The New York Times published an interesting article yesterday titled The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead. In the article, the author Alexandra Alter paints a picture of a publishing world where an ebook apocalypse had been coming for years, but now the fear has subsided and print is gaining a stronger position again.
However, not all the claims made in the article are ready to stand up to scrutiny. Let’s take a closer look at the market situation and the strategic choices made by major publishing houses.
The Hachette versus Amazon battle keeps going on as the most visible symbol of the changing landscape of the publishing industry. I have written about it before, but this time I want to take a look at the situation from a bit broader scope: What should Hachette do to survive not just this battle, but digitalization itself?
Lagardère, the parent company of Hachette, gave a presentation on its views on the publishing market and Hachette’s position in it on their investor day on 28 May 2014. This gives us a good starting point to examine what Hachette thinks it should do, and whether its conclusions and claims are sound.
(Also, I participated in a strategy MOOC recently, so some analysis was good practice for that one as well and I examined Hachette in my final project there.)
The battle between Amazon and Hachette, one of the big five book publishers in the USA, has been going on for months now. The most visible effect of the battle so far has been Amazon’s delays in shipping and removal of pre-order buttons for some Hachette titles.
Originally, the battle was portrayed as being fought over ebook prices for the most part, but recently more information has surfaced on Amazon demanding payment for various services, such as pre-order buttons, personalized recommendations, and a dedicated employee at Amazon for Hachette books.
What is going on? In order to grasp the situation, it is useful to look at what has happened in the publishing industry in the past few years, and a useful lens for exploring this is Michael Porter’s five competitive forces.
The New York Times published an article about Amazon last week titled As Competition Wanes, Amazon Cuts Back Discounts as well as an accompanying blog post titled The Price of Amazon. These two articles, both written by David Streitfeld, convinced me that the publishing industry is failing catastrophically.
In this post, I will elaborate on how the publishing industry is failing, what does Lean at Amazon have to do with why Amazon succeeds, and why Guy Kawasaki’s and Shawn Welch’s recent book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book, should be read by most traditional publishers.