Some great information over at the Book Business Mag website. Book Publishing, Book Industry News, Content Delivery, Production Tips : Book Business. I get the printed mag as well as follow online. The issue is good, however, I found one piece really interesting. It talks about eBooks and how publishers are approaching the emerging e and how that is affecting print.
There are some great questions asked; how much percentage wise accounts for your print vs eBook sales, etc. What I thought was interesting is that one had a fear of the PDA approach. For those not knowing what this is; here’s a down and dirty. Patron Drive Acquisition puts the collection development and acquisition part of purchases into the patrons hands. I think what scares pubs is will the big ticket items for them sell. Well, if you truly about giving your customers the content they want, how they want it, then this shouldn’t scare you. (this is exactly what many pubs say they are trying to accomplish)
Here’s the thing, PDA is a unique service for a specific market, the education market, more so the Higher Ed market, not so much the K-12 ed market. Possibly public libraries and community colleges will go for this, but more then often you are looking at your Standford, Johns Hopkins, etc. heavy research libraries. Here’s the deal though, this isn’t a wild and wooly experience, the librarian can still control the PDA experience and tweak it at any time to better serve acquisitions and collection development. In fact, this is great for reference material. I can’t even count how many times librarians told me that they have no idea on the number of uses of non-circulating reference materials. Or that if it is used once in 5 years it’s a success and worth the purchase. Now this isn’t slamming them or their abilities. What it equals is a a change in the way reference is being used, purchased and how librarians can more effectively do collection development on an area that can run in the thousands of dollars. If you purchase more wisely, wouldn’t you? Well, that’s what PDA allows for, better control on buying and getting what their patrons want which equals publishers having their customers buy what serves them better.
I’ve done an article touching on this over at Teleread.org, but am considering one in greater depth here as well. I’ve worked for many publishers, vendors, sold aggregators services and worked with authors and librarians and retail for half of my life almost. I’m not saying I am the greatest out there, but I’ve seen this from many many angles, and I am awe struck some times when pubs say that they are trying to serve their customers the best way possible, but they never offer up how they are going to do that or if they are now, how they are accomplishing it now. Really?
Here’s a thought, do what you say your going to do and take the chance. The customers and everyone involved will surprise you. Sure some will take advantage of it, but think of the feedback you would be able to garner from things such as PDA, truly seeing what titles help vs what you think will help….. less guessing and more hands on.