Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Are Amazon going to be Riding the Bullet?

Newspapers and magazines have always provided publishers with opportunities to get their titles reviewed or serialised and into the public eye. Serialisation once offered direct and often high supplementary income. However today we read in today’s NY Times that this is now potentially shifting in the US market. There will always be that conflict where the newpaper wants to tell it all versus the publisher who wants to lead you to the book. As revenues change then this issue gets more defined.

At the same time we read in the National Examiner that the next Stephen King thriller "The Gingerbread Girl," a 21,000 word work, will be published in its entirely in the July issue of Esquire. What does Esquire and Stephen King know that others don’t? Mr. King made history with his serialisation of ‘Riding the Bullit’ in the late ‘90s when he released it by instalments as digital downloads. Today it is amazing that others have not followed his lead, or should one say the Dicken’s model and published digitally by instalment. Some have done so with new authors by why not with established ones? Can you imagine the explosions that would have happened if JKR had published the latest Potter this way? Both the digitisation market and potentially pod market would have moved on with a leap and the tills would have been ringing and the hardcopy would have still been in-demand at the end but at a maybe at a better price.

So while the jury is out on the Latest King foray into men’s top shelf magazines there remains the issue of the serialisation and reviews in newsprint.

A well-chosen slice of a book in the appropriate magazine can jump start a publicity campaign. According to the chosen journal, it can add weight and importance, create noise or appeal to a certain demographic. Today’s weekend paper’s are weighed down with pages upon pages of reviews and serials but do they shift units in the market or act as secondary sales opportunities for the papers themselves to drop ship to the consumer who in reality ‘never leaves the page’. Are the self serving the newsprint and in fact stealing the larger market?

The questions raised in the NY Times cover the science of too much versus too little or just right reviews. This is always a subjective issue. The more that is written, the less the need to read the title, but the less that is written or relevant, the less the draw to the title.

It is interesting that Amazon is quoted as expressing an interest in first serialisations. An obvious step for Amazon and one to watch!