Permission Based Publishing: The New York Publishing Model (and Why It Doesn’t Work)

eBook…Bookish is a great example of this. Bookish took two years to launch and was started by Penguin Publishing as a portal to share books. The problem with this site is the restrictions. While it’s a great idea in principle, the reason it will never hit the success of a Goodreads or a Library Thing is one element: control. Everything about Bookish is controlled by the publishing industry, there is limited freedom like you’d see on any other site that is reader-driven. When Amazon bought Goodreads and the collective question in the industry was, “Why didn’t a publisher step in and do this?” the answer was simple: control. You can create guidelines and rules, but you can’t control a site like Goodreads nor would you want to. Readers made this site what it is. They get to choose the books they want to add (gasp, even if they are self-published), while Bookish offers restrictive book listings that are subject to change/modification only by Penguin. Imagine if Goodreads had only been limited to focusing on traditionally published authors. I can hear the crickets now.

This is what I call Permission Based Publishing and it simply doesn’t work anymore, yet publishers continue to hang onto it like the life-preserver it no longer is. Why do they do this? Do they want to fail? No, they don’t. Like any industry they want to succeed, the problem is, it’s all they know. Often we’ll do eBook campaigns with authors and I find that when we do these, it’s great to give away copies of the book for either one day or five days. When I push this idea to publishers you can’t imagine how much they struggle with this idea. How can you control something if you give it away? Guess what? You can’t and that’s a good thing.

Here are some things, right off the bat that publishers need to work on:

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