On Wednesdays, Jeff Nordstedt, the Director of PTA Interactive, considers ways in which technology can bump up against books, helping authors and pulishers...
Book Mashups: 360 Book Deals?
I recently had lunch with Richard Nash, former publisher of Soft Skull Press. He recently left Soft Skull because he believes he can “more usefully participate in the future of publishing outside than inside.”
We immediately launched into a discussion of what the future of publishing might look like. As I have a secret second life as a musician, I often look to the music industry for indicators or ideas about where the book business might head. That got me thinking about the “360 Deals” that are all the rage in the music biz as a new model for book publishers.
A 360 Deal basically puts the artist and label in bed together for every revenue stream available. That means that the label not only gets a cut of album sales, they get a cut of licensing, touring, merchandising, and well, pretty much everything. The bright side of this is that is shows that the industry is changing to reflect a changed market. On the other hand, these deals have drawn considerable criticism from people who are outraged that now record labels don’t just have a hand in the artist’s pocket, they’ve got one in the back pocket, the shirt pocket, and jacket pocket too.
I understand that the economics of this kind of deal are worthy of healthy debate among artists and authors (if such a deal were available from a publisher). I’d like to save that debate for another day (or at least for the comments section). I am more interested in a publisher starting to think in more of a 360 way.
Clearly you can’t start charging for book signings, but I think there are other ways publishers can employ this kind of thinking. If a publisher has a 360 mentality then maybe they could afford to consider things like:
- Very short runs on premium hardcovers sold direct via the web
- Developing more in-house muscle for licensing not just for film and television, but outside-the-box opportunities like video games or web content
- Specific marketing efforts dedicated to selling more non-returnable digital versions of the book (ebook, audio)
- In-house speakers bureau to book paid speaking appearances for authors
- Selling webinars or teleseminars based on the book
- Brokering advertising on a website that features book content
Many authors do these sorts of things for themselves. For those authors, there is no reason to give a publisher a cut of that money. However, these sorts of opportunities go are missed by the majority of authors. Those authors would greatly benefit from a savvy publisher who could monetize many of these streams on their behalf.
I’m not proposing this as a total solution, but it is an interesting concept to discuss while working toward the new model that we all know will evolve.
Until Next Time,