The lockdown during the Corona crisis made it clear with all its force and at breakneck speed that it is essential for publishers to be able to sell online. Many publishers have relied on amazon as their main distribution channel. The fact that amazon will not order any books at all for a certain period of time during the crisis is now hitting these publishers particularly hard. So what can be done?

Let’s be honest: people are quite comfortable. That’s why for many customers amazon is the only online shop, because you can get everything there! This was never really true before, but in Corona times it‘s not true at all, as amazon now prefers to use its capacities for things of daily use. If you are looking for a book here that is no longer in stock (and is not being reordered at the moment), you will easily get the impression that the title is completely out of print. A fatal signal to the customers!

So other ways must be found to advertise and sell books. What can be done quickly?

Improve your online visibility

Nice book shop windows, interesting book magazines, curious bookmarks and so on unfortunately do not work in Corona times. Expensive ads in magazines are usually not an option. The alternative is the internet. ONLY? No – even more so! Get creative and create a Facebook page (if you don’t already have one), either for the whole publishimg house or for special titles or series. Place ads on Facebook. It’s quick and not expensive. Replace personal contact with personal recommendations, perhaps with regular small book recommendations via video, which you can then post back on Facebook. Find suitable book bloggers or become one yourself. Now is the opportunity to do the things you should have done in the first place, but never got the chance …

Professionalise communication

Newsletters are a perfect instrument for communication with customers, because they only subscribe to those which they are uinterested in. If you are already using a customer relationship management system, make sure you include it. If not, now is the opportunity to set up a CRM. In this way, you will get to know your customers better and better over time and can send out targeted information. If you have many subscribers, you can also use marketing automation tools. For example, automated mails can be sent to all buyers of title A when title B is published.

Whip your website into shape

The most fancy website is of no use if customers cannot find relevant information about the titles. It is the hour of metadata! A blurb text alone is usually not enough. Give a glance into the book, a sample chapter or something similar. And not only on your own website, but also make this information available to retailers for their platforms. You should also check how you can use the existing interfaces of your publishing software.

Create your own webshop – or better not?

Most publishers have already asked themselves this question. The advantages of having your own shop are obvious in the form of higher margins… On the other hand, having your own web shop also costs money and you don’t want to offend the extremely important partner book trade by competing with it. Many publishers have chosen a viable middle course here and lead from their websites to partner shops or – yes – amazon.

Admittedly, an own webshop is not something that can be set up in just a few days. Ideally, you should decide on a system to which your publishing software already offers an interface. However, there are still a lot of things to consider, such as calculating shipping costs, transferring orders to warehouse/logistics, order tracking, payment monitoring or dunning procedures.

Try out as many things as possible and just hang in there! Versatility will pay off in the end, even if the way is not an easy one.

(Photo by Mike Erskine on Unsplash)