Are you tired of hearing the dealth knell for print?

books aren't going away

Last month, PricewaterhouseCoopers released their Entertainment and Media Outlook projections (no, I didn’t read it – don’t you know source-based research is considered passé with this everything wants to be free decree?). Apparently the big news is number crunchers predict e-book sales will surpass print book numbers in 2017. Seems I’ve heard this before.  Since then, everyone’s abuzz that they did so this year.

Seems if you look long enough, you can find secondary research to support whatever you’re trying to prove these days. I don’t see higher e-book sales as an indication print is dead. In fact, introducing e-book titles has increased demand for our print books. Audio has been even better on this front (at twice the price of digital offerings). There are great lessons to be learned relative to small business marketing for those who see the power of print – and all the digital derivatives.   

Primary research is my favorite discovery method. As we’ve added Kindle, Nook and other digital editions to Horse Sense and Cents® offerings, we found print book sales actually increased. It surprised us too – but people today seem to appreciate of a variety of options for delivery. Then they buy more and tell their friends.  

Is your audience bailing because of the digital age – or how you responded to it?

books aren't going awayI’ve seen many trade journals reduce their salaried or freelance staff in the last decade, replacing skilled providers with free contributor content. Why hire a graphic designer when everyone can buy the software they’re using? Why pay someone to write tight and compelling copy when you can fill twice the space with rambling prose for free? Indeed.

Of course, the digital age is being blamed for the subscriber exodus. The painful experience many are now presenting to their readers isn’t considered relevant.

Those producing content designed to answer the issues their readers are facing in a way that’s interesting, compelling and attractive to look at seem to be doing well.  

Of course, that requires delivering a quality product on a topic consumers care about – which eliminates a serious chunk of the 325K+ book titles published annually in the US alone (2010 numbers according to Wikipedia). More magazines and newspapers seem to rise and fall every day than anyone can keep track of. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn a lot from watching what these companies do wrong – or right – to develop better small business marketing strategies for you.

Is print delivery going to be gone for good?

I don’t think so. People still enjoy the comfort of holding a book and turning pages in a way that involves more physical activity than the click of screen.

If industry behemoths are failing to find an audience today, what’s a simple entrepreneur to do? They’re not all struggling. Those entrenched in old-school precepts that no longer work, though, are challenged.

Newspapers and magazines that continue to try to feature “breaking news” aren’t doing so well. Why any print publication culls primarily from wire stories for majority page fill these days is baffling. Those putting resources into local, lifestyle, health or any other topic that deals with readers’ personal issues – and even better, features them in quotes and pictures – do better.

Publishers still hanging on to the antiquated notion that returns must be a huge cost of doing business and a tiny percentage of big wins will carry all the losers are challenged too. The pull-back of virtually all marketing support – and in some cases editing and design as well – has prompted a good number of successful authors to jump ship for a bigger profit share on sales they’re generating.  Smaller niche publishers, on the other hand, who have a direct connect with their buyers and great customer service reputations – with readers and authors – are logging some interesting success stories.    

It’s not wise to ignore online delivery systems and consumer preferences. Using the internet to enhance your communications mix is a great small business marketing approach.

Want to do some brainstorming on how small businesses can jump in to capture the audiences large corporations are losing? Let’s get something going in the comments below. Also, please take a moment to spread some social love with the easy icons located to the left of this blog column post. Thanks so much for taking the time to read, comment and share!

Nanette Levin

Writer, author, marketer, public speaker and small business advocate with more than 25 years of experience. Check out some of our affordable introductory deals designed to make it fun and easy for new clients to test results with small projects.

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2 Responses to Are you tired of hearing the dealth knell for print?
  1. Amy Putkonen
    July 20, 2013 | 1:33 pm

    Hi Nanette!

    You are so wise. I have often thought that it is not ONE over the other when it comes to choosing book mediums. True, I buy less print books these days. I am trying to save valuable space in my home and cutting back on killing trees.

    But I often also purchase the audio version. I think you are so right that the key is publishing books is to expand your offerings and expand your market.

    Sometimes I purchase more than one type of media for a particular book. Sometimes an audio book is the best because I can “read” those fast as I am commuting to work. But then they might have a section that I want to keep referring back to. In this case, I would either need a Kindle version or a print book (leaning towards Kindle). Sometimes, I prefer print because it is easier to bookmark pages in a print book.

    I think that authors and publishers need to start thinking in terms of making the offerings slightly different for each medium. For example, if the book was a transcript of a lecture (like many of Byron Katie’s books are), then it would be great to have the audio because it is actually the audience members we are hearing and that is pretty cool. It is like we are there with them. If the book is a Kindle book, they should offer more online resources for people to click through and expand their purchasing power. As more authors start doing this, people will start buying both versions for the different expansions each one offers.

    This is a great article, Nanette. As always, I am always glad I stopped by. I always learn something new.
    Amy Putkonen recently posted..The Study of Humility: Part 7My Profile

  2. Nanette Levin
    July 24, 2013 | 1:14 am

    Thanks for stopping in, leaving a comment and sharing your experience, Amy. I’ve actually been surprised at how sales have played out. We did a lot of market research on one product that indicated it would be a big hit – it was a flop. Some stuff I throw out there with other end games in mind sell surprising well. You’re right – mixing it up is a good strategy these days – and not just for authors and publishers. Pretty much anyone in the service industry can expand their reach and credibility by offering and inexpensive introduction to what they have to share.

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