Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ripples from the Borders bankruptcy

and Jane Eyre is back on the big screen

I recently attended logged in to my first webinar -- an online seminar presented by Writer's Digest. The timely topic -- The Borders Dilemna: What the New World Order of Bookselling means for Writers.
Informative and disturbing, the webinar offered useful advice for writers -- both published and yet to be.  Here are some of the main points:
* A total of about 270 to 275 Borders are expected to be closing - or about 40 percent of the chain's 650 stores.

* Borders has traditionally been a supporter of mid-list books. The reduced store count will influence future decisions publishers make about which books to publish.

Here's an abbreviated and somewhat depressing sort of flowchart:

* Fewer bookstores = fewer books will be sold = publishers will acquire fewer books = smaller print runs = reduced royalty fees paid to authors.

Now for some suggested action items to help writers adapt to this new world order:

* Arm your editor to advocate for your book.

* Explore direct-to-consumer options - such a book clubs - especially if you already have a following.

* Educate your prospective or current publisher about alternative markets for your book (e.g. niche stores, museum stores, etc.)

* Identify your book's USP (unique selling point). What makes it stand out over comparable titles?

* Find out what your position is on the list. Where do you rank? How can you improve your rank/visibility on the list? Try to connect directly with your publisher's PR/marketing people to develop a plan.

* Self-market. It's probably more important than ever to build a platform for yourself and your books: Join associations, participate on Amazon Central, join Listmania on Amazon -- as well as speaking, touring and social networking.

* If your books are out-of-print - and rights have reverted to you - convert them into e-books.

For more on the financial implications of the Borders bankruptcy, here's an interesting article from Daily Finance.

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So -- If you're wondering how the new Jane Eyre film adaptation fits in with the Borders debacle - it doesn't. I was just longing to rhapsodize about Jane Eyre, and needed an evocative image for this post.  As one of countless women who lost myself in the book as a young girl, it's a nostalgic treat to revisit Jane, and I hope the film will be the catalyst for a new generation of girls to discover her.

In case you missed it, there was a great story about the many film versions of Jane on the front page of last Sunday's New York Times Arts & Leisure section.

Any other advice for writers on adapting to the new market? Fond memories of reading Jane Eyre as a young girl -- or boy? Please comment, and while you're here, why not a become a follower?

Check back soon! More on Jane as well as the blog tour for Quacky Baseball (new picture book by Peter Abrahams, illustrated by Frank Morrison, HarperCollins Children's Books) coming up... 


Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

At the Borders bookstore in Salt Lake City there's a guy with a sandwich board dancing and waving his little plaque trying to get customers to come in for all the good "out of business" deals.

Personally, I never shopped there anyway. Heck, I live across the street from a Barnes & Noble and haven't bought a book there in two years. I just download what I want on my iPad while sipping tea (usually from Amazon). It's so much trying to find the right aisle, etc.

Diane Browning said...

Great post, Megan. Borders closing stores is a great loss (I'll miss them) and the ramifications are extremely worrisome. I had not thought about some of the points you went over, and they definitely will effect the careers of many of us in the children's publishing world.

Luckily there were positive steps given to try to cushion the damage. And thanks for the good news--an antidote to worry--a new Jane Eyre movie! Lots of drama, windswept moors and over-the-top romance. Yea!

The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

Depressing news. To promote myself, I'll have to resort to "releasing" a sex tape in which I'm dressed as Mr. Rochester.
Locked in the Attic

Laurie Young said...

Thanks for sharing this, Megan. It is depressing, although debut authors will be affected less. It will be the 2nd and 3rd books that will have a much harder time. All the suggestions you posted will help, but not solve the fact that fewer books will be published. Period. Brainstorming marketing ideas is now an essential skill writers must develop.

I loved Jane Eyre (and Wuthering Heights,) too! Thanks for reminding me, it's time for a reread before the movie opens . . .

Megan Frances Abrahams said...

That's a very practical approach, Michael. I love my Kindle, but I still buy conventional books too. I'm previewing a picture book on a net galley right now, and for that genre it's definitely not as good as the bound and printed version. Eventually, e-formats will evolve. Then maybe it won't matter.

Thanks for commenting, Diane. Let's all bury our heads in the sand about the publishing industry and go see Jane Eyre.

Dear Locked in the Attic - that's one adaptation of the Jane Eyre story that hasn't been tried yet.

Laurie, I know the news is grim. It's ironic that what we really need now is more good books - just to escape.

Gail Gauthier said...

Oddly enough, I wasn't that crazy about Jane Eyre when I was a teenager. The party scene in which she sits in a corner made an impression on me as well as the fire at the end, but I certainly didn't "get" the book or see why it was significant. It wasn't until I reread it after reading The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde that I was really blown away by the thing.

The image you use is from my favorite Jane Eyre production to date.

And, yeah, the Borders thing is not going to make my life any easier.

Lee Rae said...

I say we all blame it on bad management. Maybe another big bookstore will move in and replace Borders. Lives will go on, Kindles and Nooks will spontaneously combust and everyone will want to read a real book again. Kids will be brought up not knowing the word Video Game. You guys, the writers, will prevail! I have to believe that.

Lee Rae said...

Oh, and I am having a vision of an iPad exploding while someone is sipping his tea enjoying his so very easy life. All that stress trying to figure out the right isle... ho hum.

Megan Frances Abrahams said...

Thank you, Gail. I'm intrigued. Now I have to look for The Eyre Affair.

Lee Rae, I think you're on to something. We must find comfort in the fact that lives will go on, there will always be books in some format or another -- and some books are bound to be explosive. (I just realized that's an unintended pun).

Anonymous said...

Megan, perfect pun! I get emotional over book store closings and you said just the right thing to calm my anger.

Looking forward to the Quacky Blog tour as I have never participated in one before. Please give instructions for us beginners. Opening day is coming soon! There is life after winter. sigh.

Lee Rae said...

Megan, weird but your blog posted my message as "Anonymous" after logging in and previewing it, the post had my name as "Lee Rae". A glitach I guess. But I did post the Anonymous post above.

Megan Frances Abrahams said...

That is odd, Lee Rae, aka Anonymous. Thanks for letting me know.

I think the Quacky blog tour will either be next week or the week of the 21st. Details are being sorted out. It's going to be wonderful when it actually happens.

The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

"We must find comfort in the fact that lives will go on..."
Alas, I must seek comfort in the soft, doughy, warm mass of chocolate chip cookies.
Baked at 365 Degrees

Julie Musil said...

The situation with Borders breaks my heart. This whole industry is changing before our eyes. I'm dizzy just trying to keep up with it all!

Love Jane Eyre, and I wouldn't be surprised if a new movie created young fans. Sort of like the Keira Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice (although Colin Firth is still my favorite Mr. Darcy)