When it comes to social media for authors, I’m skeptical at best. The average conversion rate for B2B companies on social media is 1.6 percent and they’re selling a solution to some kind of problem.
Authors are selling a commoditized experience, something that depends on recommendations – word-of-mouth – more than anything else.
In part, that’s what intrigues me so much about Libboo, a new company that is trying to help authors promote their work through “advocacy marketing.”
Libboo offers authors the power to reward their most passionate readers – the ones who recommend your book to their friends – and has the data analytics tools to monitor just who recommends the stuff and how they’re doing it.
It’s a bold step in the emerging world of social commerce. I recently had an email interview with Michael Boezi, Vice President of Strategy, to learn more about the solution and what Libboo hopes to achieve.
I accidentally clicked a press release the other day. This release announced an exciting new “social media system” to help independent authors create buzz for books.
A noble goal, albeit a lofty one. Dog Ear Publishing, one of the many self-publishing platforms in the indie author world, offers the service with a nice little bonus: a 32-page instructional eBook.
I don’t doubt the expertise. I don’t doubt that these guys know what they’re doing and want to help authors get established on social media.
What I do doubt is the price tag for the services: $599. Because I’m not sure there’s any proof that social media can drive (that many) book sales for independent authors.
Ebook sales have slowed down. Flattened. Softened. Whatever word you want to call it. Worldwide sales for the first quarter this year? They declined.
Over at Rough Type, Nicholas Carr speculated a little bit about why eBook sales have so abruptly become steady, rather than revolutionary.
Specifically, he brought up the iPad. I’ve thought about the indirect effect of tablet computers on eBooks, too. Especially when I saw that e-readers are dying.
Take a look at this graph and tell me what you see.
To me, it looks like a complement-to-print-books-future, not a eBooks-are-killing-print-totally future.
Amazon is waging a war against “bookstores” and “book culture.” According to a new article from Salon, anyway.
Well, if Amazon is at war, I guess I’m a soldier. Of the last three books I’ve bought, two have been through Amazon, for my smartphone.
Why? Because they’re obscure business books that I was confident I wouldn’t find in a store. And it was easy.
The one thing I can’t stand in this debate about the future of books and publishing and authors is when people seem to think of Amazon or some other Corporation as a malevolent and unstoppable force.
So let’s stop with the overblown rhetoric and examine the truth about this situation:
By now, anyone in the literary world… who reads Internet News… has learned that J.K. Rowling released a novel about four months ago under a man’s name. Robert Galbraith, to be exact.
The book, The Cuckoo’s Calling, sold a whopping 1,500 copies in four months. Meanwhile, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by contrast, sold 8.3 million copies in one day. Fifteen hundred copies means that the book sold at a clip of about 10-15 a day.
Now, of course, it’s sprung to the top of bestseller lists, because J.K. Rowling is a big, established author. But this interesting – and bold – decision of Rowling’s highlights something that’s a little scary: the “discoverability” problem for new authors.
So, recently, the federal court in New York ruled that Apple played a “central role” in fixing eBook prices with publishers. The goal was to keep the cost of an eBook at $12.99, instead of $9.99.
This has ushered in a wave of speculation about the future of both pricing and print books and eBooks. One Wired article by Marcus Wohlsen even speculates that this could be the “end of the book as we know it.”
His argument is that, without competition, Amazon is going to be free to set prices for books, especially when bookstores fade away. The publishing industry is going through the painful throes faced by the music industry years ago and it looks like Amazon is going to clamber on top.
But the thing about technology is that the top is a slippery place, and it’s important to keep in mind that Amazon’s true power lies in the fickle decisions of the consumer.
If you ask a local business about “showrooming,” they’ll either scowl or, more likely, look befuddled. The practice is booming among consumers, though, and any business owner has probably seen it: a customer walks into the store, browses the shelves, and then whips out her smartphone.
A few minutes later, she’s gone. Where’d she go? Well, she already ordered the item she saw in the store at a discount. On the Internet. Not from your store.
About half of consumers are using showrooming while they’re purchasing. The jury’s out on whether it’s really bad for retail or not-so-bad-but-probably-not-good.
However, one type of retail is suffering more than others: bookstores.