I used to own a small book of business aphorisms, one of which was:
Beware those who ask for feedback. They are really asking for validation.
That saying came to mind today when I read a post over on Teleread.
Joe Biel, the publisher at Microcosm Publishing, revealed that ebooks only account for 1% of Microcosm’s sales. He then invites the reader to tell him how he can boost sales, but it is hard to say whether that is Biel’s true motive or simply an ulterior one.
While Biel does ask for help in increasing ebook sales, he also says that as a whole ebooks are “a veritable commercial flop”. He then goes on to claim that:
It often takes fifteen minutes to get a stranger’s assumptions on the table and to explain what the facts are: bookstores just had a record sales year and have been growing steadily. Paper books still comprise 95-96 percent of total industry sales, with e-books shrinking from their 2012 peak at eight percent of industry market share.
Of course, since the medium is already in decline within ten years after its launch, it’s probable that it will either see a major technological innovation, go the way of the laserdisc and BETAMax,? or globalism will create major logjams in paper supplies and e-books will be our de-facto option.
As you can see, Biel is clearly making up industry statistics out of whole cloth, stats which are contradicted by every other industry source, including the AAP, Author Earnings Report, and Nielsen; heck, even my sentient Magic 8-Ball disagrees with Biel.
Furthermore, Biel’s post is rife with pessimism to such a degree that I don’t think he really wants any help with his ebook sales.
He has protested otherwise in the comments over at Teleread, but I don’t believe him.
I have often found that one can look at how a writer or speaker frames their argument and draw conclusions about what they believe and their position on a topic. Rob Levine, for example, demonstrated in his book and in his keynote at a conference that he hated internet companies (he called them digital parasites, and worse).
Sometimes the unstated beliefs contradict what is said or written, and that’s what I think is happening with Biel. I can’t tell you with absolute certainty what he wants to accomplish, but I don’t think he wants tips for boosting his ebook sales.
From the way he makes shit up, and the pessimistic spin on the post, I think Biel just wants validation for his focus on paper books.
What do you think?
image by tompagenet