Friday, July 1, 2011

California verus Amazon - Who Will Win? Technology and Changes in Self-Publishing

The state of California has gone after Amazon, and other on-line affiliate businesses, in an effort to generate tax revenue. Amazon has responded by thumbing its nose at California and canceling its relationship with the on-line vendors involved. For an excellent post complete with excerpts of statements by parties involved, visit The Publishing Maven's blog.

Over and over I have read if you want to draw readers to your blog, state something controversial. At the risk of offending any readers (they say never discuss politics and religion) here goes.

Governments, all of them, need to learn to live within their means. That means spend less or no more than what you take in. The rest of us have to live in this manner or face the consequences and our governments, local, state and national, all need to do the same. If you want to spend more money on one item, you have to spend less somewhere else. Living on a budget requires you operate in this manner.

The politicians in California, and everywhere else, I am fairly sure are surprised by Amazon's reaction. They shouldn't be. If someone poked me with a sharp object I would move quickly to remove myself from the general area of the person poking me. Businesses react the same way when it comes to costs the business operator can avoid or feels are cumbersome.

As to the brick and mortar stores who have trouble competing with Amazon, I say this, create your own on-line presence and develop a niche market that you serve best. Create loyal customers through fantastic service and make sure your products are quality. Work to create more customers through word-of-mouth advertising. In the case of book sellers, use Amazon to help sell your books or other products. The man in the brown truck is your friend! UPS is in the business of helping small businesses deliver their products quickly and efficiently.

Technology changes things in big ways. It is a historical fact. The arrival of first the railroad and then the automobile spelled the end of the horse and buggy as a common means of transportation. Machine guns and barbed wire changed how Europeans engaged in land warfare, resulting in the horrible slaughter of trench warfare in World War I. The personal computer and the internet has changed the world in profound ways and will continue to do so. The only real certainty is change will happen.

Technology has made self-publishing a viable business model today. While some of the stigma of self-publishing still remains, the powerful combination of Amazon, B&N,  the print-on-demand technology and business model, excellent and relatively easy to learn to use software and the recent development, acceptance and surge in e-book readers has made the world of self-publishing one in flux.

Within five to ten years, the world of publishing as it is now known will not exist. Those publishers who do not adapt to the new reality will go the way of the buggy maker. Those who do, will prosper.

Government needs to learn to adapt as well. Regardless of the political party in control of the government entity, governments must learn to spend less than the amount of revenue taken in. Tax increases are not the answer. Learning to operate like a business and being financially efficient are. If a government entity offers a service, it should be of a quality as high, or higher, than what private enterprise can or would offer. Why higher? Because the taxpayer has no say in whether or not to purchase the service. The private consumer does. Therefore, the service must be of a high quality since it is being imposed on the "consumer."