two things the publishing industry doesn’t get about book buyers

In my continued (mostly private) musings about ebooks and the publishing industry in general, I believe there are two things the publishing industry in general doesn’t get about book buyers. I say in general, because I can’t quite get my head around that individuals in the publishing industry wouldn’t get these no-brainers:

1. The vast majority of book buyers do not care, much less know, who published the books they’ve bought.
In other words: brand loyalty to publishers is low. A lot of run-of-the-mill book buyers would be hard-pressed to even name some big publishers. If you’d go into an average bookshop and asked a few members of the browsing public to name a big publisher, most of the answers would probably be… er…. Amazon?

2. The book buyer puts much more monetary value on a hard copy than the publisher does
This is why buyers demand an ebook to be substantially cheaper than a print book. All of the publishing industry’s whinging about editing costs, marketing, etc etc that also apply to ebooks is… perfecty true, but sounds like a great big lot of whingery and self-justification.
The average book buyer thinks that to have a physical book in hand is worth at least a few bucks over having only an electronic copy.

Meanwhile, I have this post up on Aussie horror writer’s Shane Jiraiya Cumming’s blog.

7 comments on “two things the publishing industry doesn’t get about book buyers

  1. I’d have to say that even among writers, brand loyalty to publishers is pretty low. I know I don’t check who the publisher of a book is before I buy it. I could care less. I know who the big publishers are, but that’s only from researching where I might submit my own work.

    And I have to say that I also put a premium on having a paper book over an ebook. Sure, editing and those costs are the same either way, but an ebook doesn’t have printing, shipping, or warehousing costs like a paper book does. And that should count for at least a couple dollars.

    • Yes, but writers at least know who the publishers are, even if only for the nefarious reason that they can submit to those publishers.

      Then the argument follows the following line: if the public doesn’t care who has published a book, do they care if a big publisher has published it, a small publisher or–gasp–no publisher at all? I think they care a lot less than the publishing industry would have us believe

  2. The funny thing about item 1 is that it’s not true for graphic novels: The biggest publishers do have significant brand recognition and loyalty, and publish distinct kinds of things. That, and the success of brands like Harlequin, is why I believe publishers COULD develop lines as favorably recognizable to customers as authors or series are now. On the other hand, narrowing their offerings down far enough to make it work might be too risky.

    • Yup on both accounts.
      I am not familiar with graphic novels (er… other than Asterix, and I couldn’t name you the publisher of those), but I was thinking of Mills & Boon as a brand name that is successful, but in that case, I think a publisher’s range should be narrow so that it’s identifiable.

  3. Yes! Publisher brand recognition doesn’t matter…unless it does. For digital presses, this can be an issue as dedicated readers do complain about having to open multiple accounts for each press they buy ebooks from. I believe there was some slight irritation a couple of years ago regarding authors who published with several e-presses as a result.

    Why not buy from an aggregate internet storefront? Well, you can’t blame the readers, who are trying to do right by their favourite authors. (Royalties from the publisher’s site are greater than from third parties.) For traditional print publishers though…yeah, I agree. Nobody really cares.

  4. Pingback: Tweets that mention two things the publishing industry doesn’t get about book buyers « Must Use Bigger Elephants --

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