Getting Noticed

Posted by jlubans on January 23, 2018

Caption: Logos for the Ezis Press, publisher of Fables for Leaders.

As an indie publisher, I am challenged by how to get a book like Fables for Leaders noticed amidst the pandemonium of the book-selling universe.
I have written about other challenges for the indie publisher,
including “The Ezis Press: Indie Publisher” and “A Tale of Two Covers: Designing Fables for Leaders
Today’s Topic: What do readers encounter when looking up a book, either to buy or borrow?
At its founding, Amazon made vast improvements to our antiquated book distribution system. No quarrel there.
But, now, 20 years later, how is it doing? How is it doing especially as the world’s leading bookseller?
Enter forced serendipity.
You know your serendipity.
It’s what happens when you are browsing for a book in the library stacks - maybe with the location number in hand – and you discover not only the book you want but also several others, unknown to you.
Sometimes those other books are better for your purposes than the one you were looking for. You’ve found something really good without knowing that you were looking for it.
That’s one of the happy notions behind open stack library browsing, serendipity.
Libraries facilitate this by classifying similar books close to each other.
At Amazon (and to some extent at Google) what appears near what you want may not be a happy coincidence but a paid-for placement.
Like in a grocery store, if a manufacturer wants the eye level shelf to display his ketchup, he’ll have to pay for it.
If you do not have the money, then settle for the bottom shelf.
Libraries - egalitarian bastions - do not do that even if they do appear to have a “problem” with books from indie publishers.
If libraries buy your book, they will treat you fair and square.
Your book won’t be elbowed out of the way by someone with a mega-marketing dollar.
For example, here’s what happens when I search for Fables for Leaders on Amazon.
I enter the title Fables for Leaders. Unlike a library online catalog, Amazon’s search results begin with a display of three unrelated books:
There’s “'Develop the Leader Within You' with (sic) John Maxwell" (grinning as he should having sold 25 million copies of his books).
And, there’s his:
“The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You (10th Anniversary Edition).”
And, there’s also his:
“The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork: Embrace Them and Empower Your Team”
OK. I get it. Mr. Maxwell has cornered the market on the word “leader” by paying Amazon in order to squat on top of all other books on the topic.
But, lo and behold, what happens next?
While I am thankful, grateful, happy, pleased, if not over-joyed to see my darling book cited, it is followed by other titles that may or may not be relevant to my search.
In other words my book, Fables for Leaders, is used as a marketing magnet for readers to eyeball several other books. There’s
“Leadership Fables Every Leader and Manager Should Read”,
“Our Iceberg is Melting by John Kotter & Holger Rathgeber”,
and, not to be missed: “Leadership Fables: The Frog, The Crab, and The Monkey.”
Yes, I know. Amazon is selling books. You get to use their platform, so play by their rules.
But, this does smack more than a bit like Google’s monetizing the world’s “Information Desk” (That’s what Google aspires to become, taking anywhere from a quarter to a third of the library’s market share).
Is it fair? Not particularly so in an era when “never have so many written so much to be read by so few for free,” for the content providers.
Maybe it is time for Schools of Information Science to undertake research that explores the issues around the growing monopolization and shaping of information by Google, Facebook, and Amazon.
Specifically, what is the social cost when for-profits control search results and in some cases skew those results for profit motives
Similar to the “fake news” plague, someone other than the vendors (Amazon, Google, Facebook, even Twitter) needs to be exploring what these marketing strategies and policies mean for producers and consumers.
My book, Fables for Leaders, is mentioned in American Libraries by Karen Muller in "How We Lead.". Click here.

Fables for Leaders Library of the Week: Salem Public Library, OR, USA
Summary: "Short fables emphasizing the philosophical and ethical aspects of leadership."

© Copyright John Lubans 2018
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