Long-Tail Marketing, or One of Everything Available
The strongest features of POD are the broad distribution possibilities and the breakdown of proprietary fences. Any of the publishers above — Amazon, BN, SmashWords and others — may also strike a distribution deal with BrookStrand, Amazon, BN, Google Books, Borders (R.I.P.), eBay and other booksellers. Royalties may change in the process. In addition, there are online book retailers — iPad and iTunes, Kobo, Android, Diesel and Sony — who are defining the book-selling picture.
This has been termed “long tail marketing,” a business model “invented” by Amazon and named by Chris Anderson in his book, The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More. Instead of one essentially bricks-and-mortar outlet stocking just the high-volume products, a few online retailers can in effect stock everything.
A more formal Wikipedia reference states, “The distribution and inventory costs of businesses successfully applying this (long-tail) strategy allow them to realize significant profit out of selling small volumes of hard-to-find items to many customers instead of only selling large volumes of a reduced number of popular items. Total sales of this large number of ‘non-hit items’ is called the Long Tail.”
Multi-book author Konrath says, “Do you know what that is? That's distribution. The very thing print publishers have had a lock on for a hundred years. Except now, authors control their own distribution.” He also notes, the e-book rights his print publishers control “are missing from many of these key markets. On a daily basis I get emails from fans who want Whiskey Sour or Afraid for their device or in their country, but my publishers aren't exploiting these rights.”
Breaking News: The traditional “books-and-mortar” business scheme may change if John Malone, “who made a fortune in cable television,” succeeds in buying Barnes & Noble for $1 billion. So saith The New York Times on May 20. Malone is sick of businesses like BN attracting people to come in and read for two hours. In the near future BN may look sort of like an Apple store.