If you’ve been keeping up with any of Pubsoft’s previous posts, you know the importance of having a direct sales channel has been referenced several times. One of the more successful instances of a direct sales channel is J.K. Rowling, who implemented a direct sales channel for Pottermore and the Harry Potter e-books. In doing so, Rowling was able to have more control over her content while building relationships with her readers directly—something that is a bit more difficult to do when you’re at the mercy of publishing platforms with too much control. Something else Rowling has done is completely eliminate the need for DRM. Because she has seen how innovation in publishing can give her an edge with her reader base.
Why Implement a Direct Sales Channel?
As a publisher, especially in this new digital world, you want to maximize your resources as much as possible. Using a direct sales channel helps keep you and your authors connected to readers and builds a relationship with your customers that cuts out the middleman and makes it easier for your readers to purchase content.
A direct sales channel is also a good way to create a community with readers, again as Rowling did for Pottermore. By creating a direct sales channel that not only gave her readers exclusive access to things but was also interactive, Rowling set an example that publishers should be falling over themselves to recreate. Joe Wikert of O’Reilly TOC agrees that implementing a strong direct sales channel should be one of the highest priorities for a publisher.
“The shift from print to digital means publishers can be less reliant on retailers. Retailers are still an important partner, of course,” says Wikert, “but the direct channel brings many additional benefits. For example, establishing a direct sales channel is the best way to learn what your customers really want.”
What Counts as a Direct Sales Channel?
Yes, this is the digital age and the era of the e-book, but a direct sales channel doesn’t necessarily have to be online. Direct sales are any sales made directly. They are not just online sales—they include many avenues, whether that means in-person sales or not.
In an interview podcast with Bob Pritchett, the CEO of Logos Bible Software, Joe Wikert discussed the various ways that Logos implemented a direct sales channel. Pritchett said that Logos sells directly to their customer base through a lot of different channels, including online while maintaining a web presence, through phone sales. and in person at conferences.
The Innovation of a Direct Sales Channel Approach
This is why it’s important for publishers to attend industry events: it is a major step in building relationships with customers and creating a community of readers that will flock to the direct sales channel.
And Jason Illian, of Bookshout, thinks that direct sales and community building will help establish a backbone for “a number of creative marketing and sales opportunities [that] can be unlocked.”
“It’s an un-siloed approach and it naturally begins to solve some problems like discoverability,” says Illian. “Some publishers are already dabbling in this, but too many are still in the sidelines. It’s time to get into the game.”
Remaining innovative at this stage in the publishing game is what is going to keep publishers from going extinct. And implementing a direct sales channel is a necessary innovation that will pay off long after the dust settles in the publishing industry.