Friday, June 7, 2013

My Wal-Mart Glimpse into the Future

   Just so you know, this post isn’t going to be a rant on Wal-Mart’s business practices, or on the people that shop there (I sometimes do myself) or that the Walton family heirs are on the top 20 richest people in the world list.

   It’s about the future.

   Recently my posts have been about how the job market has changed, how the economy has changed and how the middle class employee is being made obsolete.

   I was in Wal-Mart the other day purchasing a 6 pack of beer when I noticed that approximate 1/3 of the cashier aisles had been closed off and the machines removed.

   I asked a Wal-Mart employee about it and she explained that those manned cashier aisles were being replaced by automatic checkout machines. For those unfamiliar, they are computerized machines that you, as the purchaser, run the bar code of the product past the barcode reader, which tallies up your bill. Then you pay by inserting your card or cash into the machine.

   These eight new machines will replace 7 cashiers (one will remain to oversee the process and to punch in the code when a customer wants to buy alcohol or tobacco products.)

   How many of you remember gas station attendants? When was the last time you saw one?

   Those cashiers will be losing their jobs. (In fact, when I asked my cashier if she was concerned that her job was being phased out, she was stunned, obviously not having considered the possibility. Then she said, “Well, I’m the best cashier they have on the line, they won’t be replacing me.”

   I believe that paraphrased line was once said by one John Henry, the Steel Driving man.

   I am in the process of creating two new Ari Publishing websites. The first one will focus on supplying new authors with the knowledge, products, software and marketing tools they’ll need to get their books in the hands of new readers.

   There are too many Print on Demand and vanity press scams that con new authors into thinking that by signing with them, their novel will miraculously rocket to the top of the best seller lists.

   It won’t. In fact, in order to make any money at all the author has to sell it at an unrealistically high price. In addition the product is poorly produced, has a cookie cutter cover and ordinary graphics. At the new Ari Publishing website we’ll show them how to produce a novel they can be proud of and sell at fair market value.

   And regarding the publishing industry itself, well, the sales statistics are beyond grim; in reality you can almost hear it’s death knell. Here are some of the stats following the introduction of the electronic reader from the American Association of Publishers (AAP): 

   In February 2007 adult hardcover sales were $111.9 million. It dropped steadily over the next few years until February 2011 where it hit a record low of $46.2 million. Paperbacks have dropped as drastically from $128.8 million in 2006 to $81 million in 2011. Mass market books have plummeted 50% since 2008!

   On the other hand during the 2012 holiday season, purchases of electronic reading devices DOUBLED. Ebook sales have more than made up the difference with audio books rapidly gaining market share. In 2013 ebooks and audio books sold more copies (downloads) than hardcover, paperback and mass market books combined!

   The reasons are obvious. If you’re stuck inside on a dreary day with nothing to read, you’re out of luck. With an electronic reading device you can instantly download nearly any book you want. If the print is too small, with a book, you are again out of luck. With an ebook you simply push a button to increase print size. 

   If you have to drive somewhere, the book gets closed. With an ebook reader like Kindle you simply switch to narrate and the kindle electronic voice will read the book to you as you drive. Want to lay on the couch and read? After a few minutes your arms start giving out under the weight of that hardcover. Kindles and Nooks weight less than most paperbacks and are less than ¼ inch thick.

   My point? If you are seriously considering a career as a author, you’ll have a far better chance at breaking into the industry if you have garnered a loyal following with your inexpensive self-published ebook than you will with any POD or vanity press novel especially if you’re an unknown trying to catch a break.

   I’ll give out the link when the site opens and I hope all my writing buddies will stop by and look around.  

   The second site will be constructed to help those who have been downsized and haven’t been able to secure another well-paying steady job. There, anyone who wants to learn how to sell products over the internet can learn how. I recently did a 10 part series that was so well received, I’ve decided to make it a regular thing.

   One last note. Thanks to all of you that downloaded Storytime over the past few days. I hope you enjoy it as much as all the other readers did, and if you do, please write a quick review here:

  Talk to you soon,