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New Distribution technique for Authors & Small press publishers


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Here is the idea:


It could be financed by a collective of authors, small press and bookstores to run a test on this idea.  Maybe Troy could afford to try it from his location under aalbc as the vendor. We'll need a digital vending machine able to store MP3 files and Pdf or epub files, either full copies or samples of audio books or ebooks that customers can download into their iphones, ipads or labtops using a usb storage device.  It may be better, cheaper, safer, to use a sample rather than have a vending machines that takes money because you'll need to service it and maybe those cost more.  These can be placed in places where people are most likely to read, Barbershops, Beauty parlors--maybe Sweeties Pies--these could be the easiet places to test the idea. Then the customer trys out a chapter, either audio or ebook and has a link to the publisher or the author's website--they go there and through pay pal or whatever pay for the full product there--thus the website brings in visitors.  You get the hits and responses you need without too much cost and loss. It will be good too if this net neutrality thing goes through and giant companies can move their product over the net faster than unknowns. This idea can also work for films and music videos. In some ethnic restraunts you see these little booths with ethnic movies and music by local or unknowns. It's like those small audio samplers in the stores to sample records or cd.  Maybe they can be bought cheaply. 


Well that's it. Let me know what you think, thumps up or down.


How did I get this idea. Well I remembered this guy was selling his comics via his own vending machines, but I was trying to suggest to him he could sell other people's comics as well--better comics--of course, to get his machines and use them, you had to sell his comics only. He took offense at what I was hinting at and the discussion ended.  I think he was selfish but he was right in a way--it's better for him to distribute only his material rather have the competition of maybe better comics. If we can share this idea as authors and small publishers we can at least offer our works to a public. It will be up to them to take an interest in whatever cover or blurb appeals to them enough to read a sample or listen to a sample or watch a movie clip and then get online to  download the full version.  You just have to rent the space and don't have to service it and it won't contain private information to worry about. Just a free sampler like those that give out free newspapers.

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I'd be interested in hearing Troy's response.  If you haven't already noticed, wc, I will tell you that this site is frequented almost exclusively by lurkers, many of whom are not writers but simply people who check in to check out the occasional comments on subjects of interest from harry brown and Troy and me. LOL True,  it was once a lively place where many posters chimed in, arguing and adding their 2-cents to the dialogs about a variety of subjects.  Currently there is very little input from the public, mostly because the discussion forum is not as popular as it once was.  So. I don't anticipate that you will get much of a response to your idea here.


Personally, I don't know.  It might work if you can get writers to check their egos and come together and pool their resources.  It should be noted, however,  that  the Internet, itself, has a lot of outlets where individuals can post a sample chapter of their book, including right here on this site.( Anybody with an inclination to read is probably on line.) And many authors just create their own web page for this purpose, while others are bloggers who will utilize that format to plug their books.  But, - what do I know? Nothing beats a trial but a failure!


And don't place a lot of weight on my reaction because my book writing days are over.  I don't plan to pen any more novels, so I'm not looking for outlets.    

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WC, I like the way you think.  Solution driven.  I also appreciate your contributions here as well.  It is probably worth emphasizing Cynqiue's point about this discussion forum; lurkers (visitors who read but don't post), were always the majority of visitors to this forum.  However over the last few years poster activity has decreased dramatically.  


In many ways this is reflective of broader changes in the book industry.


It is also worth emphasizing that "Net Neutrality" is a fight between the owners of the web and has nothing to do with small indie websites like mine.  We lost what little power we had on the web years ago.  Many of us have been duped into believing social media has compensated what was lost.  


AALBC.com is literally the oldest, largest, and most frequently visited website, on planet Earth, dedicated to Black Literature.  This is not because I'm good at what I do; it is because all of the other sites are been beaten into obscurity or out of business.  I spend about 25% of my time advocating for entities most would consider competitors but my survival depends upon an rich environment for Black books and one man, no matter how impassioned and dedicated, with a few websites, can not create this environment this alone.


Now to your point.  I like the idea and there are a number of ways to execute this; one could simply have palm cards with QR codes that people can scan with their smart phone for a free download sample.  These cards could be placed in all of the venues you've described and the proprietor could be given a cut of any resulting sales.  Again, this is one method and it is not particularly creative as it has been done umpteen times before


The problem with it would simply be one of execution:


Few of us have the free time, energy, money or ability to do this.  The best and brightest of us of use our abilities to serve corporations or ourselves.   I really did not appreciate this until I became a full-time entrepreneur.  We simply do not have the infrastructure necessary to create an environment in which Black owned businesses can grow over the long term.


I've seen the example of your comic book vending guy countless times.  His reaction does not surprise me.  Indeed it might even have been rationale from his perspective of making money for himself.


But that mentality results in an environment where a few of us have a ton of money but most of us are struggling.  


In the last couple of years however I have noticed there has been more activity of businesses working together.  This is largely borne out of necessity, as individual realize they need to work with others to grow.  This does bode well for a positive future.


I will pitch a variation of your idea to others over the next few months.


We work together or we die alone.

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Well, you guys shocked me there. I really thought this place was hot with conversation. I noticed that the two black fiction forums I'm a member of have died off in terms of posts and conversations. Sometimes those places become places just to self promote.  It's as if authors can only find other authors to read their books.  Well Cynique, you must've finished your memoirs then?  I bet you'll want to write something in the near future.  Once a writer always a writer. There is certainly some excellent writing here for some sort of collection, reflections on this and that. I just found the spellchecker on this thing!


Well, I'm glad you two at least are here to read my rants and crazy ideas and speak-writing before I actually think sometimes.  Touch typing does that. Troy, please do see if others would join you in doing something with some version of this idea. I know it's not quite new with the movie kiosks in the supermarkets but everyone seems tied to their devices so maybe books will have to move away from print, though I love printed books.  I hope it helps and you of all people can put it to good use instead of for just purely bottom line commercial purposes. I can see that there might be some risk in it, but maybe it's worth taking.  I wouldn't have any money to invest in it though. 


I was wondering if some of us shouldn't appeal to some of our wealthy black sports figures to open manufacturing businesses of some sort in the inner cities, like the Sistrunk area in Broward. Al Sharpton could call them out  publicly. Not just stores to sell expensive footwear but jobs that could make something that will bring in the tax monies needed for the schools.  Lebron James could invest some of that money he's getting into a business to benefit both himself and the less fortunate black community. But if he's not even loyal really to any state, I guess you can't expect much of that from him. He dumped Miami to go back to Ohio so much for loyalty or a sense of real community. 


We work together or we die alone.  It's like Paul Robeson singing that song about All for One and One for All.  Maybe someday human beings will realize it.



Years ago In my research for vending machines for comics, I saw online that craziest uses for vending machines were in Japan--I think this was before USB storage devices came out--I don't recall seeing any digital machines at all.  They vend the weirdest things.  I don't even want to mention one thing I heard that they vended. I'm fascinated by the Japanese and did a lot of research about them over a number of years because they are the only technologically advanced people still with some of their pagan mindset intact.  Really unique. They do have some issues though.  If Africa was as advanced as Japan in terms of technology--here's another crazy idea, parts of Africa may be a great place to invest in Solar energy businesses.


I think I might have run of bright ideas now...this was my big eureka moment I must tell you, so I'm glad you see potential in it however small.


Thanks for caring and taking the time. You too Cynique. Well, until next time...

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I enjoyed our exchanges, WC, and hope you won't make a stranger of yourself.  Stick around! 


I think about writing a memoir from time to time.  The only problem is that the most compelling experiences of my life would not be for public consumption.  ;)

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