A new article in Publisher’s Weekly points out yet another potential casualty of the high price of gas: author readings. Bookstore owners are concerned that crowds won’t come out to hear authors speak if the price of gas goes much higher.
Already the publishing industry has been feeling pinches over gasoline shortages. Most notably, the price of paper has shot up this year, and the cost to ship books from printer to warehouse to customer is climbing also.
Yet a solution does exist, and smart authors are using it already: technology. A whole universe of media — from podcasts and viral video to live chats, blogs and Twitter — can be used to promote books and interact with readers far and wide. It’s low-cost and easy on the environment, too.
For marketing, virtual seems like a no-brainer. But how about on the production side?
The New York Times reports that among publishers at Book Expo America a couple of weeks ago, the feeling about e-books was “unease.” Seth Godin points out that publishers are missing the forest for the trees:
“The fastest-growing, lowest cost segment of the business, the one that offers the most promise, the best possible outcome and has the best results… is causing unease!”
Sales of electronic books are rising, thanks in part to the emerging popularity of Amazon’s Kindle reader. After just 8 months on the market, Kindle sales account for 6% of Amazon’s volume in books where electronic and print versions are both available.
So are we seeing the final days of print books? Not quite yet.
Many people still say they far prefer reading a print book over an e-book. Even among kids under 17 — the one group who you think would embrace a digital book — nearly two-thirds still prefer print versions.
So what’s a publisher to do? Know your market and what they want. Be open to changing tactics where it makes sense and can save you money. And keep your eye on the oil. Maybe the decline in fossil fuels will be the tipping point that pushes reading into the digital realm.