The Book Publishing Game
In Answer to Paul Wilbur ... You've Got to Beat the Bushes
As a book person, Paul Wilbur will very likely hear about the first three categories of 354 titles in the chart above—those books that sell enough copies to give the publisher a decent return on an investment in promotion, publicity and advertising.
With regard to the other 199,600 new titles published each year:
Authors have to beat the bushes to find a publisher (or pony up some money and be a self-publisher).
Publishers and authors have to beat the bushes to find readers.
Readers have to beat the bushes to find books they are interested in.
In short, book publishing is tough on everybody.
Takeaway Points to Consider
- One of the most valuable assets of a business is the customer list.
- Without customers, a business does not exist.
- Book clubs and book continuity series have customer lists and repeat sales, but for the general book publisher, each new title is a new product in search of a market—the equivalent of a start-up—making it a very dangerous business.
- Beware of any business model that is not easily able to offer additional product to existing customers. For example, Peggy and I own a 1999 Saab. With just 50,000 miles on it, hopefully this will be our last car. F.C. Kerbeck, the dealer from whom we bought it, should not expect us as a car customer again. But Kerbeck makes plenty of money off us on maintenance, repairs and replacement parts (e.g., tires, filters, etc.) because the service department is superb.