jueves, 22 de enero de 2015


Are brick and mortar retailers starting to make — or planning to make — real-time point-of-sale numbers available to publishers?

Data Guy, at Kris Rusch' blog

I don't personally understand much of the surprise around TradPub lack of data. I'd think it's been a staple of the discussion these last... 4 years? That's likely to be a good part of the push behind Data Guy's own analysis site. Also, like I commented in my PS some days ago, big corporations tend to be somehow adverse to data. Not always, no; certainly not the best ones. Still, the push is there.

Anyhow, what irks me of "Mr. Guy's" comment is... Why should retailers make their data available to publishers? I don't know about their business end, but readers haven't seen much of a save in costs in the retail price of books, have they. Not while returns got cut in half. Not while logistics improved. By being outsourced, by the way. To, er, Amazon, among others (*).

So, big publishers have outsourced their slush pile and their logistics. They never had market research or contact with pestiferous readers. Nor do they value them that much. They certainly don't want to reduce costs (ask the DoJ; keyword "collusion"). They keep claiming that the book business has very thin margins. That they can't adjust prices any lower (I'm sure those big international corporations only buy them for their prestige, sure). That proper production practices are a threat to their way of life. American, of course. Even when it's French.

So... the rules for a healthy cultural breeding ground:
  • No free books in libraries
  • No cheaper ebooks
  • No slush pile. That's what agents and contests are for
  • No logistics. That's why we have amazon
  • No sales control. That would mean actually tracking things. And maybe even... No! Gasp!
  • No paying writers. Pay bestsellers way and beyond, and use the excuse. No audits. Internal!? What!!??
  • No market studies. It could lead to the previous two.
So, no, I would not be surprised if B&M bookshops didn't make data available. Publishers have become too used, way too used, to have the rest of the industry, from writers to readers, at their whim. without giving anything back. And the rest of the industry, specially writers and readers, is a tad fed up.

Take care.

(*) Which is, again, why Amazon's refusal to do the logistics for Hachette without the bare minimum legal cover turned into such a nightmare for them. They no longer could distribute. Ooops. Or, maybe, they distributed as the always had, but the world is no longer understanding of 3-week delays.

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