Why Book Publishers Should Sell Books Direct
In a digital era fueled by endless advances in commerce and communication, publishers are finding more opportunities than ever to extend their sales.
One of the fastest moving trends driving publisher profitability—as seen from the likes of Simon and Schuster and Penguin Random House—has been selling books direct to consumers.
What are Direct Book Sales
In the most basic sense, a direct book sale occurs when publishers sell direct to consumers, through a consumer-facing market place. Thanks to smart innovations in ecommerce, many publishers have found this evolution from book publisher to book seller simple to implement and highly rewarding.
Publishers who sell their books direct are capitalizing in a variety of ways. These additional gains may not show up on a quarterly statement, but definitely impact what that ledger shows.
Direct to Consumer Sales Benefits
When publishers decide to sell direct, their main hope may be a big pay-off that manifests in the form of higher sales. In reality, however, there are some additional benefits to consider when a publisher evolves from a centralized role as a book publisher, to a more expansive capability as a book seller. And these benefits can have a more lasting impact than just a book sale:
- A direct connection to the reader – Often, publishers are disassociated with the people who impact their bottom line the most—their readers. Selling direct, whether through an online bookstore or a social media page, bridges that gap.
Most of the ancillary benefits of a direct sales channel derive from this one powerful characteristic. Unfettered access to your target audience allows you to open up your digital marketing toolkit and create a nurturing and productive relationship with consumers.
- Collection of useful customer data – Now that you are connecting with your readers on a more intimate level, you can reap the rewards of consumer data like; email addresses, demographics, and buying habits - all the analyticsthat, in the past, have been kept lock and key by retailers and online booksellers.
- Increased brand recognition – Unless you're a member of the Big Five (most of whom have embraced some form of direct book sales) your typical reader will rarely connect your publisher brand with a positive reading experience. Usually those laurels are reserved for authors.
The simple act of selling books online, direct to consumers, is enough to start building a reputation for excellence that will keep your readers coming back to your marketplace.
In most cases, direct to consumer books sales take place via an online bookstore, usually connected to your website, a blog, or social media platform. Sound like a lot of effort? Not really when you consider how accessible ecommerce has become for literally anyone, including book publishers.
You don’t need to hire a team of programmers and developers to get started. It can be as easy as adding a shopping cart or BUY button to your current website or blog. It really depends on how far you want to voyage into the wide open spaces allotted by a digital marketplace.
Some publishers have picked up the direct to consumer movement and ran with it at a sprint. This includes placing more consumer-friendly content on their websites—video interviews with authors, industry articles, special features—that engage your readers and show a different side of the publisher. The side that really cares about books and what is happening in the world of books. The side that has a reader’s interests in mind, not just the book publisher’s annual sales report.
The digital age has drastically changed the way people shop, purchase, and interact with products, and those who create them. Publishers are not immune to this shift in consumer behavior. For publishers, this doesn't require a drastic change in sales strategy, but an adaptation.
Start thinking of your website as an online bookstore framed by sought after book content. It is the future of consumer-facing book sales. And a wise move for any publisher wanting to stay relevant in a fast moving, increasingly digitized marketplace.