I find all sorts of interesting inventions in the book industry. I have reported on many of them here on this blog over the years. I recently stumbled across a new invention for book covers.
Thijs Biersteker, a Dutch artist, has invented a book cover that judges the reader. The book cover is designed to detect how a reader is judging it based on a scan of the reader’s face. Using a camera and software to identify the emotion in the face it scans, the book cover is programmed to either unlock or stay locked.
This high-tech book cover scans for signs of judgement. If it identifies that the reader is over-excited or skeptical, then the book stays locked. If the reader’s face is neutral (no judgement) the book cover will unlock.
At my first glance at this, I thought that this newly designed high-tech book cover might be a useful tool in determining whether a book cover is effective in engaging readers or not. However, since this system only recognizes “judgement” vs. “non-judgement”, it would not be useful in this manner. If, instead, this high-tech book cover could distinguish between excitement, neutrality, and skepticism, then it might well be a good tool in determining whether a book’s cover would be effective or not. If the book cover only unlocked for those who were excited or neutral, an author could determine whether more people were drawn in or turned off by the cover.
What do you think of this high-tech book cover?
Recent industry news shows that the publishing industry is undergoing a huge shift. The Christian book market’s news this summer included:
- ChristianTrade Association International closed its doors in June.
- CBA has ended Christian Store Week, a program designed to drive traffic to Christian bookstores.
- News that RBTE (Religious Booksellers Trade Exhibit – largely for the liturgical crowd) is “struggling” to go on.
The industry is changing. Book publishing and marketing today barely resembles what it was a decade ago. Many things have changed.
Print no longer dominates the landscape.
- eBooks are taking up a larger and larger percent of book sales (about 25% currently).
- 70% of consumers reported that online consumer reviews were the second most trusted source of information for purchasing decisions.
Brick-and-mortar stores are no longer the number one seller of books.
- In 2012, for the first time, online retail stores sold more books than brick-and-mortar retail stores in the United States. Last year, 43.8% of books bought by consumers were purchased online, while only 31.6% of books were purchased in large retail chains, independent bookstores, other mass merchandisers, and supermarkets.
- Over a quarter of all books purchased are bought on Amazon.com, accounting for 30% of all book dollars spent.
- With increasing Internet connectedness and decreasing physical bookstore browsing, the way people discover books is shifting. As recently as two years ago, one-third of new books were discovered in physical bookstores. Now, that number has shrunk to one-fifth.
Self-publishing is becoming mainstream.
- The number of self-published books produced annually in the U.S. has nearly tripled, growing 287 percent since 2006, and now tallies more than 235,000 print and digital titles, according Bowker® Books In Print.
- Amazon’s CreateSpace was the largest player in the self-publishing space last year, publishing around 60,000 titles.
- Self-published titles are beginning to dominate the ebook bestseller lists. For example, five of the 10 ebook bestseller titles for April 2013 as compiled by Digital Book World were self-published titles.
The publishing world is changing. This is good news for independent authors and small publishers. The whole process of publishing and selling books from the entry point to publishing a book to marketing that book has become within reach of almost anyone. Of course, with more books available, the hardest work now is getting your books noticed.
Book Expo America (BEA) is the largest trade show the book business hosts. It is a general book show that includes secular and Christian titles. Famous people (and not so famous people) come to BEA to sign their latest titles.
The International Christian Retail Show (ICRS), held later this month, is a similar trade show to BEA, except that it is a niche show just for the Christian market. As such, it is smaller than BEA.
If you have never attended either BEA or ICRS, watch this recent video shot at BEA this year to get a small glimpse of what a book trade show is like.
Many authors I talk to balk as giving out free books at a trade show. Yet, you will see from this video that it is the usual form of business at such shows. While not every author at BEA gives away free books, giving away something to promote a book is usual and customary. You will see in this video that instead of giving away free copies of her new cookbook, Paula Dean gave away signed copies of a recipe from her new book.
Remember, good marketing usually costs money, but if you want to do it well and save money, that takes great creativity.