Publishing as a niche business – Part II

Part I of Publishing as a niche business looked at the notion of niche businesses and the challenges facing all players – from writers to readers – in the world of publishing. Today’s post continues with a series of questions. Here’s a repeat of a diagram from yesterday’s post.

Publishing - a niche business

Questions to consider

  • Perhaps one question is whether publishers are adjusting their strategies to tackle challenges of profitability and lack of consumer data in an effective fashion?
  • Another question, how should authors adjust their strategies to take advantage of niche publishers? It seems to me that publishers have buffered themselves from authors – except their own stable of authors – and consumers; the one through agents, the other through retailers. Could cooperation strategies link authors and publishers in a more symbiotic relationship through well defined niches? Can authors capture their own consumer data?

Which publishers operate successful niche strategies? Harlequin comes to mind as a publisher with presence in the mind of consumers.  Hay House concentrates on self-help and inspirational books, Osprey’s focus is military history books, Chelsea Green’s focus is the politics and practice of sustainable living. I’m sure there are many more examples. With such specific focus come strategic alliances, marketing strategies, author support, distribution arrangements, conference participation and other tactics that are different from broadly based publishers like Hachette or Random House.

To add to the list of questions:

  • Are these niche players more sustainably profitable than the famed ‘Big 6′ players in publishing?
  • If you write content in the markets they serve, can you develop a different kind of relationship with these niche players?
  • How will or should the roles of literary agents change?
  • Will sites like Goodreads and Amazon change the way reviews are submitted, adding some level of scrutiny to avoid drivel and abusive behaviour?

Just to leave you with one further thought – the adjacent diagram occurred in a post about reader-writer relationships.

Here’s the question: how should publishers insert themselves into the interconnectivity mix in order to add distinct value?

I’m sure I’ve missed many other insights and of course asked more questions than answered. Perhaps these two posts will spark some dialogue.

Favourite Reading Sites come in all flavours

I reported on the favourite reading oriented sites in the middle of February. Today’s post looks at the list of sites by category: reading sites, social media, retailers, blogs dedicated to historical fiction, genre sites, general book review blogs, author sites, industry sites and so on. The variety of this ‘reading ecosystem’ is phenomenal.

With my friend Excel at my side, I’ve gone through all named sites (696 in total) and classified them. Admittedly, this is my own classification scheme but I think it has merit.

As you can see in the All blogs category, blogs are a favourite vehicle to share book reviews and other book related information. Count refers to the number of different sites mentioned while Impact is the total mentions for that category. For example, a blog like Reading the Past is only counted once in the Count column, but given that 47 people included it as a favourite, 47 is added into the Impact total.

Favourite reading sites (1)

In the next group, we can see the role retailers play. Amazon accounts for 306 of the 419 Impact total.

Favourite sites (2)

A final group includes social media and reading sites like Goodreads. If we group reading sites with social media, the total impact score is 1768.

Favourite sites (3)

After cleansing the data as much as I could, 696 different sites remained of which 500 were mentioned by only one person. In 106 cases, the survey participant was insufficiently specific for me to categorize his or her entry.

What’s of most interest to me is YOUR thoughts on what all this means for readers and writers. 

Favourite reading oriented sites – Readers Choice

M.K. Tod’s 2013 historical fiction survey asked readers to name their “top 3 reading oriented websites, blogs and social media sites”. In other words, where do people go for information and discussion to enhance their reading. The answers are in:

2013 Favourite Online Reading SitesGoodreads is way out in front with 907 mentions followed by Facebook, Amazon, Twitter and Historical Novel Society.

Interestingly, when readers mention Facebook they often qualify their response by mentioning a favourite group, author, fan page or the Facebook page associated with a blog.

Compared with 2012, Twitter has leapt ahead and I am delighted to see the Historical Novel Society featured so strongly.

Over 675 sites were mentioned. That’s an amazing number of sources for readers to peruse!


When I have more time, I will attempt to aggregate some of the numbers so I can report on different categories such as small book review blogs, sites dedicated to historical fiction, author blogs, library sites and so on.