Friday, March 02, 2007

Are You Looking Forward To That New Book By....?

No, of course you're not. Who are your favorite authors? What summer book titles are you eagerly anticipating? Can't name many, if any, can you? Now, what summer movies are you looking forward to? What tours or albums? What TV shows?

The simple fact is that the book industry simply doesn't advertise. They don't tell people when books are coming out; they rarely take out ads when books ARE out and they don't even think it matters. Sure, there are exceptions. We all know the next Harry Potter is coming out. And John Grisham and Stephen King get relatively big ad pushes. But for some reason the book industry thinks just putting a book on the shelf is enough to get people to buy it. Time and again, I'll walk into a bookstore and find out a novel by one of my favorite authors is already out. And I WORK in this industry.

Here's a classic case in point: the LA Times was rumored to be dumping its book review section. They told Publishers Weekly that wasn't happening but it MIGHT be moving to Saturday (the lowest circulation day of the week) instead of Sunday (the highest circulation day of the week). And they pleaded with book companies to support regional book review sections. According to PW, the Feb 25 edition contained only TWO book related ads: a classified ad for a ghostwriting service and a tiny Borders ad promoting a David Mamet in-store appearance.

Just like the music industry, the book industry is feeling beleaguered with flat or down sales and so many technological changes. Instead of adding value to books (by making audio versions and electronic versions available for free to anyone that buys a hardcover version), instead of embracing Google and using instant publishing to keep every title they're ever released available on-demand, they simply raise prices, virtually eliminate cheap paperbacks, refuse to advertise and then wonder why book sales are slow.

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