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What could B&N and Smashwords do better? Share your ideas

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 3:13 pm
by aburt
Over on the Huffington Post, Mark Coker of Smashwords lambastes Amazon for their anti-competitive moves surrounding the recent "KDP Select" program, whereby Amazon gets exclusivity for ebooks in exchange for an unknown share of a $500,000/month pie.

His points that this is an anti-competitive move are on-target; it is, and probably should be investigated as such.

However, it begs what seems to me to be the real issue today: That Amazon doesn't need to ask for exclusivity, because they already have the lion's share of sales, and thus the real concern here is that B&N, Smashwords, Apple, Sony, etc. are such a low, low share of ebook sales.

A Goldman Sachs report indicated B&N was half the market share of Amazon, at 27% vs. 58% -- yet anecdotes from many pro authors are that it's nowhere near this high, and more like a 10:1 ratio at best between Amazon and B&N. That's a terrible shame -- it would be awesome if B&N sales were half of Amazon's!
-- but they aren't, so it leads to the question:

What could B&N, Smashwords, or those others do better?

I have to ascribe a large chunk of failure to the other players for not being adequately competitive. I'm not defending Amazon -- I love competition -- I'm bemoaning that the other distributors don't have the knack that Amazon does for selling ebooks. Amazon appears to have put a lot of (successful) effort into selling not just bestsellers but books from indie and midlist authors.

So what could they do better to sell more of your ebooks?

Perhaps if we compile a list we can submit it; I'm sure Mark at Smashwords would be receptive at least, even if we couldn't reach anyone at B&N.

So let's critique B&N and Smashwords as examples of what they could improve. Post your thoughts/ideas/critiques here...

Re: What could B&N and Smashwords do better? Share your ideas

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 3:26 pm
by aburt
Some of my own thoughts to start the ball rolling...

1. Smashwords is pretty slow to approve titles for the Premium Catalog; I've had titles sit there for a month or two, then it takes seemingly several weeks more for them to show up in the Apple store/etc. With Amazon, a newly posted book appears within a day or two.

2. Smashwords is slower to pay than Amazon. Amazon isn't the fastest, either, paying two months after a month finishes; but Smashwords aggregates a whole quarter, then pays a month after. So there's room for Smashwords to beat Amazon at faster payments.

3. Smashwords lacks the kind of "if you liked X then you'll like Y" recommendation system.

4. B&N has -- get this -- Google ads at the bottom of the page for your book. Hrunh?!? That might earn B&N more revenue (perhaps this revenue is [wrongly] included in calculating that "27%" share of ebook sales?) but it earns nothing for the author/publisher. Clicking on a google ad takes the customer away from B&N's site and your ebook's page. That's just... sad. It means B&N lacks confidence and ability to profit from their core business -- selling your book -- and has to resort to off-topic, non-core business lines to make money. B&N should either yank the google ads, or share the revenue with the author/publisher in the same ratio as book sales.

What else?

Re: What could B&N and Smashwords do better? Share your ideas

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 7:25 pm
by aburt
One more: B&N should pay a higher royalty percentage than Amazon -- not a lower one. (Amazon pays 70%, B&N pays 65%.) I have no incentive to encourage Nook sales when I make more money from Kindle sales.

Re: What could B&N and Smashwords do better? Share your ideas

PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 8:25 pm
by crit21453
I'm in an anthology that's for sale on Smashwords, and I was given a link to promote it, but when I clicked on it, I couldn't find the book. So Smashwords could make it easier for people following a link to find the book they're looking for. I ended up just using the old link they gave me, an Amazon link, and all the Amazon links work perfectly. So it's no surprise they're no. 1.