Changes in a technology create peripheral business opportunities – business opportunities that make some people very wealthy – that would not have made sense before that technology existed. One example of new business opportunities is associated with the book business which has been around since Gutenberg created his printing press.
With the wide use of computers, smartphones, and tablets, electronic books began to gain market share several years ago. And, like many people, I am reading e-books more and more all the time. For a while we had to wait a while before the e-book version of paper books came out, but now it’s unusual to find a physical book without its electronic counterpart. E-books are so popular that some innovative companies have given up on physical books all together and are only publishing their books in an electronic format.
In 2009 Jane Friedman who had spent four decades in the book business (including a stint as President and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide) and Jeffrey Sharp (an Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning filmmaker) started Open Road Integrated Media and Early Bird Books. Friedman, who had a vast knowledge of the book business, decided to republish books from the past in a digital format – only in a digital format. Think about that: no printing, no warehousing, no dealing with book stores, and no transportation (mailing or otherwise) is involved.
Early Bird Books also sends out a daily e-mail about certain e-books that are on sale at a low price (and even free at times). You buy them over the internet through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and other companies that handle e-books, and the product is electronically delivered through those companies rather than by Early Bird Books. Even the financial transactions are handled by Amazon and the other companies, and you read the books on their e-readers or on their apps.
In a variation on that idea two young men, Nicholas Ciarelli and Josh Schanker, co-founded a company called BookBub in 2012. BookBub is described as a curated e-book discovery service for readers. Ciarelli and Schanker have worked out a deal with the major book publishers in the U.S. in which BookBub choose books that they think will sell well, and offer those books through a daily e-mail newsletter to the million or more people on their mailing list. The books are sold for a dollar or two for a limited time, then the prices revert to the normal e-book prices. BookBub is paid a small fee by each book’s publisher (who in return for that fee gets a book before the eyes of millions of people), and BookBub gets a small percentage of the receipts on sales. The publishers obviously think the cost is worth the publicity their books receive. Like Early Bird Books you actually buy the e-books from Amazon and other e-book sources, and read them on that company’s e-reader or app.
Neither company mentioned above asks for anything more than an e-mail address so that you can receive their newsletters each day (weekends included). You don’t have to open an account with them because the financial transaction is handled through Amazon or whatever company through which you make your purchase. By the way, there are half a dozen or so companies that you can normally buy through, but occasionally only one or two of those companies offer a particular discounted e-book at the bargain price.
If you’re thinking about trying an e-book but don’t want to spend much money to get a book, consider buying one at a discount. Like Early Bird Books and BookBub, Amazon and Barnes & Noble also send out a newsletter advertising cheap or even free e-books.
I also get a daily newsletter from Audible, which lists audio books that can be purchased at a steep discount. In some cases you can buy a discounted e-book from Amazon and then tack on the audio version for three or four dollars. The Kindle app allows you to switch between the e-book and the audio book seamlessly.
I have so many physical books that I can hardly find room for new ones – though I find it impossible to refrain from adding to my library. E-books and audio books don’t take up any physical space, so I don’t have to watch my wife roll her eyes as she does every time she sees yet another new book appear.