My job is selling technology. Actually I'm more of a translator. I sell technology to other businesses and that's where things get weird. There is a bewildering array of tech out there and unfortunately many companies think technology sells itself and the value that the technology delivers should be obvious. Wrong. That's where I come in. I said I was a translator. My job is to translate techno babble into value that customers understand. This blog share my adventures with high tech sales. Selling high tech is fun so come join me on my sales journey!

Monday 3 June 2013

Has the Amazon Kindle goldrush passed?

Amazon's Kindle is a wonderful thing. It has truly disrupted the publishing industry. It has enabled many wannabe authors to be exactly that by lowering the cost of publishing.  The Kindle has removed the barriers to publishing enabling authors to self publish without the gate keeper of a publisher.

This has however had some unintended consequences.  Many of the ill's and evils we have seen on the Internet have found their way into publishing.   Spam books - books which are little more than spam have emerged.  Copyright theft - books repackaged and sold under different titles.The sins of the Internet have infiltrated publishing.

In the past the Internet lowered the barriers and suddenly any one could have a web page and now Kindle has enabled anyone to be an author and monetise their words.  There has been a goldrush to get onto Kindle.

One of the reasons that goldrush has happened is that Amazon has enabled it. Amazon's KDP programme allows authors to give away their books for free for 5 days per quarter.  I've succumbed to this gold-rush myself - I've written several books such as Romancing The Sale. My thought process about giving my book away for free is that it's a great way to get my book into the hands of those who don't know me. The quality of my work should speak for itself - either they will love it or hate it.  If they love it they will tell others or buy one of my other books. The reviews and feedback for my books has been positive - this encourages me to write more.

Now you may be thinking giving books away for free doesn't make good business sense. You are right.  In 2012 Amazon's KDP programme did however create lots of sales.  By giving away your book for free you shot up the chart.  It was perfectly possible to be up there with 50 Shades of Grey in the best seller list. When the free promotion ended, you didn't automatically drop back to zero, there was some legacy sales which persisted because you were top of the chart.  People paid real money for your book.  Many authors probably sold more copies that way than through any other mechanism.

Around November 2012, Amazon changed it.  Probably quite rightly.  Now when the free promotion ends the book simply exits chart. It is listed in the free chart not the sales chart. No freebie sales for authors now.

Amazon has also closed a number of other holes such as tagging.

So where does this leave all these authors?  Well the reality is they are stuck with promoting their own book. No get rich quick options.  Writing a book is easy - it's probably only 10% of the task. The remaining 90% of the task is marketing and selling the book.  Yet the throngs of authors flooding to Kindle are still coming.

The average book sells less than 100 copies in it's lifetime.  I can vouch that if you do nothing to promote your book, you will be part of this statistic. So we have a perfect storm.  A large swathe of books being published - flooding the market with content yet I suspect people are not buying more books. Classic economics. Over supply of content and static demand of attention.

Authors are usually not marketeers or sales people. So how do they promote their book? The instant reaction is to drop the price.  The author sets the price not Amazon.  That probably has created negative inflation in the Retail Price Index with book prices jumping around on the whim of authors.  It is however classic economics and conomics tells us that if there is over supply, prices will fall. We've seen examples like Life of Pi being just 10p.  A truly best selling book priced at a bargain price.

Ultimately Amazon love Kindle.  No books to stop. No warehouses. No packaging. No people putting books in boxes. No factory. No shipping costs. Yet I suspect Amazon failed to anticipate the effect they would have on the economics of selling and authoring books.

I think the gold-rush has ended yet the prospectors keep turning up.  I'm wondering if there's a shovel I can sell them....


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