Episode 84 – BookPerk, Co-Writing, and the Post-Content Era

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Question of the Week:

What value do you think Amazon is getting out of its latest retail venture? Would you want one in your city? Why or why not?

Councilman Elect Jim Kukral and Marshmallow Elect Bryan Cohen reunited for the latest episode of the show. After re-featuring Patron Susan Illene and her book Stalked by Flames ( http://amzn.to/1Q80kFr ), the determined duo took on tips about promoting sequels, co-writing, and using video marketing. News stories focused on the passing of a self-publishing godfather, HarperCollins’ acquisition of The Midlist, Amazon’s purge of books using certain keywords, opinions on Amazon Books, and whether or not we’re living in the “post-content era.” This week’s Question of the Week: What value do you think Amazon is getting out of its latest retail venture? Would you want one in your city? Why or why not?
What You’ll Learn:
  • How Jim fared with his city council election
  • What you should do to publicize your sequel
  • How Joanna Penn and J. Thorn co-wrote a book
  • Five ways to incorporate video into your marketing
  • How Dan Poytner impacted the evolution of self-publishing
  • Why HarperCollins acquired The Midlist
  • The reasoning behind Amazon’s purge of thousands of books
  • What customers and bookseller think about Amazon Books
  • Why Jim thinks content is still king
Question of the Week:
What value do you think Amazon is getting out of its latest retail venture? Would you want one in your city? Why or why not?

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  • Amazon has already claimed online retail domination. Now they’re dipping their toes into the physical realm. Just another step to their goal of global dominion over all of mankind…hmm, I think there’s a great dysotopian story in there somewhere. 😛

    As far as wanting one in my city or not? Given I’m in Atlanta, something tells me I may not have much of a choice.

    • Bryan

      Haha, you probably don’t.

  • I’m excited that Amazon’s first book store is here in Seattle. I really enjoyed my visit, and my kids keep asking when we can go back. They have Kindle devices all over the place, and that was a big draw for the kids. I enjoyed seeing the star ratings and reviews by the books. Of course, it’s just one review, and a 5-star one, but it’s a different way to stop offline.

    Several employees told us Amazon wants to mimic the online experience in a store setting. They’ve certainly come closer than any other store I’ve been in. It’s a different *experience* and if you’re going in expecting another bookstore, you’ll be disappointed:
    -No prices marked (but easily remedied with price scanners; no you don’t HAVE to ask an employee to scan an item if you don’t have the app.) Seriously, it’s not a big deal. I don’t get all the whining over that.
    -They don’t accept cash, but if you don’t have a credit card you can still use Amazon gift cards. Just like online.
    -(Almost) no spines facing out. I like that aspect a lot.

    It’s a fun store and I think some people just like to hate on Amazon. I doubt their store is going to squash indie stores. It’s not the same. People who would shop at Amazon online will go into the store to get what they want without waiting for it to be delivered. People who want the indie store experience will continue to shop there.

    If anyone wants to see the pictures I took, they’re here: http://stacyclaflin.com/2015/11/05/so-i-went-to-amazon-books/

    • Bryan

      Thanks for sharing the pics, Stacy! Maybe you’re onto something with your kids really wanting to go back…

      Amazon for the next generation!

  • I don’t really care one way or the other about whether they open a store up my way or not. I’ve been in an Apple store all of maybe 3 or 4 times, and I’d probably go in the Amazon store if it was conveniently located, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to shop there. Of course, I rarely go out of my way to shop anywhere…

    And regarding your cell phone bill, you pay too much, Jim. My cell bill is generally about $23 each month for my wife and I, which includes unlimited voice and text (data is metered but we’re only charged what we use – well, technically, we pay about 40 dollars but $16-$18 gets refunded each month for data we didn’t use the month before.)

    • What carrier do you use?

      • Republic Wireless. They piggyback off of the Sprint network, though they are testing in the labs right now (or soon, not sure if it’s started yet) having multiple carrier phones available.

        • Bryan

          Thanks for the tip, Blaine. My wife and I pay too much for Verizon (more than Jim for just the two of us), but we have great service almost everywhere. It’s a convenience thing.

          • My limit for 2 cell phones was about $60/month, which before I got Republic Wireless was flip phones with limited voice minutes in our local area and free incoming texts (but not outgoing) and no data which we only got because we got onto US Cellular when they entered the market. So, paying 2/3 of that to upgrade to our first smart phones seemed like a good plan, and now we’re on better smartphones at 1/3 of that original price.

          • Bryan


  • Patrick Stemp

    I’m sure what Amazon is getting out of their retail venture right now is simply data.
    I’d love to have one in my city – IF they avoid stocking their shelves with all of the pillows and purses and robes and jewelry and other crap that the other retailer in Canada has given probably 40% of their book space to. And if they hire employees who actually know a thing or two about books. And you can find one when you need one. Screw it, I’ll probably just shop online anyway.

    • Bryan

      Great point. It’s a data mine all the way.

  • Garrett Robinson mentioned something that books are missing that other mediums have: the live experience. Movies charge more in the theatre, for instance. Music has concerts. A physical bookstore could potentially create some kind of live experience for books.

    I’m not sure what exactly it would be, as readings and signings tend not to be as exciting as a concert (other than when Harry Potter was coming out). But if anyone is going to come up with a way to get customers excited, it’ll be Amazon.

    • Bryan

      Amazon events!

  • If they crack the code on how to keep a physical bookstore afloat, then awesome. I love browsing actual books.

    • I won’t feel guilty when I turn around and buy the kindle version, this way.
    • it’s in an affluent area, near Banana Republic and Pottery Barn
    • people buy gifts a the last minute, so even Amazon Now doesn’t work for that
    • kids want to hold a book before buying it. It’ll take time before they browse online with any great joy
    • why don’t they have coffee in there? 😉

    • Bryan

      Amazon coffee!

  • It’s funny that I saw people worrying about how to get their books in the physical Amazon bookstore, like that’s going to help them sell a lot of books. Sell a lot of books and maybe your book will show up there.

    Neither a bookstore or a library will help you sell a lot of books, but it can sure be a good sign if your book shows up there.

    • Bryan

      That IS funny :). Most authors could stand to widen their scope a bit.

  • Amazon is often blamed for draining the life from our high streets but here, they’re making a significant investment in a bricks and mortar outlet. If an Amazon store reinvigorates a shopping district or a town centre then what’s not to like? If Amazon can pull this off as a great retail experience, then what Amazon gains is an increase in their prestige as a brand. Online, Amazon is in danger of becoming utilitarian – a place where we buy mundane and unglamorous things like DIY supplies and cat litter. But a really good bookshop is something we associate with a set of high value emotions. Bookshops remind us of childhood picture books, favourite titles, much-loved authors. I’m sure Amazon would rather be thought of as Harrods rather than Walmart.

    • Bryan

      Good points, Mikey!

  • Jason Fuhrman

    I’m not sure why Jim was having any issue getting a “buy” button on his Amazon sample. I tried the same book and here is a screenshot:

    And to answer your question about Amazon needing to pay royalties to Google or Apple, that isn’t the case. When you purchase a book through the app it essentially opens up a browser inside the app, which the purchases go through so Amazon doesn’t have to pay a royalty as if it were an in-app purchase.

    • Bryan

      Thanks for sharing the pic, Jason. I figured there was something like that attached to every sample. And good point on the app opening a browser.