John Oakes of Or Books on Disintermediation

I’m currently researching a piece at the moment on control, disruption and discoverability in the publishing world, so I was certainly interested to come upon this piece by John Oakes of Or Books on Amazon and disintermediation which appeared late last week on Publishers Weekly. I’m all for large publishers embracing the digital revolution  in-house as well as developing external partnerships – to deal with the evolving demand for content and connection, but I’ve long argued that community needs to be the fundamental driver of the revolution. Whether you are Random House, Graywolf Press or Buffalo Creek Press –  that connection with community begins with your readers and authors. The process, platform and provider should not become your sole community. If it does, then you’ve missed the whole point of disintermediation. What we need is an industry that preserves the values of what a publisher should be; thereby bringing publisher closer to author, and publisher closer to reader.

Disintermediation should not be seen solely as a method of cost-cutting in the supply chain, but a way of reestablishing and acknowledging the customer within your community

For now, more from John Oakes of Or Books writing in Publishers Weekly:

“Yet Amazon, which has so neatly disintermediated physical bookstores and intimidated publishers, may carry within itself the formula for its own destruction. The one great service it provides is a comfortingly familiar Web site, a Web site that just a few years ago was unknown. And despite all its cash, its forays into publishing seem doomed, thanks to the hatred it engenders among rival stores and sites; it is likely that the fate of its publishing efforts will mirror that of Barnes & Noble’s. What is it selling? Its ability to sell. What if publishers were to sell e-books and print books direct, straight to consumers—and consumers were to get used to the idea of buying direct? Suddenly one can imagine Amazon becoming an anachronism, joining the lengthy list of publishing’s dying or extinct species.”

“At OR Books, which specializes in nonreturnable, prepaid sales straight to the consumer, we’ve found that, with some effort and increasing success, it’s possible to persuade readers to sidestep the still-young tradition of heading straight to Amazon for purchases. Such a prospect needn’t spell disaster for physical stores, either. Counterintuitively, our growing experience with direct sales has led us to re-examine our bookstore connections.”

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