Keeping pace: Adapting to change

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Some businesses are nearly timeless.  Others must navigate rapidly changing technological and social environments.  The AEC community of course, has a combination of both circumstances.  Certain traditional crafts and trades are enjoying a resurgence — especially with heritage restorations and renovations — while architects, engineers and contractors need to navigate BIM when a few years ago they lived with drafting boards.

Journalism and publishing are now experiencing their own revolutions as electronic media displace and revise the rules of the game.  Just months ago, the E-book marketplace has seriously impacted traditional book publishing and retailing, to the point that large and successful retailers (as well as local independents) are feeling the pinch.  We know what happened to the old music-record-CD stores and publishers.

Life can be hard if you are caught in an environment of sudden and radical change, especially if you’ve built your business on old methodologies which seemed to work well for decades or even longer.  Equally, if you are nimble and resourceful, you can capture the new opportunities and preserve and enhance your business.  If you organize things well, you can straddle the change — keeping the “old” in place for clients who wish it that way while developing new options and alternatives which create additional markets without harming your existing business.

This can be challenging at times, however.

Consider, for example, the new rules of the game in book publishing and the consequences for my Construction Marketing Ideas book.

I priced the title at $40 and set it up with the standard trade discounts, which allows Amazon.com and other discounters to sell it for $30.00 or less while I retain my wholesale profit.

I also offered on my own website an electronic PDF version for $20.00, reflecting the obviously lower production and distribution costs but allowing for the underlying intellectual property value.  (You are most free to sample this blog but if you want 192 indexed pages of my ideas, you should pay at least $20!)

But Amazon.com has dictated that on the Kindle store you cannot sell a book for more than $10.00 without great penalty.  They’ve presumably decided that $10.00 is a magic price point for electronic books.  I’m not going to argue with them, but equally, you should be able to see that my own compensation would be a whole lot less at $10 than $20 or $40 retail.

So, what to do . . .

I broke the book into two volumes, rewrote a few paragraphs, requested separate ISBN numbers for each book, and am preparing to republish the book in two volumes electronically, for $9.89 each.  If you purchase the book this way through the Apple Store, Kindle, or any other online retailer, you’ll receive the same content for about the same price as if you purchased the book electronically from me.

My approach may not be the only correct one.  I’ve seen at least one publisher take his book, for which he charges a significant fee in print form, and put it online for free.  He is doing this, presumably, to attract readership and inquiries for his consulting business.  His approach may be wise, but I prefer to take a more nuanced approach.  You can read this blog and my weekly newsletter for free but you will only receive the book without charge if you are a current client or can influence others to purchase it.  The book retains its value, then.

I’ll post the links and references to the new online sources for the book within the next few weeks.  In the meantime, if you click on the book logo you can learn more (that part is free) and if you wish, order a copy for yourself.

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