Print Vs. Technology: Is the Printed Book Dying a Slow Death?
Dean Lunt loves a good story. His favorites are the ones where the setting is the place he calls home.”I’m from Maine, I love Maine, there’s a lot of history,” he said as we sat down with him while visiting his publishing company in Yarmouth.Throughout his life, he’s assumed different roles as a storyteller with a background in marketing and as a newspaper reporter. In 1999, he decided to enter the publishing world and was once again inspired by his roots.”In the 1800′s, 1856, half of the island got together to become a town so they renamed the town of Frenchborrow to the town of Islandport and a year later the other town didn’t like the idea so they petitioned to change the name to dissolve the town of Islandport, so it’s this one year little blip where my town was called the town of Islandport.”That’s how Islandport Press was born.”We do 10-12 (books) a year, probably at least half of those are very Maine specific and the rest could be New Hampshire, Vermont.”Lunt says when he entered the business, it was hard to keep up with an industry set in its ways.But these days, mobile devices have written a different chapter for publishers.”One thing with eBooks is they’re eating away our bookstores, along with Amazon, which is reducing the number of outlets to have to sell the books.”Islandport Press is no exception.”For example, when I started this ten years ago, I would say sales of our books at bookstores that we sold to were probably 80%. We are now down to 20% or less, I mean 20% of books we sell are sold through bookstores, down 80% 8 years ago, that’s how much the industry has changed.”Ushering in a new era of competition.”It’s tougher for smaller companies to be seen in the eBook world because you go into a bookstore and you’re a small company, you go to the Maine section and you can look in the books and see them. You go to Amazon.com, BN.com, there are millions of books, how are you going to get your book which people might not be looking for to know about it.”Lunt and his team expanded their brand to ebooks last year including a presence in social media.”We’ve opened up Twitter handles, we have Facebook pages, we have blogs, we have websites”The digital age has also created a new form of marketing Lunt calls non-traditional advertising.”We had a book called Mercy. It’s a book about vampires. We did the launch at a cemetery in Portland to make it an event, we had cemetery tours, it was a rainy it was a book but it was non-traditional.”While the means may be non-traditional, Lunt believes the traditional paperback book won’t dissolve completely.”You’ll always have your print books. eBooks will have to supplement that so you’re going to have an avenue for both, books can’t survive on one alone.”Recently, popular bookstores like borders and Mr. Paperback have shut their doors because of low sales.Books-n-Things in Bethel announced Monday it will close its doors on June 30 after 16 years in business. The owner says it’s time for a change and she plans to try selling new and used books online.