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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In the news, "Untitled," by Anonymous, was described as a 320-page, nonfiction, hardcover book with photos that will retail at $26.99.

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/43930180/ns/today-books/t/mystery-book-untitled-shakes-publishing-world/?GT1=43001

"Bookstores have been left guessing this way before. In January Simon & Schuster released "O," an anonymously written novel that the publisher promised was by someone who had been 'in the room with Barack Obama.' (Many store owners fumed when the book didn't sell and they were forced to deal with the hassle of returning unsold copies.) ...Gayle Shanks, an owner of Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Ariz., said she reluctantly ordered 10 copies of the book after receiving the publisher's e-mail. 'The note I sent back to my sales reps was, 'I hate these books,' ' Ms. Shanks said. "Generally we don't know what they are, so we have no sense of how large it's going to be. But you cannot not buy it.' "

Is it just me, or are legacy publishers relying more and more on gimmicky "blockbuster" books like this? (Even if the blockbusters often tank.) I remember a tourist store I visited once that had presents wrapped in brown paper. IT was a mystery toy; you had to buy it sight-unseen. It was fun... once. Of course, as soon as you opened it, you realized that, on the whole, you would have been better picking out your own toy, one you'd be sure to like. It seems something like this is doomed to go the same way. Even the THIS book turns out to not be a huge disappointment after the hype, this is a one-trick pony promotion technique.

Or maybe not. Maybe from now one, big publishers will simply promise bookstores to only publish books by famous people, so the quality of the books will not matter compared to the television, movie or political cache of the "author."
 

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Book publishers are desperate and scared. Their world is being shaken to the core.  They had a monopoly and could control everything regarding books. 

They decided which authors got published, how books were published, and how many were published.  They told the author which books covers to use and even what prices to charge.  The Author was completely powerless.

Then e-books came along and the Indie writer jumped on the opportunity offered.  Publishers have absolutely no control over the Indie writer since she does her own thing.  She makes her own decisions, what type of cover to use, what content to put in the book, and what price to sell it for.

What really scares the publishers is Indie books are selling very well since these books are much cheaper than the ones offered by the publishers.  Many are excellent quality too since Indie authors are free to use their own imagination and abilities.

Publishers have a lot of overhead, but Indie writers operate on a shoestring.  So Indie writers can make a profit by selling their books at extremely low prices.

Books are shifting from being printed to being digital.  The publishers are the real losers and will have to adapt to changing market conditions or go under.  Many of them will probably go under.

So Publishers are worried, or at least should be. 

The Publishing world is being changed totally.  So publishers will have to adapt or go under.

So yes, they have plenty to worry about and may become desperate.
 

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They are desperate, and have been for some time: victims of their own hubris and the public education system.  Whole industries have rendered themselves extinct in the past, and will again in the future; it's just their turn is all.  (It is nice to be able to help them out the door, though.)
 

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This ongoing radical shift actually has tremendous ripple effect. Not just the publishing house itself and the agents and editors, but also typesetters, graphic designers and artists, paper companies, printing companies, bricks and mortar stores and their employees (Borders being a prime example) and even the trucking and shipping industry. When revolution happens, people are empowered on one side, and lose jobs and power on the other. That's not good or bad, it just is.

While I agree that the big publishers had a stranglehold on the industry and also am very excited about the change to independents, I won't be surprised if after some shakeup there will still be publishing houses offering editorial and cover/layout services as well as promotional services. Let's face it. While more and more respect (well deserved) is coming to the Indie crowd, there are still more than a few Indie books out there that are very poorly written and edited. As a graphic designer I find it a tremendously exciting time. When Gutenberg invented the printing press, churches lost both money and a stranglehold on what was printed. When the horseless carriage came along, horses were marginalized to a fringe of our society and carriage makers fell into ruin. When the personal computer became affordable and available, typewriters went the way of the dodo bird. It's the way things are, and there are downsides and upsides.

The big mistake I see some publishers making is trying to marginalize and dismiss the electronic/indie world and shore up their traditional and hidebound way of doing things. It's like sticking your finger in a dike; stupid and useless.
 

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I'd hate to be a bookseller and "have" to buy those just in case.  I agree about the "mystery toys"-- I won't even buy the mystery bags at Dollar Tree that they sometimes have.
 

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There's a mindset change brewing amongst the trad agents though.
One of the books my agent turned down has been doing great business on Kindle for me. Even though he never pitched it out to the big 6, he followed the online reviews - and decided to start pitching it, in spite of it already being in ebook form.
I think the future is going to be a hybrid of trad + ebook. With or without free gifts attached :)
 

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The printed book isn't going to disappear any time soon, but I forsee a time when most printed books are glossy coffee table types and almost all fiction is strictly electronic. Not next year, but coming!
 
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Publishers are gimmicking bookstores for more sales. Talk about having confidence in this shocking controversial memoir.

"We're gonna make you buy it, but won't let you know who it is or who wrote it. But it's gonna be huge! Why won't we tell you who? That's a secret. But it'll be huge! We promise! This person will be on 60 minutes. No we don't know how long. Yes, we know that isn't exactly the American Idol of ratings. HUGE SAAAALEEESSS!!!"
 

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DD Graphix said:
The printed book isn't going to disappear any time soon, but I forsee a time when most printed books are glossy coffee table types and almost all fiction is strictly electronic. Not next year, but coming!
I agree - I see a time in which fiction is largely digital, way in the distance. I think some books, like cookbooks, for example, will always be marketable in paper. Even though you can get oodles of free recipes online, paper is really the most useful when actually cooking, IMO.
 
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Tara Maya said:
(Many store owners fumed when the book didn't sell and they were forced to deal with the hassle of returning unsold copies.) ...
Oh, poor babies. They ALREADY return books...to the tune of about 40% of what they order. What "hassle" are they talking about? THEY ALREADY RETURN HUGE VOLUMES OF BOOKS. It is part of the whole problem with the industry. Bookstores won't stock books unless that get discounts of 45-65% and have 100% returnability.

This isn't desperate. It's brilliant marketing. The publisher understands the mentality of its base (which is bookstores). They know how they think, and know they won't be able to resist the bait.

As far as the embargo, restricting purchases until the release date has always been part of the industry...for decades. It is actually designed to protect bookstores from each other so that a store that gets its order early doesn't have an unfair advantage of the others. It also isn't unique to books. Movie studios do this all the time with movie reviewers. Anyone remember the big bruhaha over The Crying Game? Movie reviewers were sworn to secrecy over the ending and then complained that they were sworn to secrecy. It is all part of the marketing. The stores are crying because that is their role in the marketing in order to drive reader interest and conversation.
 

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It might be a little jumpy-over-the-shark, but wild attempts to grab public interest are not always a sign of desperation. People who sell things have always experimented with different ways to do it. Publishing industry gimmicks are part of their business.

I agree, though, this one wouldn't likely work on me as a consumer. Might on others, though - I tend not to represent the mainstream consumer audience very well.
 

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I read this thread and that link twice and I don't quite understand what's going on here (happens a lot).  But if somebody really is going to surprise us with the inside story, influential figure, etc., I'm interested.  But is somebody asking readers to buy a book sight unseen, or just the bookstores?

For a second I thought it might be the Jaycee Dugard book (is that out yet?) but that doesn't sound right.  I've been pretty isolated this summer.  I  get my news from Kindleboards, mostly.

My prediction: it's the Biebs...
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
daveconifer said:
I read this thread and that link twice and I don't quite understand what's going on here (happen's a lot). But if somebody really is going to surprise us with the inside story, influential figure, etc., I'm interested. But is somebody asking readers to buy a book sight unseen, or just the bookstores?

For a second I thought it might be the Jaycee Dugard book (is that out yet?) but that doesn't sound right. I've been pretty isolated this summer. I get my news from Kindleboards, mostly.

My prediction: it's the Biebs...
I doubt customers would be asked to buy the book sight unseen, because I really doubt that would result in a lot of sales. The whole sales scheme is aimed at bookstores, and is hitched on convincing bookstores that they don't DARE not have the books, in case it turns out to be a runaway hit.
 

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It's a marketing ploy designed to generate buzz. If bookstores order a lot of them and create an entire table of them, readers might think it's the next big thing and buy one. I think the mistake publishers have always had is marketing to bookstores and not to readers.
 
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