Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Death of Reading is Greatly Exaggerated

By Martha Reed

I’ve been doing a lot of market research lately trying to gaze into the great crystal ball and foresee the future of publishing: what will the winning media be? E-Books? Digital Print on Demand? Trade paperbacks? Twitter? Everyone seems to be overlooking a key element: the quality of the writing. If the medium is the message and the message sells, does it really matter how the message is delivered? Of course, there are human jobs on the line but that’s happened with every technological advance since we harnessed fire.

I got a little depressed with all the doom and gloom and wailing over lost readership and then I read a hopeful article by Jim Fiscus for ESPN The Magazine. His point is so well made I’m going to reproduce it here: Even though he’s discussing writing for magazines, I think he makes the case for overall readership as well. Enjoy!

We surf the Internet.
We swim in magazines.

The Internet is exhilarating. Magazines are enveloping. The Internet grabs you. Magazines embrace you. The Internet is impulsive. Magazines are immersive. And both media are growing.

Barely noticed amidst the thunderous Internet clamor is the simple fact that magazine readership has risen over the past five years. Even in the age of the Internet, even among the groups one would assume are more singularly hooked on digital media, the appeal of magazines is growing.

Think of it this way: during the 12-year life of Google, magazine readership actually increased 11 percent.

What is proves, once again, is that a new medium doesn’t necessarily displace an existing one. Just as movies didn’t kill radio. Just at TV didn’t kill movies. An established medium can continue to flourish so long as it continues to offer a unique experience. (Italics, mine.) And, as reader loyalty and growth demonstrate, magazines do.

Which is why people aren’t giving up swimming, just because they also enjoy surfing.

-       Jim Fiscus for ESPN The Magazine

Which made me wonder: what is the unique experience I offer my readers? With that thought in mind, I’m going back now to finish my manuscript!


Laurissa said...

Thanks for drawing our attention to Jim Fiscus' article. I didn't know magazine subscriptions have increased. That's surprising to me, but good news.

Jennie Bentley said...

Very nice!

Martha Reed said...

I still love Nancy Martin's comment: A rising tide raises all boats. How's that for optimism?!

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Nice Martha. I don't think the message will die, but we will have a wealth of new messengers to choose from. And some of those will pose challenges for authors, especially new authors.

As digital publishing grows, and no doubt it will, the newby author is going to have to adjust to get name recognition. You can't sign a Kindle, nobody is going to come see me speak so he can download my book to his Nook. Let's face it, the whole personal appearance thing will change.

Eventually somebody will figure out THAT FORMAT! The format that will click and push the digital book over the edge. Just like the iPod did for music.

I can't tell you the last time I purchased an audio compact disc, and it's been at least 30 years since I bought a vinyl record. Now it's happening to movies, direct download business is on the uptick.

Newspapers are having a rough go as well.

Our business will change. Will it be for the good? Dunno. But I do know it will be different and as authors we will need to adjust.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't find your contact email, hence the comment.

At this time, we are sending out a copy of a new contemporary women's fiction/suspense novel, Revenge Served Cold, to bloggers for review. This light murder mystery by author Jackie Fullerton is an easy read with a very likeable protagonist.

Kathy Spence awakens in the middle of the night and finds herself in a living nightmare. Her husband has been run down and she is the primary suspect. Terrified for her future, Kathy turns to amateur sleuth Anne Marshall for help. Anne, with the help of her dearly departed father's ghost, uncovers proof of a conspiracy that reaches from Kathy's past and threatens her own life.

The link for Revenge Served Cold on Amazon is: http://www.amazon.com/Revenge-Served-Cold-Jackie-Fullerton/dp/0984381503/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271713849&sr=8-1

I'd love to send you a copy of the book for you to review on your blog. The author is also available for an author interview.

Thank you for considering the idea.
I look forward to hearing from you.



Joyce said...

I was going to delete the previous comment, but I decided to leave it up and comment on it.

This is a perfect example of what NOT to do when you're trying to market a book. If you hire a publicist (which I assume this person is), make damn sure they don't spam peoples' blogs with your book ads.

The correct way would be to visit blogs well before your book comes out. "Make friends" with the bloggers. Comment on their posts, etc. Ask to guest blog to talk about your book.

Maybe the author is a lovely person and a good writer, but this blatant promotion killed it for me. I can guarantee this is one book I WON'T be buying.

MaryQ said...

I still like print media. Maybe I'm a dinosaur, but I love the way a new books smells & feels before you open it. And walking into a bookstore is still thrilling.
Joyce - that ad post just seemed so rude & impersonal. I'm not sure why the publicist would think that would be an effective way to get attention for the book.

M Pax said...

What a lovely, hope-filled article. Thank you! :)

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Funny thing is, I went to the website of the spammer. This is what Cadence does for marketing:

National Marketing

Blog Tour (30 hours)
National Marketing

Blog Tour (30 hours)
Blog Tour and online publicity and book reviews (60 hours)
Amazon page set-up (4 hours)
Amazon Author page set-up, Amazon key word and tag optimization, and Amazon lists and bestseller links (15 hours)
Top 500 Amazon reviewers researched and approached for reviews (30 hours)
Internet and online bookstore data uploads (6 hours)
50+ Top book industry print reviewers approached (PW, Library Journal, Midwest Book Review, NY Times, Chicago Sun Times, Shelf-Awareness, etc.) (25 hours + cost of materials and postage)
Press release sent to national, industry and regional outlets (4 hours)
National author tour (hours quoted at outset of campaign)
Book mailing follow-up (hours and postage quoted at outset of campaign)
Press launch (hours quoted at outset of campaign)

I guess this is part of the 60 hours the poor author paid for to:

Blog Tour and online publicity and book reviews (60 hours)

Joyce said...

I did a little research, too. She's a self-published author. Thomas House Publishing is owned by the author, and it looks like hers is the "company's" only book.

Patg said...

Interesting, shocking that magazine subscriptions are up, but maybe people are getting tired of the Internet. Who knows?
As far as signings is concerned for eBooks, the most interesting idea I heard was from Sharon Wildwind. Make up one of those little booklets you find on goodie tables offering the first chapter of your book. Sit at the signing table with your poster (most eBook publishers provide you with one) and offer a signed copy of the booklet to those who have downloaded your book. Most people come over with their reader to prove they've bought it, but sometimes a 'good' talker is worth giving one to as well.
That SPAM is probably her idea of a virtual book tour. Ridiculous.
And if this is a publicist's idea of publicity, then fire the SOB.