As I was going for a run this weekend I recalled some advice about trying to keep four strides to each breath, and whenever I try to do this deliberately I almost trip myself up with the complexity of trying to consciously do something that my body normally looks after for me.
Obviously as a bloke I have enough problems walking and chewing at the same time, however it has made me think about the problems that publishers have when trying to manage both their print and digital sales (whilst in the case of smaller publishers also commissioning, editing and producing the books).
I speak to publishers every day and most share common issues when trying to manage the multiple channels, formats, devices and requirements that the addition of eBook sales has thrown up. It’s fair to say that there’s not much traditional sales experience that applies directly to the eBook market; conversion, formats, devices, metadata and discoverability, DRM, reach and the duplication of tasks to deal with multiple retailers.
Before joining Vearsa, I worked as a Key Accounts Manager for a large publisher and a large proportion of my time was spent preparing sales packs and filling out retailer and wholesaler spreadsheets (each subtly different) each month, attempting to find sufficient information via the company intranet and chasing individual editors where necessary, in order to get our forthcoming titles even listed, let alone sold.
These administrative activities are even more important when listing eBooks as there is no other way that the information will get to the retailers than the publishers submitting it (there’s precious little Nielsen eBook traffic), and with the growing number of retailers that Vearsa is dealing with I can see this being a problem for even the largest publishers just to maintain the information flow, let alone ensuring that the titles are gaining prominence and are showing the correct information.
Most publishers will employ at least one dedicated Account Manager to handle the large retailers and wholesalers, and many will have a handful, however looking after the increasingly complex requirements of the panoply of eBook outlets is quite often reserved for over-worked and often under-resourced Sales or Marketing Admins.
If this is how a publisher values eBook sales as part of its overall strategy then no wonder they are questioning the revenues and patchy coverage.
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