I love this idea of “subscription publishing”. Beyond the fantastic economic plusses (ie impact to cash, scaled print runs, etc.) it seems a great way to build buzz and get people looking forward to a body of work, not just once, but again and again. Small indie publisher Featherproof Books (publisher of local Birmingham author Susannah Felts) is trying such a model, with the launch of a new imprint Paper Egg Books.According to Publishers Weekly:
All print runs will be determined by the number of subscribers who sign up for the program; they will pay $20 per year to receive two books — either a novella, flash-fiction or short story collection — one in the fall, the other in the spring.
You don’t have to look far to find someone crying “print is dead”. But it’s not. It’s just going through a very long overdue (and stressful) evolution. Or maybe de-evolution? It seems that most of Charles Dickens work was serialized “back in the day” and it worked out well for him. Last year, Penguin released The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters in serial form first and built quite a following in Britain. Though it didn’t work out so well here in the States.So best of luck to the crew at Featherproof, we’re all watching!
Orbit Books is offering one e-book for $1 for one month, through April. They even set up a special promotional site. One thing I found interesting is that they are not serving up the downloads themselves. They have tapped into the myriad of online distributors of digital book files.
I think this is great promo Orbit is running. And I’m sure more publishers will follow suit. I just wonder how long it will be pefore publishers bite the bullet and invest in their own site infrastructure so they can serve up all these file formats themselves… fewer clicks is a good thing, for the customer and for the distribution fees.
Tor seems to be doing this very well.
JPG Magazine broke out with a bold content generation plan a couple of years ago: bring a “photo enthusiast” print magazine, they would scour the internet for the best of the best non-professional images and reprint them in their pages. It’s always been a fun magazine to flip through. As innovative as this approach was, their business model was not so much, as they relied on ad sales to support the printed product.
In my opinion they made a VERY good run at it and I am sad that they are closing up shop. You can get the full run-down from their blog. At a minimum, they are one great case-study for publishers everywhere trying to divine the future of print media. I just wish Laura and crew could have made it.
I attended my third O’Reilly webinar today. Titled What Publishers Need to Know About Digitization, it was led by the very savvy Liza Daly. They said they’re working to get the session’s recording up on the site, so it should be up there soon. This was, by far, the best webcast I have attended. Though the one on Why Publishers Should Care about SEO was ok too. I do wish Daly and crew had spent a little less time with the 101 intro stuff (how to scan something) and a little more on the monetization part that they flew through. In fact, I’m still unclear on where any of the monetization is coming from in any of Daly’s 3 examples. I’ll have to go back and look. The next webcast is Twitter for Business, in case you’re interested.
But today was really just another session of 100+ people asking questions (and getting the answered!), that showed just how many cool tools publishers have at their disposal. They just have to be creative. I know that the holiday season is predicted to be a slow one for books, but after today’s session I can see the potential and though things may change a little and new formats, distribution channels may emerge, I really think that books and publishing are going to be just fine.
Much to the dismay of Jeff Gomez, whose book I plan on reviewing later this week.