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The Indie Ebook
Revolution
Writing for Change
San Francisco
November 13, 2010
Mark Coker
Founder, Smashwords
My Background
About me
• Founder of Smashwords
• Free ebook publishing and distribution
platform for indie authors
• We distribute ebook...
How Smashwords Works
• UPLOAD
• Author/publisher uploads a Microsoft Word file, formatted
to our Style Guide
• CONVERT
• W...
Indie ebooks published at
Smashwords
140
6,000
24,000
0
5000
10000
15000
20000
25000
2008 2009 2010 (Nov)
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 f...
TECHNOLOGY IS COLLIDING WITH
PUBLISHING
Technology Represents the Means by
Which Consumer Desires are Realized
Things Touched by Technology Usually
Become Faster,...
Books are in Jeopardy
• In a world of faster, smaller, cheaper,
print books have lost ground
• Expensive
• Unaffordable to...
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
• Bro...
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 book...
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 t...
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
...
The Better Book is Here
• It’s called an ebook
• Same book, only better
• Smaller, faster, cheaper
• More available
• More...
Ebooks as a percentage of US
wholesale trade market
Source: Association of American Publishers, publishers.org
0%
1%
2%
3%...
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 rel...
The Economics of Indie Ebooks Will
Drive Increased Indie Authorship
• Higher profits than traditional
• 70-100% net for in...
My Predictions:
Ebook sales dollar volume will exceed
print within 5 years
Ebook unit volume will exceed print within
3 ye...
Summary
• Books are essential to the future of mankind
• We must save books by changing books and
changing publishing
• Bo...
Thank you for listening!
Q&A
Where to find Mark Coker:
Web: www.smashwords.com
Blog: blog.smashwords.com
HuffPo: huffingto...
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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 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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Transcript of "How Ebook Authors Can Save Books From Irrelevance"

  1. 1. The Indie Ebook Revolution Writing for Change San Francisco November 13, 2010 Mark Coker Founder, Smashwords
  2. 2. My Background
  3. 3. 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…
  4. 4. 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
  5. 5. Indie ebooks published at Smashwords 140 6,000 24,000 0 5000 10000 15000 20000 25000 2008 2009 2010 (Nov)
  6. 6. A REVOLUTION IS UPON US
  7. 7. CHANGE IS AFOOT ooh, pretty!
  8. 8. BOOKS ARE ENDANGERED
  9. 9. WE MUST SAVE BOOKS
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. TECHNOLOGY IS COLLIDING WITH PUBLISHING
  12. 12. Technology Represents the Means by Which Consumer Desires are Realized Things Touched by Technology Usually Become Faster, Smaller, Cheaper
  13. 13. 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
  14. 14. BIG PUBLISHERS ARE MAKING THE PROBLEM WORSE
  15. 15. UNTIL RECENTLY, BIG PUBLISHERS HAD A MONOPOLY ON THE PRINTING PRESSES AND DISTRIBUTION TO BOOKSTORES
  16. 16. Publishers were the deciders • Publishers controlled: • Who got published • Who got distributed • What readers could read
  17. 17. IT WAS A SWEET RACKET FOR PUBLISHERS Readers wanted books Publishers controlled the supply $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $
  18. 18. BUT THEN THE INTERNET HAPPENED
  19. 19. … THE RULES CHANGED FOREVER
  20. 20. TRADITIONAL PUBLISHERS ILL- EQUIPPED TO SAVE BOOKS uh oh!
  21. 21. They’re too slow • 12-18 month release cycles
  22. 22. … their expenses are too high
  23. 23. … 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
  24. 24. Publishers try to mitigate risk by giving bean counters increased influence
  25. 25. … 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
  26. 26. WE NOW LIVE IN A WORLD OF UNLIMITED ABUNDANCE AND CONSUMER CHOICE
  27. 27. YET THE BUSINESS OF BOOK PUBLISHING HAS CHANGED LITTLE IN DECADES (change is afoot)
  28. 28. 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
  29. 29. TO SAVE BOOKS, WE MUST CHANGE BOOKS AND CHANGE PUBLISHING
  30. 30. 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
  31. 31. 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
  32. 32. Ebooks as a percentage of US wholesale trade market Source: Association of American Publishers, publishers.org 0% 1% 2% 3% 4% 5% 6% 7% 8% 9% 10% 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
  33. 33. As an author, the power to save books is in your hands
  34. 34. Indie Authors + Ebooks + New eBook Supply Chain Will Save Books
  35. 35. 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
  36. 36. 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
  37. 37. My Predictions: Ebook sales dollar volume will exceed print within 5 years Ebook unit volume will exceed print within 3 years
  38. 38. 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
  39. 39. 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
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