Monday, March 16, 2009

Already have a book? Now consider a spin-off.

In February I launched a self-pubbed book called Phone Systems & Phones for Small Business & Home. It's a big book, with tons of information on nearly 400 pages, and a 29.95 price tag.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble discount it to about $27. I think the information in the book is worth a lot, but I recognize that in a recession even $27 is a lot for a book.

A week ago I launched an abridged version called The AbleComm Guide to Phone Systems. (AbleComm is the name of my primary business. It sells phone systems.)

The smaller book has 216 pages and a $19.95 cover price. Basically, it offers about half as much content for two thirds the price of the bigger book. I wanted the numbers to favor the bigger book, but still offer a good book for under twenty bucks.

Am I afraid that the $19.95 book will cannibalize business from the $29.95 book?

No. There is so much more information in the big book that I expect it to appeal to a different audience and probably outsell the little book. I did a major PR campaign for the big book but am not paying to promote the little book. There's even a page in the little book that tells about the additional material in the big book.

My original plan was to produce the little book as a "self-liquidator" promotional device for my phone equipment business. I offer it on my company's websites, and to callers who are interested in a phone system but are not quite ready to buy.

Since it's printed by Lightning Source, it's listed on Amazon, B&N and other bookseller websites. B&N is discounting it to $17.95. Amazon still has it at full price.

I'll sell it for just $10 including shipping. I'm not losing money at half of Amazon's price. I actually make about as much as I'd get as a royalty from a traditional publisher on a $30 book -- and the money comes in immediately.

I also offer a complete refund to anyone who buys a book and then buys a phone system. I'll gladly give away a book that costs me a few bucks to print to someone who'll spend a few thousand. And even after the sale, the book may get passed around as a powerful advertising piece for my company.

I realize that I'm in a somewhat unusual position as both a writer and a business owner who has an additional sales channel for my books.

But even if you don't have a business that can sell and benefit from your books, if you think about it, you'll probably realize that there are several likely businesses that could distribute a different version of a book you've already written.

If you've written about home decor or cosmetics, a private-label customized version of your book might be a good give-away for a furniture store, or maybe it could be sold in beauty salons. Using Print-On-Demand, the risk is small.

Invest some brain time.

1 comment:

  1. That's a terrific idea. I can think of lots of non-book-stores that might sell my book about bread baking, especially if it has the store name on the cover.

    Manufacturers are a possibility, too. Maybe I could do a small version that could be given as a freebie with baking pans or a dough mixer.