
    • TECHNOLOGY IS COLLIDING WITH PUBLISHING
    • Technology Represents the Means by Which Consumer Desires are Realized Things Touched by Technology Usually Become Faster, Smaller, Cheaper
    • Books are in Jeopardy
      • In a world of faster, smaller, cheaper, print books have lost ground
        • Expensive
          • Unaffordable to vast majority of world’s literate population
        • Unavailable, inaccessible to global market
          • Archaic rights practices limit distribution
          • Geographic limitations of print distribution
    • BIG PUBLISHERS ARE MAKING THE PROBLEM WORSE
    • UNTIL RECENTLY, BIG PUBLISHERS HAD A MONOPOLY ON THE PRINTING PRESSES AND DISTRIBUTION TO BOOKSTORES
    • Publishers were the deciders
      • Publishers controlled:
        • Who got published
        • Who got distributed
        • What readers could read
    • IT WAS A SWEET RACKET FOR PUBLISHERS Readers wanted books Publishers controlled the supply $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $
    • BUT THEN THE INTERNET HAPPENED
    • … THE RULES CHANGED FOREVER
    • TRADITIONAL PUBLISHERS ILL-EQUIPPED TO SAVE BOOKS uh oh!
    • They’re too slow
      • 12-18 month release cycles
    • … their expenses are too high
    • … they’re exposed to too much risk
        • Pay author advances
          • Can’t predict demand
          • many books fail and don’t earn out
        • Broken supply chain
          • 30%+ of printed books returned to publisher unsold
        • Amazon is eating publishers for lunch
          • Vertically integrated from authors to readers
    • Publishers try to mitigate risk by giving bean counters increased influence
    • … bean counters make poor decisions in the name of risk mitigation
        • Adopt author-unfriendly policies
          • Acquire fewer books from unproven authors
          • Paying lower advances
          • Require authors to assume more editing, marketing responsibility
        • Adopt customer-unfriendly policies
          • Favor “commercial” books
          • Scarcity tactics to maintain higher prices
          • Limit worldwide distribution
    • WE NOW LIVE IN A WORLD OF UNLIMITED ABUNDANCE AND CONSUMER CHOICE
    • YET THE BUSINESS OF BOOK PUBLISHING HAS CHANGED LITTLE IN DECADES (change is afoot)
    • Readers Demand Abundance and Freedom of Choice
      • Customer drivers:
        • Price
        • Convenience
        • Selection
      • What Wal-Mart did to small town businesses, what B&N and Borders did to indie book stores, what Amazon is doing to B&M bookstores, what the Internet will now do to publishing
        • Don’t blame Wal-Mart, B&N or Amazon – they’re only providing what customers want
      • Books, bookstores, publishers and authors must now compete against unlimited abundance
    • TO SAVE BOOKS, WE MUST CHANGE BOOKS AND CHANGE PUBLISHING
    • How to Save Books
      • To save books, we must leverage technology to make books:
        • Smaller, faster, cheaper
        • More available
        • More discoverable
        • More accessible
        • More compelling than alternative content options
    • The Better Book is Here
      • It’s called an ebook
      • Same book, only better
        • Smaller, faster, cheaper
        • More available
        • More discoverable
        • More accessible
        • More functional
    • Ebooks as a percentage of US wholesale trade market Source: Association of American Publishers, publishers.org
    • As an author, the power to save books is in your hands
    • Indie Authors + Ebooks + New eBook Supply Chain Will Save Books
    • Indie Ebook Authors Have Opportunity to Better Serve the New Customer Requirements
      • Benefits of indie ebooks
        • faster release cycles
        • instant access to global market
        • democratized distribution
        • closer to customers
        • lower expenses
        • no paper!
        • never go out of print
        • can offer lower cost, higher profit books
    • The Economics of Indie Ebooks Will Drive Increased Indie Authorship
      • Higher profits than traditional
        • 70-100% net for indie e- vs. 5-25% traditional
      • Price ebooks for less yet still make more per copy than traditionally pubbed print authors
          • $8 indie ebook earns over $6.00, vs <$.40 trad MMP
          • $.99 indie ebook earns more than $8.00 trad MMP
          • Lower price = reach more readers = more sales at higher profits per sale
      MMP=Mass market paperback, aka “pocket book” in some countries
    • My Predictions: Ebook sales dollar volume will exceed print within 5 years Ebook unit volume will exceed print within 3 years
    • Summary
      • Books are essential to the future of mankind
      • We must save books by changing books and changing publishing
        • Books face increased competition from alternative, lower cost sources for entertainment and knowledge
      • Indie ebooks can make books more available and more accessible to more people
      • Thanks to ebooks, opportunity to connect readers with books has never been greater
    • Thank you for listening! Q&A Where to find Mark Coker: Web: www.smashwords.com Blog: blog.smashwords.com HuffPo: huffingtonpost.com/mark-coker Twitter: @ markcoker Email: first initial second initial @smashwords.com