Books And Apps

A few weeks ago, Alex Payne, CTO of Simple, wrote a post titled How Not To Sell Software in 2012.

In the post, Payne berates wide swaths of the software industry for their gatekeeper sales practices, convoluted product explanations and the intolerable distance between the customer and someone who can really help answer technical questions about the product. “[I]t should be as easy as humanly possible to try it, pay for it, and start using it…” Payne says.

In looking at Payne’s list of Don’ts, I wondered what sorts of things the book publishing industry might be doing that causes similar grief among customers.

  • Books are made of code that is designed to solve a problem, whether that is entertainment, navigation or skill-building. The code is complicated and requires a specific cranial device but the file size is small. Being able to start using the code right now to solve my problem is expected. If not, I will look to other sources.
  • Amazon has made it simple to buy books. I press one button and the digital file shows up in 60 seconds or the paper device shows up in two days. No one else comes close to this speed of how quickly I want to use the code contained in books in my life.
  • Books are hard to sample the quality of the code and the promise in the marketing copy often fails to translate in the book itself. The introduction and first chapter to almost every book should be available everywhere, including when I am standing in front of the shelf at the bookstore and I want to read the beginning of a book on another device.
  • Maybe what is included in the sample should change. Joe Wikert has all sorts of thoughts like including the index.
  • On a standard publisher’s website, you might have the option to buy the book, and beyond cover art and a book description that is all you can find about the book. What if I just want more information now or to get an email remainder when the book comes out? Adding a Kickstarter-like Remind Me button wouldn’t seem all that hard and then publishers could start a conversation with readers.
  • There are times when I often want to give the author and the publisher more money. I would gladly pay more for a collectible edition or a further extension of the book I just read. The trick here is that this normally after I read the book and am fully bought in. Sadly, there is no mechanism to capture the value of that newly generated enthusiasm.

What I am missing? How could buying a book be more like buying an app?

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