What Publishers Can Learn from the Airlines

Book publishers are desperate for new business models. While standing in line at the airport recently, I thought maybe we could look to the airline industry for inspiration. If we did, here are some things you might see from publishers:

  • If you want to exchange one book for another, there’s a $25 change fee.
  • If you want to pre-order your book, there’s a $10 up charge for the privilege.
  • If you want to eat something while you are reading the book, you have to pay for it yourself. (Oh, I guess that’s already true.)
  • When opening or closing the book, you have to turn off all electronic devices.
  • You must pass through an electronic scanner before you can read the book.
  • If you buy a book over the weekend, the price will be higher.
  • Book prices will fluctuate depending on demand. The more a book sells, the higher the retail price.
  • Get comfortable: you won’t be able to stretch out your arms or your legs from the time you start reading till the time you stop.
  • If you are willing to pay more to stretch your legs, in case of an emergency, you may be asked to proofread the book.
  • If there is “overbooking”–selling more copies of the book than actually exist–the publisher will offer readers incentives to read something else.

Considering how well the airlines have done in recent years, maybe I’ve inspired you too. How else could publishers run their business like an airline?

Author: Andy Le Peau

I've been an editor and writer for over forty years. I am passionate about ideas and how we can express them clearly, beautifully, and persuasively. I love reading good books, talking about them, and recommending them. I thoroughly enjoy my family who help me continue on the path of a lifelong learner.

14 thoughts on “What Publishers Can Learn from the Airlines”

  1. Here’s an idea: They could include a little baggie with each book in case it somehow causes, um, turbulence. I’ve wanted that quite a few times, actually…

  2. And even though you bought 2 copies (1 for you and one for your spouse with whom you’re celebrating a wedding anniversary) 3 months in advance, you’ll have to wait until everyone else has read theirs before you can read yours, and you’ll have to sit 15 feet apart from each other while you’re reading.

    That’s what happened to a couple I know who flew from Los Angeles to Minneapolis this past weekend. I thought, Nice job, airlines. Nice job.

  3. And before you begin reading, you can be scientifically scanned and, if you look particularly suspicious,* you may be selected to be subject to an intimate frisking.

    *By “suspicious” in this context, we actually mean innocuous.

  4. If you want to carry anything else while reading your book you have to pay more.

    Despite the fact that it’s the same every time before you start reading any book you are forced to undergo training on how to remove yourself from the book in case it gets particularly dangerous, or there’s a significant plot twist or something.

    Every five minutes while reading your book someone interrupts you to see if you’d like to take out a mortgage to afford a frozen sandwich.

  5. Each book will sell for a different price based on a complicated formula involving its place on the shelf, which bookstore its in, the day of the week, hour of the day, and whether or not the purchaser belongs to any incentive programs or not. One book can sell for $4, the one next to it $35. Down the street at the other bookstore, you can get one in the 3rd position on the shelf for $16 if you belong to AAA.

    And occasionally, you’ll get an unexpected upgrade from paperback to hardcover because they ran out of paperback, or are just feeling generous that day.

  6. You can reserve your book, but the day it is released, the publisher may decide not to release it after all. You will be automatically assigned a different book, but it may be 500 pages longer than the one you ordered, and you will have to sit near a bathroom to read it.

  7. Oh, Charlene! And a beautiful headshot (of yours truly) it is! And shameless PR for an IVP book! Well, of course there is no shame ever in such a thing!

  8. You must either be a member of the Frequent Reader Club or pay an outrageous premium to look out a window occasionally while you’re reading or to be able to easily get up and go to the bathroom. And you’ll pay a whole lot extra to be able to stetch out and be comfortable during a long book, but we’ll let you read first and drink and eat free.

  9. I liked seeing Liesel’s peipsectrve because everything I read about this subject before was from a Jewish person or American soldier’s peipsectrve. It is interesting to see how kids grow up to form opinions and how people can only keep them to themselves so much. Sometimes it is too painful not to be kind! If you like this book, you should read The Red Scarf Girl too. It deals with similar issues for a girl coming of age in communist China who is torn between the values of her family and the values she is learning in school and society. This book also reminded me of Skellig in a way because I kept thinking that Max was like the weird, magical man who the kids found in the shed. If they do make it a movie, I hope that Jean-Pierre Jeunet directs it and it looks something like City of the Lost Children !

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