Friday, November 6, 2009

Competing in the new world.

So, things are changing. Ebooks are getting bigger and bookstores are dying. Authors are more and more thinking about selling directly to consumers and with this new ease of publishing, there are more and more books on the virtual shelves.

As an author this can be scary because how will you stand out? As a reader it can be scary because how will you know if a book is decent? I mean we can bitch about NY and gatekeepers, yada yada but those gatekeepers do give us some baseline of quality. But in a new digital age, that just may not exist....What will we do then? (Which isn't to say a self-published book today can't be good, just that without a third party vetting system it is harder predict if a book will be good, or at least hit some level of quality.)

There will still be recommendations from other people, but as an author hoping to build a career on face to face word of mouth is well, crazy. You have to be able to reach bigger numbers at one time. How will we do that? As a reader what would you respond to?

One possibility is social networking. The idea being that if you can get a book talked up on Goodreads or Facebook it will be word of mouth on steroids. What do you think? Would you buy a book based on the rec of a "friend" you don't personally know?

Another is reviewers actually growing in selling power. How many of you think you would start to trust reviews more than you do now when looking for a new read if faced with thousands of books and authors you had never heard of?

A third, and one that has worked in music, is sampling. With music they can let you listen to an entire song for free because you will still buy it and listen to it over and over. With books we can't do that. You read the book, chances are you aren't going to be paying to read it again. But you might pay to read a book if you only read say a third of it, or if you read something else by that author like a short story or an older book.

What else? What methods do you think you will or would use to sift the good from the not so good in the new world of digital publishing? (when the days of wandering down an aisle and holding that book in your hands is in your past) Or are you going to simply trust the "if you liked this you might like this" recs of the booksellers?


Blodeuedd said...

Before I usually just browsed the bookstore, and sometimes bought a book that couldn't be found there. Now when I am a reviewer I read a lot more reviews and tries to look at many for a certain book to see what they think. And what they usually like, and oh how many I have found this way.
Not to mention just going for it now and again too

Ashley Ladd said...

I've started to read plenty of books published by the big boy publishers that I couldn't finish. And I've read lots of ebooks I loved.

That said, word of mouth and reviews are helpful.