Book wars! Wal-Mart, Amazon slash costs
I'm proud to say that my first reaction was very professional: poo! poo! and double poo!
Wal-Mart and Amazon, in their fight to rule the world and having already killed a lot of the mom and pops, are going to bring down the rest of the smaller (by comparison) bookstore chains. Which, let's face it, is bad news for the consumer if you're looking for service-oriented bookstores with personality.
And bad news for authors, if you're looking for places to do book signings (which, although they may do very little for an author as far as selling books, they do a lot for helping to spread the word that they exist).
And bad news for small, niche publishers—because your books will never get a loss-leader designation. It will stay regular price.
And, IMHO, this is really bad news for the book buyer in the long-term. Even though those lower prices are tempting, eventually, you find yourself facing a monopoly which can jerk prices any which way they want.
How will this impact the LDS market? In the short-term, since neither Wal-Mart nor Amazon carry a full line of LDS products, and since Deseret Book and Seagull carry little, if any, national titles, life will go on as it is for awhile.
But you can expect to see people wanting lower priced LDS books—which they're not going to get due to product volumes, unless publishers lower their standards yet again and do even less editing and marketing. (Bad, bad, bad idea.)
But in the long-term, things will work out. (Yes, my middle-name is Pollyanna, but that doesn't mean I'm not right.)
See, the entire publishing industry is in the midst of re-thinking everything. To survive as a small, niche publisher, we need to move away from tried and true, and toward cutting edge.
We need to start thinking digital and POD. Lower costs, lower returns, but you get to stay in business—and a serendipitous outcome could be pressure on some publishers to raise their editing and submission standards, moving the overall quality of LDS books from mediocre to superb. (Not that there aren't superb examples of LDS fiction out there; but if you line all the 2009 fiction releases in a row, IMO, we still have a lopsided bell curve that lists to average and below.)
Continuing on about digital and POD options, one quote from that news article is:
The price cuts come at a time when Amazon.com and other sellers have been charging just $9.99 for e-books, a price that publishers worry is unrealistically low.
What?? How is $9.99 unrealistically low for an e-book?
While pre- and post-production costs (editing, typesetting, design, marketing) remain the same for any book, the actual production cost for an e-book is almost nil.
If you connect your e-book to Print-On-Demand services, smaller publishers can produce books for much less of an upfront investment. Their net profits are less, of course, but so are the risks. A small publisher can make quality books available in both electronic and print forms at a reasonable price.
However, they still won't be able to compete with Wal-Mart and Amazon's loss-leader pricing strategies. With this being the case, it's even more important that LDS fiction is QUALITY fiction—and worth the price.
So what do you think?
P.S. I have an idea. And a business plan. But I don't have any money. Anybody interested?