Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Decline of Brick-and-Mortar Delivery

Outwrite Bookstore in Atlanta has recently shut down, buried under a mountain of debt and not able to compete with the Internet vendors. Outwrite was one of the largest and oldest gay bookstores left in the country, after many others like Different Light Bookstores in L.A. and San Francisco closed. It is a shame, but it is the result of a changing marketplace.

During the past five years there has been a strengthening push for digital delivery, trending alongside the proliferation of personal media devices—mobile phones, Nooks, Kindles, and iPads. Explosive growth in this sector has changed the way we consume media.

With bookstores closing and paperback books being replaced by ebooks, the old method of getting your name out there to new readers—book readings/signings—is quickly disappearing as well.

The challenge for authors is to adapt to this evolving landscape of media consumption when planning their marketing efforts. Word of mouth is still king, and is more important than ever. We have broader social connections through social media like Facebook and Twitter, and an open mic platform to invite readers to get to know you via blogging. The potential for networking with new readers is higher than it has ever been—the problem is, it is much more challenging to get noticed in all the chatter. The goal is becoming a clear voice rather than part of the noise.

It is something that I am not good at, yet, and is something I work at every day. It takes work. It takes patience. It takes fortitude. I also think it takes always sending a clear and consistent message that “this—whatever this is for any particular writer—is what I stand for.”

The good news is that it doesn't take a million dollar marketing budget and a twenty-city book tour to find an audience anymore. A solid story and a lot of networking is all you need to get the cash register cha chinging.

I am excited about this new future unfolding in the media industries, though somewhat sad about the passing of an era. I truly miss browsing in books stores.

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