Broadway and books, sitting in a tree.

I was sitting in the airport lounge at DFW yesterday after my 3rd canceled flight in 7 days and I realized two things:

1.  Just because you’re in Texas, doesn’t mean it’s going to be warm.

2.  Broadway is in the same boat as books.

It was the guy across the aisle from me, reading the Dan Brown novel of the month, that inspired this little light bulb. I started thinking to myself . . .

“Oh books!  Your business model poses some challenges, doesn’t it.

1.  You are sold through third parties and not directly by your publisher, so you can’t control your customer’s information.

2.  You are considered too expensive when you first go to market in your first class (i.e. Hardcover) form and are constantly being asked to discount.

3.  You are being challenged by more modern forms of entertainment that are now available in so many places where you used to be one of the only options.

4.  Your creators make more money writing screenplays

Oh what will become of the printed word on the page in 10 years?  20 years?  50 years?”

It was about then that I snapped about of my faux-Shakespearean “Oh”-filled daydream and realized that books weren’t the only business in town with these problems.

I don’t have the answers to these challenges.  Not yet anyway.  But I will tell you this . . . I started reading some book publishing blogs today. And I’m going to start watching the leaders in that industry to see what they do to face the (ice) storms ahead.

Just because people don’t sell the same thing you do, doesn’t mean they don’t have the same problems.  And they just may have some of the answers.

Or better, maybe you can find them together.

If there is anyone from the book publishing industry that wants to chat, email me.

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  • Jay says:

    Ken, definitely check out Nathan Bransford’s blog on books. Very insightful and most of the advice on writing applies to plays and musicals. My favorite book blog.

  • One way that publishers are combatting lower demand is with “print on demand” which eliminates storage and retail costs and ensures that they are only producing what they know people want to buy. Now, it would be cost prohibitive to have millions of shows rehearsed and then just waiting for someone to “demand” them, but we are a creative industry and I’m sure we can find a lesson in this. Maybe having communities vote on the shows they are interested in seeing. Maybe selling tickets at the first workshop so you end up with 10,000 producers who have put a few hundred dollars into the show. This is the idea behind non-profit subscriptions. We are in an era of “user generated content” (which makes me VERY nervous because not everyone is truly creative) so there’s got to be a way to bring people in on the ground floor of a production so their demand (and their friends’ demand) for the final product is built in from the word “go.” Just some thoughts.

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