The Bolton Book

I’ve got three copies. Two e-mailed, one sent by iMessage.

And the book business keeps raising digital prices and trying to keep the paradigms of the past in place.

The dirty little secret of the book business is most people don’t want what they’re offering. And when they do, piracy/copyright infringement is as big a problem as it was in the music business.

Then again, you read a book once, you listen to songs over and over again.

That’s another reason the movie and TV businesses have not been impacted that much by piracy/copyright infringement. There’s the one time viewing, but also the insane size of the files. But with 5G coming…

As for the TV business, a day of reckoning is coming. They’re trying to replicate the cable model, but you pay more for less. How many services can one person subscribe to? And what’s worse, is even if you subscribe to them all, even Sundance, MHz and Criterion, shows still fall through the cracks, if you want to see them you have to buy them. Talk about getting ripped-off.

Jeff Bezos wanted to grow the book business.

Instead, publishers and authors declared him public enemy number one.

Same deal with classic musicians and even new rock musicians. Spotify is the devil! Well, end result is while you keep bitching and telling your fans not to subscribe, the vacuum has been filled with new acts who have no problem with the new paradigm. Who gave it away for free on Soundcloud, who put out singles instead of full albums, who put out mixtapes, who put out multiple albums a year while you labored over yours for years and when it was released it was instantly forgotten, swept away by the tsunami of new product. So, who’s the winner here?

Bezos made every Kindle book $9.99 or less. So no one would think about the price of a book if they wanted it. Furthermore, the Kindle supersedes the store experience, as in you don’t have to travel to buy and everything is in inventory at all times. So what does the book business do? LAUD INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES! You’ve got to save your bookstore just like you had to save your record store. And sure, there are some people who still want to go to their disc shop, but almost all of the outlets have faded away and not radiated, which is what should happen to bookstores too.

If you want to call a bookstore a social experience, where you grab some coffee and talk about books, fine. But as for buying…it’s a ridiculous enterprise. Sure, you can browse, but the truth is the recommendation engine on Amazon is far superior (although you’ve not got to wade through all the sponsored product, enough already Amazon, how much more money do you need to make, no more advertising on your own site, it’s confusing!) And prices are too high.

We live in a digital, on demand world.

But not in books.

Maybe there should be a subscription model. Amazon is trying this, but with too few titles. Imagine if everything was available for ten bucks a month. Sure, this would be a good deal for frequent readers, but imagine all the casual readers who would sign up!

Forget those who go to the library, even via Libby, they’ll never pay, these are the same people who ironically say they want to own their music and won’t sign up for Spotify.

It gets even crazier. Steve Jobs changed book selling to the agency model, but then the government cracked down for collusion and the bottom line, leaving all the b.s. out, is that digital book prices in the Kindle store WENT UP! And I thought antitrust was supposed to be to the benefit of the consumer.

The publishing model is broken. For so many reasons. First, the inane publication schedule. You finish the book and it doesn’t come out for a year. They’ve got to seed reviewers, they’ve got to print, they’ve got to ship…all that’s gone out the window in the music business, because it’s about the long haul, not the short, front-loading is now irrelevant, tracks live forever online and if there’s a groundswell, you’ll make money over time, if people listen and then move on, you’ll be broke. Print the books when they’re ready, digitally. What kind of bizarre world do we live in where the printed word is last, where you can make and distribute music, movies and TV in less time!

And we all know production, shipping and returns are a waste of money and time. Think of all the landfills full of CDs!

So, Bolton is hot and people want to read, ergo the piracy/copyright infringement.

But imagine how many people would read the Bolton book if access felt free, because they subscribed, or was $9.99 for a digital copy instead of the $16.99 it presently is.

Oh, don’t cough up that canard about “value,” look what it did for the music business, NOTHING!

The customer is king.

And despite Oprah and Reese Witherspoon books have less impact that at any time in my life. You think someone would be contemplating this, scared, thinking about the future.

But the book business?

It’s Jethro Tull 24/7, they’re living in the past.

Comments are closed