Saturday, September 12, 2015
Books now delivered by cyclists in some cities; do booksellers now have to compete with "It's free"?
I do get questions as to why I don’t spend time with booksellers or with retail of my product as a “commodity”. Of course, personal accounts with heavy doses of moral philosophy don’t typically become best-sellers, at least in print. As I’ve explained elsewhere, I’m quite busy with music, a screenplay, a novel, and blogging, and some travel. My work is horizontal rather than vertical. And I came into this business as a second career. I didn’t start off by “getting published’ and going on to write branded series. (Stephen King, by contrast, has sold over 350 million copies of his books in print.)
Nevertheless, as last weekend’s festival showed, a lot of the public does like “popular books” for normal entertainment or family use (not footnoted college texts).
NBC News (story by Joe Fryer) is reporting on pedaling librarians bringing “Books on Bikes” to little outdoor book festivals. The report focused on Seattle, but the idea has taken off in a few cities. Another trade name is “Spokes and Word”, story here. One pedalist was even willing to wear advertising tattoos on his arms and legs (a sacrifice).
Back in 2010, the New York Times had reported, “With Kindle, the Best Sellers Don’t Need to Sell”, link here. Same idea for Nook. More books are given away free on Kindle, and publishers disagree on whether this helps sales (by introducing new authors) or hinders them (by competing with oneself). This would be a good topic for Reid Ewing to follow up on some day, after his “It’s Free” video in 2011, centered on a public library.
There are some ideas that are popular now, that might not have been so in the past, because of social media. Some charitable efforts could make stories that sell, but writing a book is not a noble incentive itself for a charitable venture that one wouldn’t get into anyway out of the natural course of one’s own life.