Given the recent conflict between Amazon and Hachette, I have made a realization regarding the future of traditional publishing. I am posting this as an open letter to share the idea, since it is one I think would be vastly successful.
To Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster:
You have been searching for a way to keep competitive in a world full of e-readers and declining big box retailers. You have been searching for a way to confront Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million with greater authority. I present you with a solution.
Sell your books directly to the masses.
Some of you do this already, but you don’t make large strides toward making these sales easy to the passive visitor to your site. When you do sell, you sell for MSRP, not for a price based on what you would sell to a bookstore or to a website. This is where everyone taking advantage of you.
If you’re willing to sell a book to Amazon for one price, why can’t you use that same price to sell to a bookstore? Better yet, why aren’t you making that price available directly to the reader? Doing this would make your titles look more appealing to customers and it would give you a stronger position to negotiate from when dealing with retail outlets.
I understand that the books being sold to stores and retailers are bulk orders, which traditionally enjoy a bulk discount. By making the playing field level regardless of amount of books purchased, you will create the image that the individual reader matters. As nice as large orders are, it’s the little sales adding up that create long-term success.
You can still offer discounts, incentives, anything that drives attention to your books. So long as certain retailers are using precedent to determine how you do business, they will always control you. When it comes to a single copy of a book, make no difference between a website, a retailer, and a five-year-old kid. You’ll thank me later, I just know it.