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 @ 4:15am

    Re: Relentless commercialization isn't *new*.

    Just look at your collection of Star Wars action figures and you'll know I'm right. To me, toys and trinkets tied-in *cheapens* the experience, and makes me avoid the major item in the first place:

    If it cheapens the experience, then you're *doing it wrong*. We're saying do the exact opposite. Don't cheapen the experience at all. Instead, find LEGITIMATE value that people WANT. What you describe above -- in terms of "contrived to sell Chinese-made junk" -- is the exact opposite of what we're talking about. We're talking about figuring out what people actually want and value and offering that.

    And what about licensing? Doesn't this breed the rabid "copyrighting" you mocked for (I think) the "Twilight" series? Will the first author to tie-in to "Pluto water" have a lock on it forever?

    I honestly have no idea what you're asking here?

    (And how is this to work for science fiction? Where are you going to get "Martian joola-joola water" (that *is* from an old book), let alone di-lithium crystals?)

    Um. Who said you have to sell martian joola-joola water or di-lithium crystals?

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