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Stand up comics, Apple and The Store Around The Corner.

January 26, 2012 1 comment

2 independent developments over the last couple of months could change the book reading scene around the world. I think.

The first was this. Louis CK, another of my favourite stand up comedians, announced that he was going to offer downloads of one of his shows at USD 5 per download. There were no restrictions on what one did after the download. You could burn a DVD, upload it, share it whatever. He didn’t care. It was a bold experiment. A DVD of his show on Amazon could cost you about USD 15. Here he was offering it at 5.

In 10 days he had 1 million downloads.

His secret to success very simply speaking was, remove the middlemen and it’s associated costs and talk to the end customer directly.

So keep that fact in your mind for a minute or two while I move to the next development.

Apple announced the launch of iAuthor. Some details here and here. Keep aside all the rhetoric about Apple’s pricing mechanism but fundamentally what Apple has done is to place the ability to create your own books in your hands.

This has been the case in movies. If you have a handycam you can record your movies, edit it at home and voila you had a decent film. That was not the case with books. You could manipulate some software but never got a book like finish.

Now with iAuthor you do. And it’s free.

So bringing those 2, together imagine what it can do for aspiring, or even famous, book authors. They can write their books, publish them and sell them directly to readers.

No need for a publisher. No need for a book store. No need for Amazon. And it will cost much less.

I was doing some math for India.

Data suggests that an English bestseller, sells about 2000 copies. Megasellers of course go into millions, but a good sale is considered about 2000. Each book is priced at approximately 100 rupees. Total income is INR 200,000. Apparently the author gets about 20% of this which is INR 40,000.

2000 copies printed also brings in related distribution problems as there aren’t sufficient to spread around. Publishers are reluctant to publish more titles or more copies because of the huge costs of printing and distribution and the attendant risks.

Now imagine an author decided to a Louis CK to his book.

She writes her book, uses iAuthor to publish it. And when she does that she can create multiple versions wrt covers, inside pictures etc. Prices it at INR 25 ( 1/4th the current printed prices). Hosts it on her website, and through a combination of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube spreads the word. Given the price, which is extremely low risk, it is not going to take much to sell many thousands around the world. Even if she gives away 30% to Apple, which seems to be their price, she is going to be well ahead of the current situation where the challenges to get published, distributed, noticed and sold are significant.

I believe we may well see the return of bookstores as advisors with this trend.

Computers made book writing easy.

iAuthor will make book publishing easy.

There’s going to be a stack of books published in a few years. And there’ll be need for someone who can sort through that mass and recommend suitable books for the discerning reader. Perhaps that’s when the real value of bookstores will be realised. I just hope that the ‘store around the corner’ is there then.

Who do you believe?

Acer

Acer

That’s a snap shot of a set of headlines I got today.

2 say Acer’s delayed their launch. 1 says it is on track.

The problem with the Web is that everyone is a publisher. And the print and TV media have long held out that their strength is that they research their stories and ensure it is accurate. That’s what they pay their journalists to do. Yes of course there are scams and biases but still a fair degree of credibility.

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