Connecting Authors To Tangible Goods They Can Sell?

from the business-models... dept

When we talk about business models for content, one question we get asked a lot is how these business models could possibly apply to authors. We're always told that such business models might work for music, but couldn't possibly work for authors. To be honest, I find this sort of response incredibly uncreative. If you look around, it's actually not hard to find authors who are making use of new and innovative business models, and even publishers who are willing to embrace that kind of thinking. This is definitely a good thing, but we're always interested in hearing new and more examples of this happening.

Ross Pruden alerts us to an LA Times story about a company called OpenSky that is apparently helping authors implement additional business models by helping them find tangible products they can sell in association with their books. Indeed, the whole concept seems to fit in with our concept of using infinite goods to make scarce goods more valuable:
A cookbook author, for example, not only sells books through OpenSky but also hawks a favorite barbecue sauce and grill. The author pockets 50% of the profit, with the rest going to OpenSky and others involved in the transaction.


David Hale Smith, a Texas literary agent, was about the only one who hadn't morphed roles since Naples last saw him. After they sat down at a table near that escalator, Smith immediately handed her a copy of a client's newest novel: "So Cold the River" by Michael Koryta. Smith mentioned that it's set in an old hotel in central Indiana known for its Pluto Water, believed to have healthful effects.

Naples lit up: "If [Koryta] was on OpenSky, the novel could be tied to a promotion of the hotel. He could have a button on his site for readers to buy the book and the water." (OpenSky would find a supplier to bottle and ship it.) She described other commercial possibilities: a sneak-peak download of a chapter of his next book, a "webinar" with him discussing his stories.
I can already hear the critics complaining about this sort of "crass commercialism" that I'm sure is "destroying" the concept of "art for art's sake," but I find it odd that those who focus on the whole "art for art's sake" argument are the same folks who also complain that the changing marketplace means content creators can't make money any more. No one is saying anyone has to adopt these models -- just that for those who feel comfortable doing so, it's now easier than ever to embrace infinite concepts -- and use them to make scarce goods more valuable.

That said, after reading about all of this, I went and looked at OpenSky, and I don't see any of this on their website. Instead, it looks like a plain old store. If they're really focused on helping content creators, it seems like they would be a lot better off promoting content creators on their site as well.

Filed Under: authors, business models, sales, scarcities, selling, tangible
Companies: opensky

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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 5 Aug 2010 @ 4:11am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Then sell me a book. Paid content.

    Again, that option is out there. What are you complaining about?

    Here's the thing. I read about 100 books or so a year, with more and more of them being ebooks. As is, I can buy them from Amazon (Kindle) or Apple (iBooks), and the author gets paid. I, in turn, get a book. Value given for value received.

    And you're honestly saying you'd be less happy if you could get many of those books for free? Really?

    I don't have to buy t-shirts, or attend seminars, make donations, enter into contracts, or go out of my way to purchase some "scarce" good I don't want or need for each and every one of those 100 authors. I just pay for the book... which is all I wanted in the first place.

    Again, no one is saying that you have to buy any of those things. If you just want the book for free, you get the book for free.

    That's where you seem confused. You keep assuming that the only way to get the content for free will be that you have to buy this other thing. That's not the case. If you just want the content for free, just get the content free. Stop worrying about the other stuff. If you don't want the other stuff, don't buy the other stuff.

    To me, the convenience of the transaction provides the value. RTB.

    And, indeed, convenience is a scarcity that people can sell. It works for you. It doesn't work for others. So why are you complaining about people experimenting with other business models that do NOTHING to get in the way of the business model you prefer, and which might even allow you to spend less on books?

    I don't get it. It's a strange argument that goes "This sucks because I might not have to pay as much as I do now." That doesn't make any sense to me at all.

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