Making Money on Nothing
When I was on vacation, playing cards with friends, someone said, “Hey, have you seen these? Try one.” It was Hershey’s new Kisses Air Delight. It’s the same Hershey’s Kiss you’ve always loved, but now “gently blended into a light, airy texture.”
What this means is that you are now paying the same amount of money for less chocolate. In place of the missing chocolate, Hershey’s has added an ingredient that is entirely free to them—air.
I don’t know what you think of this, but I think it is brilliant.
It’s time for publishers to do the same—make money on something that costs publishers nothing or on something they do anyway but don’t currently charge for. If they did, the problems of the industry would disappear. Here are a few ideas I’m working on:
Create “Spaces Only” Editions. Some people have a hard time reading a whole book. But publishers can make editions that solve that problem instantly by taking out all those pesky words and bits of punctuation that make reading so difficult. With a “Spaces Only” edition of every book, publishers could double their backlist overnight, save oodles on typesetting and proofreading, and serve their customers by providing truly “light” reading. Think of how much easier it would be to read War and Peace with only the spaces between words remaining. High school students would love it, not to mention those looking for some summer beach reading.
Sell Advertising on Book Covers. Publishers already spend a lot of money printing a book and making it available electronically. But are they really getting their money’s worth out of that? Think of all the eyeballs looking at book covers in stores and online—eyeballs that instead could be induced to actually buy something. Those covers are valuable real estate. Why not monetize that space rather than let it sit there just promoting the book? Cookbooks could advertise grocery stores. Science fiction would be the perfect place to promote the latest electronic gadgetry. Christian books could take ads for churches or Christian colleges. You think authors will object? Not if they get a cut!
Books! Not Just for Reading Anymore! For centuries people have been doing a lot more with books than just reading them—like using them to prop up computer monitors that are too low on a desk. Books have been used as door stops, as paper weights, as status symbols, and as garage sale merchandise. It’s time to make some money on this, people! Publishers should start promoting such dual-purpose potential of books from the get go. “A riveting romance—and ideal for balancing on your head to achieve perfect posture!”
Recycle Before You Cycle. Returns and remainders are two of the publishing industry’s biggest banes. Pallets full of unsold books, doomed to be pulped, keep coming back to clog up warehouses. Instead publishers should offer “Pre-Remainder Specials.” For $5 a publisher could “sell” a book to a customer with the offer to shred it immediately. This way customers won’t have to bother with books that won’t be sold or read—that saves shipping both ways. Think of the ecological advantage and the appeal that would have to book buyers! Best of all, it’s half the price of an ebook.
Boy, I love vacation. I always get such great ideas when I’m away. I ought to go more often!
Posted by Andy Le Peau
at August 9, 2011 7:29 AM
Still there are those who love books. My son does, and he graduated from seminary some 12 years ago. One elderly gentleman said he preferred books that he could hold in his hand. Me? I like to mark them up, underline, put notes in the margin. I have written in the margin of one of Spurgeon's Morning and Devening devotions, the one where he prayed for children, grandchildren, etc., that I knew his prayers were answered as a friend of mine in seminary knew one of Spurgeon's great great grandsons who was a minister in my friend's native Northern Ireland.
Even so, I am modern enough to know that there is a definite advantage to a kindle type of device that could contain the whole of my library of 12,000 plus volumes. I also have thousands, perhaps 10,000, 5x8 notecards in a number of areas of research which might be better organized and more conducive to writing in an electronic medium. What is exciting to me as one who has done so much research is the possibility of having everything written on a subject immediately accessible. That is a scholar's dream. It is an embarrassment of riches that I see coming, an overwhelming amount of information to be digested. Life promises to get down right interesting just as I am drawing near to the time of passing from the natural scene. The only consolation is that the perfect, the complete, lies in the next life.