Round up #254: the return of Time-Life Books, does any other business like Amazon?
The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later
Is Amazon punishing you?
In the new e-book world, you might think traditional publishers are in trouble. Actually, though, they can survive. Once they figure out how to sell books D2R (Direct To Readers), bypassing retailers like Amazon, it will be a whole different ball game.
Another group which does have a real threat hanging over them?
An agent, just simplifying things, represents the author to the publisher.
They find a publisher and negotiate the deal.
Independent publishing, where an authors publish books themselves, clearly cuts them out.
Amazon, through its Kindle Direct Publishing, is one of the great independent publishing enablers…perhaps the most important one to date.
If tradpubs become more risk adverse, which is certainly possible, every tradpubbed book arranged by an agent is going to become more valuable.
Tradpubs will, I think, increasingly try to buy indie books which are already selling pretty well…again, potentially reducing the need for an agent to act as the discovery engine.
Right now, tradpubs trust certain agents…if they bring them a book, that gives the author a lot more negotiating power.
So, I found this
It purports to reproduce a letter from Gail Hochman, the President of the Association of Authors’ Representatives, to Amazon.
The language is…well, blunt is too soft a word.
Hochman uses the term “brutal” and draws an analogy (without specifically saying that Amazon is doing these actions) to hostage-taking.
That is a gamble…and suggests that they are feeling uncertain. People take the biggest risks when all of the options look bad.
And what about brick-and-mortars?
I thought this was a great
It’s called, “Physical Retailers Still Have No Answer for Amazon”, and it makes excellent points (mentioning Barnes & Noble, by the way).
For a long time, brick-and-mortars (I used to manage a brick-and-mortar bookstore) were in such a fortified position in the retail segment, that it was as if they were sitting in a castle at the top of the hill.
You know what the difference is between the people in the castle, and the people who want to take over that hill?
The castle-dwellers are good with the status quo. They don’t have to plan…if things stay the same, that’s good for them. For them, change is bad.
For the people outside (Amazon in this story), they have to change things…they have to plan out something that affects the current circumstances.
Then, the castle people might react when they see what is happening…maybe. People are risk adverse: they’d have to be very sure that changing what they have is worth it before they would try anything.
I particularly liked this line:
“…Jeff Bezos has tunneled an unparalleled trajectory of unadulterated greatness at Amazon.”
Time-Life Books returns
I don’t think I’ve told these stories on the blog…stop me if I have. Oh yeah…you can’t. 😉 Actually, I know I sometimes tell the same stories…that’s a habit I have as a trainer. My feeling is that most people don’t remember that you told it before, and if they do, well…it can be like re-reading a favorite book. 🙂
Anyway, many years ago, I worked for Time-Life Books in San Francisco.
Yep…it was a “boiler room” sales situation. A bunch of people cold calling homes to sell them the Time-Life Books series.
You might remember those…Knight of the Air, for example, about World War I fighter pilots. You could examine a book for ten (?) days, and send it back if you didn’t like it.
I started out as a salesperson: everybody did. I wasn’t great at that, and quickly I was moved into being a “verifier”.
I was the good person. 🙂
I would call somebody who ordered the book the next day, and see if they really wanted it.
Lots of people didn’t.
Where I worked, they pretty much would hire anybody who could sign their names and let them try to sell books.
We had people who had plastic grocery bags for shoes, for example…although those folks could be quite erudite and literary, even without homes.
Some salespeople would lie and write up a sale (we would catch them), and some…well, there were some interesting stories.
I always remember calling someone who had ordered the series on animals…a book on monkeys, one on lions, one on tigers…that sort of thing.
The purchaser seemed enthusiastic enough on the phone. Then, the customer said, “I’m going to have to stop after the monkey: I only have a small apartment.”
Me: “The books aren’t that big.”
Customer: “What books?”
This customer (and this was not the salesperson’s fault) thought we were sending them the actual animals! Yes, we’ll send you a monkey to try for fourteen days, and then if you keep the monkey, we’ll send you a bear…then a lion…then a…
I guess we should have realized that you need at least a two-bedroom condo to make that practical. 😉
Then, there was the time that one of our best sales people (very honest, very nice…that’s how the best ones tended to be) had sold somebody a series.
I call the next day, and as always, identify myself.
The voice on the other end says, “What time was that?”
I explain the time, and the voice says, “This is the Sheriff. I need to talk to your salesperson.”
It turned out the house was robbed…and the burglar answered the phone!
Not only answered the phone…but stayed on long enough to have the conversation…and to say “yes” to the books!
The owner of the house was in Europe…the salesperson had to describe the voice.
Anyway, according to this
the brand is returning…but not as series of books, just individual titles.
Oh, and not digitally…physical books to be sold in stores.
Looks like it might be only brick-and-mortar stores.
I could see them working in places like Costco, but this does seem like an…interesting business plan.
Children’s Book Week: Writers on Writers
Here’s a fun
from Open Road Media.
Just as you would expect…writers tend to be readers, too.
What do you think? Do any other businesses like Amazon? Do you remember Time-Life Books? Did you ever buy an encyclopedia…one volume at a time? Did you ever work on the phone? Can you be a good writer without being a reader? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help!
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.