Disruptive Innovation in Digital Publishing

Copyright lawyers think a lot about creative destruction and disruptive innovation, and as I mentioned in a recent post, I was surprised at a recent book publishing conference to hear publishers say that digital piracy is not necessarily their enemy if it puts more books in more hands and creates more of a market for paying customers over time.

In that vein, I was interested to read an entry on the blog of N.Y. Times bestselling Indie Y.A. author Tammara Webber relating to a situation where Amazon accidentally discounted her latest release to 99 cents as part of a promotion she hadn’t signed on for.  She was initially distraught at the error and the potential loss of profits, but as time wore on she decided to go with the flow (at least until the error could be corrected) and market the heck out of the discount price on various online networks, and try to attract readers who might not otherwise have bought the book.  She ended up still making a significant amount of money from sales – some of which she may not have obtained at the higher price – and the book’s ranking went up over 60 spots in Amazon’s ranking system.

You can read the full blog entry here.  It raises a lot of interesting aspects of the digital industry dynamics.  First, this is an author who favors writing/publishing independently over going the traditional route through a large publishing house, so one might expect her to be open to new marketing opportunities perhaps more readily than authors of works published through more traditional channels (and indeed the publishers themselves).  Second, it is interesting that despite her indie status, she had clear ideas of the value of the book and the market price for which she was initially prepared to sell it.  Finally, her readiness to be flexible when faced with something that caused her a problem and the way she was able to maximize the use of technology herself to make ‘lemonade’ out of what at first seemed to be a detrimental situation for her.