Episode 126 – Amazon India, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Kindle Reading Fund

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Question of the Week: What would you do to turn around the fortunes at Barnes & Noble? Do you think any of Mike Shatzkin’s ideas would help the company recover?

The heat is on with this late summer episode of The Sell More Books Show. Jim and Bryan discussed tips on Smashwords Alerts, book bundles, and permafree books. After thanking their latest patron Barb Drozdowich (and her book Blogging for Authors http://bit.ly/authblogbd ), they dissected news on Penguin’s subscription aversion, the Kindle Reading Fund, Shatzkin’s ideas to right the Nook ship, Google’s mobile site penalties, the opening of the Arthur C. Clarke Award to indies, and Amazon’s gains in India over Flipkart. This week’s Question of the Week: What would you do to turn around the fortunes at Barnes & Noble? Do you think any of Mike Shatzkin’s ideas would help the company recover?
What You’ll Learn:
  • How readers can keep up-to-date on Smashwords
  • How authors can increase readership with book bundles
  • How permafree books can grow readers and a brand over time
  • Why Penguin Random House refuses to consider subscription models
  • How authors can help readers in developing countries
  • What one industry professional thinks Barnes & Noble should try next
  • How advertisements will affect author websites’ search ranking
  • Why self-publishers should think long and hard about applying for the UK’s premier sci-fi award
  • What gains Amazon has made in India’s online market
Links:
Question of the Week: What would you do to turn around the fortunes at Barnes & Noble? Do you think any of Mike Shatzkin’s ideas would help the company recover?

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  • David A King

    Maybe Barnes and Noble should reopen Nook stores around the world, there are plenty of ebook readers outside of the USA. Also I like what you guys said about subscription models. If B&N could do a Kindle Select type of thing on Nook, that could be successful. Charge a monthly fee and people get access to books for no further charge, limited to a certain number perhaps.
    Or a monthly fee that gives people other benefits on Nook or with discounts on printed books.

    • Bryan

      I like the idea, David, but I think they probably couldn’t go exclusive like KDP. They definitely wouldn’t get many takers. Thanks for the comment!

  • I think Barnes and Noble SHOULD open up tiny book corners, stands, or ‘nooks’ within other stores (like Best Buy or Target), food court areas, malls, airports. In addition to that, revamping their stores to be smaller seems smart, but they should partner with a chain restaurant and coffee place to make a destination. No one’s going to the B&N restaurant.

    If they do end up with little kiosks in bigger stores, they could also do the reverse and put little Best Buy or Target electronics sections in their own book stores. Let the nook book live on via the apps on phones and tablets. Better yet, partner up with Google (like Jim said) and have a Google mini-store/dept selling phones and tablets with the nook/google ebook apps.

    • Bryan

      I like the idea of little Kiosks in other big box stores.

  • As to your discussion about repeating things that have been working forever. Keep reporting it. It’s good to know it works or no longer works, plus you have new authors coming in all the time, and they need to know.

    • Bryan

      Ok, Roland. We’ll do that. Thanks!

  • Spider McGee

    If Barnes and Noble can’t take Jim’s suggestions, they don’t deserve to stay in business.

    • Bryan

      You tell ‘em, Spider!

  • Spider McGee

    Also, India. I don’t know much about no India, ‘cept that they still use manual typewriters there a lot ’cause electricity there can be so unreliable and such. As a typewriter enthusiast/obsessive, I can appreciate this. I would hope that my Kindle books sell well there, since they embrace those Bollywood movies that make absolutely no sense. Also, they ride on top of trains, just like in Mexico. Can we send back M. “Night Moves” Shyamalan until he comes up with a good movie again? We’ve given the guy like 15 chances already.

    What? He’s from Philly? Same dif.

    Your Pal,
    Spider McGee

    • Bryan

      He IS from Philly. I still haven’t seen Lady in the Water though. He’s run out of chances from me!

  • Crissy Moss

    There’s a really awesome book store near here. It’s called Third Place Books. It’s in a small shopping center on the second floor. It covers the entire west half of the second floor, and on the east half there is a stage, food court, and several small shops. The book store itself buys and sells used books (mostly antique and specialty books) as well as thousands of brand new books. Every time I’ve been there the shop has been FULL of people. Browsing books, reading, buying books, eating at the food court, or any number of other things available in the shopping center.

    One of my favorite things about Third Place is that there are tables set aside with specially curated books. I’ve seen a table with just dragon stories, big foot stories, stories that took place in seattle, or some sort of video game inspired book. Hand chosen by the sellers, and much more likely to get me to read one.

    Barns and Nobel has only their own books, generally the ones that book sellers have paid them to put there. And they have starbucks, which I can also get at my local grocery store, and anywhere else. There isn’t anything special about B&N. No personal curation. No thought put into the layout. It’s just a big box store, just like walmart. And I HATE walmart.

    • Bryan

      Thanks for the comment, Crissy. That place sounds awesome. We’ve got some used bookstores in Chicago, but that places just sounds set up the right way.

      • Crissy Moss

        It really is. Plus they are open to indie authors doing readings too!

    • Lindsay Buroker

      Heh, is that the one in Lake Forest Park? I grew up in Edmonds. 😀

      • Crissy Moss

        Yes! I love just a few miles away.

  • I think that the reason Napster did so well wasn’t because it was as easy as it was to buy music at the time. It did so well because it was _easier_ than buying the music. You could get the specific song or two you wanted and didn’t have to pay for the 10 songs you didn’t want. As the current marketplace has shown, people _would_ have paid for their music through Napster if they had been able to…but because it was so much more difficult to buy the music than it was to just download it, they didn’t bother.

    I don’t think that an easier to share ebook marketplace is going to kill the market. I think that the majority of people would still buy the books given an option as long as it is relatively painless and (as Jim said) the books are being sold with pricing in line with how much the consumer values things, rather than how much the author or publisher values them.

    • Bryan

      Yeah, simplicity is key. I agree though, I don’t think it would kill the market either.

  • Lindsay Buroker

    Thanks for talking up our show, Bryan! 🙂

    • Bryan

      You’re very welcome :).

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  • Laura Martone

    I wish I had something useful to add to this conversation, but alas, I’ve never been very good at business or fortune-telling. Just ask Dan. 😉 Although I would love to see a company viably compete with Amazon, I just don’t believe that, even with restaurants and better curation, a big-box store chain like B&N will ultimately survive. Sad, but probably true. As for subscriptions, I do believe that they can be a profitable idea – such as KU – but I think it’s a much tougher model for a single author – or even collaborators like the SPP guys. In fact, they tried something like this before – Dan and I subscribed early on – but they couldn’t keep it going. Although you’d have to ask them for the details (of what worked and what didn’t work), I would guess that, even given their commendable productivity, they couldn’t produce enough each month to satisfy subscribers. Now, perhaps a larger stable of like-minded authors could try it… Hmmm. There’s a thought.

    • Bryan

      See, that last thought seems fortune-teller-y :).