By Callie Oettinger | Published: November 22, 2013
Pulled out of national store chains years ago because they made her eat large quantities of unsold books . . .
Severed her relationship with Amazon this year out of frustration over its discounting of her products.
Sells via partnerships with companies like Lakeshore Learning and a network of home-based sellers called Ambassadors.
Marched into the digital age with its award-winning Barefoot World Atlas app for the iPhone and iPad, already downloaded 4 million times.
(Side note: That app is currently priced at $4.95 on iTunes. Multiply that by just one million downloads and it’s a nice revenue stream.)
Fortune positioned the story as a David vs. Goliath story, of Barefoot Books against Scholastic, with the challenge of “finding the right way to sell children’s books.”
The bigger challenge for publishers and authors is finding multiple revenue streams.
Barefoot Books didn’t rely on other publishers’ formulas for selling books.That’s step one. Then there’s step two, which in this example is the app, offering another revenue stream and branding opportunity for the company.
Step three would be along the lines of repackaging older titles for re-release, a la the announcement of the Bob Dylan collection announced this week. About fifty years after the release of “Like A Rolling Stone”— Dylan made headlines after the interactive video paired with the classic song was released. The video reinforced my love of Dylan and my hate of today’s TV programming, with the voice of art being the voice of reason throughout the video. I don’t know if Dylan had anything to do with the video or if it was his music label’s doing, but the video got people talking and checking out the packaging of:
• All 41 official albums, including 14 newly remastered titles
• A 2CD compilation of songs not included on the original albums
• All the original artwork reproduced
• Hardcover booklet with extensive liner notes and rare photos
I have most of his albums, but… newly remastered . . . And a compilation of songs not included on the original albums . . .
Though I haven’t yet fed Dylan’s addition revenue stream this week, I did give to another.
This week I found myself standing in line for Harry Potter “Forever” stamps at the post office—fifteen years after my godmother hooked me on the series, which led to me sneaking away from my boss’s Book Expo booth to grab Potter swag every year a new book was released. A series that started with a boy living in the cupboard under the stairs has turned into a powerhouse of revenue streams, bringing in new readers from younger generations. There’s the books, yes, but there’s so much more.
The same holds true in other arenas, too. That local gym? The one with special programs for seniors, camps in the summer and after-school programs for kids, unique classes and hours for parents, and so on? One gym, multiple revenue streams. Could have stopped with the basic membership and left it at that.
Magdalene, an organization based out of Nashville, which helps women, comes to mind as an example in the arena of social enterprise. Magdalene launched Thistle Farms, which employs graduates of Magdalene and creates a line of handmade products that are “as good for the earth as for the body.” The organization then launched the Thistle Stop Cafe, which creates “food as good for the body as it is for the earth.” One organization. One goal. Multiple ways to help the women who are a part of achieving that goal.
So for each writer and publisher and artist and entrepreneur and whomever/whatever else . . . the challenge isn’t just finding the right way to sell books or albums or artwork or a business, it’s finding ways to create additional revenue streams, via apps, repackaging, licensing, bundling and other options, to create longer legs for their work.
I can hear the echoes of suffering artist pals from college saying revenue streams are for sell-outs. The art is more important. Yes . . . Art is important, but so is eating and paying the rent or mortgage. And while multiple revenue streams won’t buy you happiness, they will —as Steve wrote in a recent “Writing and Money” post—buy you another season.