Part 2 of Marketing Tips for Consultants Series — B2M, Growth and Visibility for Niche Consultancies


Please join us for the second webinar in this series, presented by ‘Kahshanna Evans’, Director of Public Relations for Kissing Lions Public Relations.     Thursday, April 17th @11:00am (EDT) — Register (free) Here.
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“B2M, Growth and Visibility for Niche Consultancies.” 

Presenter’s Note: 
B2M, Growth and Visibility for Niche Consultancies will explore media strategy as it relates to visibility for owner operated small businesses and independent, highly specialized consultants. B2M will be introduced; a concept that will support small consultancies in better understanding essential steps for visibility as it relates to media and growth will be introduced. Topics will include content, social media, small business resources and media habits that support visibility. Estimated 40 minute presentation followed by a Zintro moderated Q&A. 

Thursday, April 17th @11:00am (EDT) — Register (free) Here

About Kahshanna Evans: 
Founder of Kissing Lions Public Relations, Kahshanna Evans, brings the skills she developed working for over a decade in communication, wellness, fashion and both sides of the camera to her approach to publicity and professionalism. Two decades of working closely with top names in film and television, advertising and fashion influence her sense of brand-telling for niche and emerging brands in business, design, wellness and philanthropy. Ms. Evans has recently launched PR in the Happiness Economy, an educational workshop with ongoing enrollment to help clients review media strategy. 

 

Saving Money on Marketing Research


Guest post by Zintro Expert Bob-Kaden

You decide to conduct a research study.  With objectives clearly defined you contact three research suppliers to get competitive quotes.  All three come back with roughly the same approach to conducting the research.  And all three quotes make you choke.

You might think your only choices are to pay the going rate, lower your cost by compromising on the quality of the research or forgetting about the research altogether.

But assuming you are intent on conducting the research as planned, the good news is you can save money by either taking a more active role in completing the research or by negotiating with research suppliers.  Here’s how!

Understanding Supplier Pricing

In general, there are two types of research companies.  There are full-service research suppliers that provide research planning services, project execution and control and analytical services.   And there are field-service suppliers whose primary function is to provide the actual data needed to address the research objectives.

Full-service suppliers will give project specifications to a number of field-services.  This includes the type of study they wish to conduct, the anticipated length of the questionnaire, the profile and number of respondents they wish interviewed and the manner in which they want to collect data.

Field-services, in turn, price their data collection services to their full-service supplier clients, who then mark up those services when quoting their price to you.  If you become the direct client of the field-service supplier, you will save this markup.

Saving Money on Focus Groups

When it comes to focus groups, full service research suppliers typically markup field service quotes by 50%.  You can save this markup by contracting directly for focus group field service fees associated with:

  • Renting a facility where the focus groups will be conducted
  • Recruiting costs associated with screening the right respondents for your study and making sure that they show up at the right time.
  • Monetary incentives to respondents for participating
  • Refreshments, food, videotaping or other material costs necessary to complete the project

The focus group service will charge both you the full-service supplier the same.  If, for example you want to conduct four focus groups, the field service cost might be £5000.  By contracting for these relatively simple tasks yourself you’ll save £2,500, or the 50% full-service supplier markup.

If you don’t have a moderator you’ve worked with, ask the focus group facility you plan to use for recommendations and get a number of competitive quotes for the professional fee the moderators will charge.

To find a focus group facility in the London area click http://www.greenbook.org/). Otherwise, Google “Focus Group Facilities for whatever city is appropriate.”

Saving Money on Survey Research

In the case of a survey, via telephone, internet, post or personal interview, the full-service supplier will pay field services for:

•    The professional interviewers needed to complete your study
•    Charges associated with using phone, internet, postage, etc. to collect your data
•    Incentives that might be required to ensure respondent cooperation in the research
•    Questionnaire tabulation
•    Any special statistical procedures that might be necessary

If you choose to work directly with field services for your survey, and save the mark up, be prepared to give the field service exact specifications for your survey.  Field service personnel generally lack experience designing or analyzing research data unless you happen to find a service where there is someone on staff with survey design experience.

To find a survey field service Google “Telephone or Internet or Mail research interviewing services in your preferred city.  And if you need a researcher who can help you write your questionnaire and analyze the data, again, ask for referrals from the field service you are using and get several quotes for the professional services you need.

Saving Money When Using Full-Service Supplier

Many companies simply don’t have the expertise, time or desire to work directly with field services.  Their distinct preference is to find a full-service research supplier who can guide them in effectively designing and executing their research studies.

If this is your preference you can still save money by knowing how full-service suppliers price their projects. This is done in essentially two ways:

1.    As a fixed-cost project.  Fixed-cost projects are all-inclusive and the most popular.  That is, the supplier will quote you one cost, which will include all professional fees and field service costs.

2.    As an hourly plus field service costs.  If you ask, most full-service suppliers will give you hourly rates for the various professional services associated with your study.  You should have for the hourly break down for the various professional fees as well as a separate cost for the field services.

You should find several research companies that provide both field service and hourly plus out-of-pocket costs and compare quotes.

Full-Service Suppliers for Focus Groups

The fee a focus group moderator will charge is roughly £1,500 per group, which includes all project planning, moderation, report preparation and recommendations.  That comes to £6,000 for a typical four- group study.  Of course, moderators will take a markup on the field service they use.  To save money on moderator fees, follow these guidelines:

1.    Get a two competitive fixed price costs and ask a third moderator what would be charged by working on an hourly basis.
2.    Don’t contract for a full report. You can usually get 90% of what you need from a summary report and by observing the groups.
3.    Ask the moderator to give you tiered pricing. There could be a substantial savings on the moderator’s fee when going from say two groups to four, six or eight groups.
4.    Determine whether you can conduct your focus groups in smaller, less-expensive markets.  Try to stay out of the very large markets where field service costs tend to be 10% to 20% higher.
5.    Usually audio tapes or CDs are all that are necessary to analyze results and to ensure a record of groups—and are provided free.  Don’t pay for videotaping unless absolutely necessary
6.    Finally, find a moderator who will allow you to contract directly with the field service but will still assist you in working with the field service.

Saving Money on Your Survey

Assuming you have done your due diligence and have found several full-service research suppliers you trust, follow these guidelines:

1.    Always get two or three fixed-cost estimates from full-service suppliers.  The trick is to make sure that all the suppliers are giving you costs for exactly the same project specifications.
2.    Ask another supplier to quote separate field service costs from professional fees.   Here, many suppliers tend to quote lower fees and/or take less of a markup on their field services.
3.    Offer to pay 75% of the cost of the project up front, and ask for a discount. You can often get a lower price by making higher upfront payments.
4.    Find a small research supplier you trust.  Assuming that company is not swamped with projects, there is no question that costs will be lower than what you’d receive from a larger research supplier.
5.    Wait on the project.  Many full-service suppliers cut prices when business is slow.
If you can realize a savings by waiting, lock in a lower price a month or two down the road.
6.    Consider more than one project.   If your supplier is aware that the first project will lead to a second, and you are ready to commit to more than one project, you are likely to get lower costs on both.
7.    Refer the supplier to another client.  Give the supplier a lead that turns into another client and watch what happens with your final invoice.
8.    Research suppliers usually quote their studies plus or minus 10%.  For example, £25,000 +/-10%.     If you’re happy with your completed project and plan to use the supplier again, tell them, and inquire about the possibility of lowering the final invoice by some percentage.
9.    Offer to pay the research supplier’s field services and other out-of-pocket costs directly.  Any financial burden that you will assume might be cause for the research supplier to lower their fees.

By following these guidelines you can save 25% to 50% on the cost of most marketing research studies.  While you must be the final judge as to whether it is time well spent, consider the risk of abandoning the research altogether and making risky business decisions in the dark.

Bob Kaden is the author of Guerrilla Marketing Research, MORE Guerrilla Marketing Research and co-editor of Leading Edge Marketing Research—21st Century Tools and Practices.(www.amazon.com)  Visit http://www.kadencompany.com

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Older entrepreneurs are seeking meaningful work


By Maureen Aylward

Recent studies have shown that people over the age of 50 are the fastest growing area of entrepreneurism. Experience is one contributing success factor. Our Zintro experts were eager to share their ideas and reasoning for this growth and success.

Arthur Kupperman, an entrepreneur,says that older entrepreneurs are by no means too old to give up on the creativity and hard work in starting a new venture. “I had to become an entrepreneur myself at age 62 as a result of having to close a business due to the nationwide financial issues in 2008,” Kupperman explains. “The prospects for a job were somewhere between slim and none. I used the situation to think through what could be a meaningful, educational, and beneficial and had to learn new skills. The result is that today I operate a successful web portal targeted to the 55+ demographic and feel it has been among the most enjoyable and rewarding ventures I have ever done.”Kupperman says that is wonderful to start a new venture and watch it mature from concept to reality. “The older generations may have less pressure to prove themselves, less responsibility in both familial and financial and therefore a clearer mind to think through the multitude of issues that confront an entrepreneur,” he says. “An it is a rewarding challenge to learn new technology and marketing skills.”

Vanders Young, an advertising and marketing consultant, says that the job market is fierce and competition for few jobs

available means that mature age candidates have even less chance of finding a job in the current economic climate. “Unfortunately, the job market is ageist and in the minds of employers and there is a tipping point from being seen as experienced to old/will be retiring soon,” she says. “Ridiculous as it is to consign these people with years of experience and knowledge to the too old basket, it is happening. Since retirement is out of the question for those who have seen their savings dwindle away, this is a big problem. So these people are starting their own businesses.”

Thomas Schear, a life and business coach, thinks there is a combination of reasons why many people over 50 are becoming entrepreneurs. “A lot of people over 50 have been laid off from their jobs due to the economy and the idea of going into the work world just isn’t appealing. Second, people over 50 are at a point in their lives where they simply are taking stock, deciding what they want to do with the rest of their lives,” says Schear. “Working at a factory or attending meetings just doesn’t have appeal. Additionally, these folks are looking for a way to rekindle excitement and passion in their life, take a risk, try for something bigger and better, and perhaps a business they can call their own.”

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Zintro has experts in every industry sector, across every job function, in every geographic region. Recently, some of the following topics have seen a inquiry activity:

Experts outline trends in media and marketing


By Maureen Aylward

We are always curious to learn what our experts think are the latest trends in different markets. Today, we look at trends in media and marketing. Here’s what our Zintro experts have to say.

Rebecca Fitts, a marketing and PR consultant and adjunct professor of marketing, says that social media continues to be a dominate trend in media and marketing. Fitts says that marketers are asking clients specific questions to help them clarify the right social media tools, such as:

  • Is it Facebook the right tool or are we just interested in it because everybody else is?
  • What is the value of a Facebook Like to us?
  • How often should we tweet?
  • What should we tweet?
  • How do we deal with angry tweets and Facebook comments?
  • Should we focus on SEO?
  • How do I engage customers?
  • What is the value exchange between my customer and our company?

Fitts sees Facebook advertising as being a major trend: “Facebook advertising is cool, inexpensive and targeted. Marketers are just beginning to understand and harness this power,” she says. Fitts works primarily within the fashion industry and says companies that are doing a great job of harnessing the power of Facebook include ASOS.com, Lane Bryant, and Publisher’s Clearing House. “These companies have made the transition from direct mail to direct e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and even mobile,” says Fitts says.

Karyn Elliot, a marketing consultant, thinks that Google Plus is the major trend in social networking right now. “Google Plus is like Facebook. The interface looks almost identical with the same three column homepage like Facebook. But the differences start to kick in immediately when you make friends;” explains Elliot. Instead of treating all of friends as equals, Google Plus lets the user put friends into different groups called circles, such as friends, acquaintances, family, sports fans, and so on. These circles represent a powerful innovation says Elliot.

Quick Response codes (QR codes) and other two-dimensional codes are expected to achieve widespread use this year says Elliot. “When you scan or read a QR code with an iPhone, Android, or other camera-enabled Smartphone, the user can link to digital content on the web; activate a number of phone functions including email, IM and SMS; and connect the mobile device to a web browser,” she says.

Shel Horowitz, author and marketing expert, thinks that one of the most powerful trends in marketing is creating target market partnerships. “The biggest thing in marketing these days is the ability to easily form alliances with companies and people who already reach your target market,” he says. “As an example, I formed partnerships for the launch of my eighth book, Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green. I estimate that the launch, in relationship with my partners, reached five million people three weeks after publication.”

What do you think? If you have a question or comment we would like to hear it. Click here. Would you be interested in signing up to be a Zintro expert and generate free leads for your business? Click here.

Social Media’s impact is powerful. Zintro experts tell us why.


By Maureen Aylward

Social media is one powerful set of technologies. And how it is used by industries can be telling. We asked Zintro social media and industry experts to tell us how they use social media and if it is changing the industries with which they work.

Dewey Carter provides SEO and social media marketing to the marine industry, which includes marinas and boat dealerships. He says that a study from Foresight Research shows that 84 percent of new boat buyers had read or seen boat information on the Internet prior to making their purchase decision. Another study shows that the average boat shopper searches online as far as 500 miles from their location. “These are powerful statistics, yet the marine industry seems to be slow at adapting to new media. New media campaigns can provide a huge increase in revenue, but this can be challenging to clients when they are just starting out,” Carter says. He suggests that marine owners start out with a blog, even before a website, because of the blog’s ability to add relevant content on a regular basis. “Search engines like this; your blog posts are like fishing bait; consumers will find that bait and hopefully they get will get hooked.

Rekha Krishnamurthi is a designer of home accessories and apparel. She says that social media has served to be a very useful marketing tool for her business and is a connector to people and resources. “Social media gives the start-up entrepreneur a platform to sell, market, and engage with current and potential customers in an effective yet non-invasive way. I use social media to notify my network on sales, new products, contests/giveaways, changes to my brand, and to show videos through which I offer design tips,” explains Krishnamurthi. “I have made some valuable connections because of social media. For example, I connected with a US manufacturer with facilities in Vietnam that will specifically cater to my small volume orders and with a TV producer who is using my designs on the set of a new web-TV show currently in production. I have make connections with non-profit organizations that connect me with fabric sourcing, and in return, I support various communities, especially women and children, which is in alignment with my mission.”

Managing social media can be challenging, and Krishnamurthi suggests that small businesses incorporate a social media strategy as part of their marketing plan.

Linda Taylor, a social media professional, says that social media has changed virtually every industry she works with from construction to auto racing. “People want authentic interaction and they want that interaction now,” Taylor says. “Whether that need was created by social media or social media fulfills a natural need, virtually every business should use some sort of appropriate social media tool for interaction with clients, customers and, employees.”

Taylor says that traditional push advertising methods no longer work. “A large company can no longer buy up the ad space and expect loyal consumers. Instead, they must find ways to interact with consumers and create fans,” she recommends. “The downside of social media is that it puts consumers into smaller and smaller tribes of people through interests; geographic tribes are becoming more irrelevant.”

Travis Yates, a professional in social media management, says that social media allows businesses to reach out and establish relationships with other like-minded businesses, customers, and individuals in ways they never could before. “The closest thing we had in the past was occasional Chamber of Commerce mixers or industry conventions which were infrequent. Now, we can carry on conversations in real time and establish relationships in a way that was not possible even ten years ago,” he says.

Yates says that businesses are able to conduct inexpensive contests online to attract consumers. “Using this soft approach introduces consumers to the business and its products and to the possibility to capture email addresses,” he says.

Asad Zeeshan, a social media expert, says that social media is not only providing the opportunity to connect to customers and clients, but it is helping connect competitors, marketers, and local and international analysts. “It is an important medium for business marketing these days that provides multi-marketing platforms through blogs, Facebook, discussion groups, and Q&A opportunities.”

Christine Sierra, a media marketing and PR executive, says that the public relations and marketing industries have seen a radical change in how they do business thanks to social media. The channels through which clients are conducting campaigns inevitably include a social media element. “There is greater opportunity to reach the media by combining traditional tactics like email and telephone with social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn,” Sierra explains. “Businesses are looking for social media coaches to help them understand and navigate the waters, which enhances the offerings from PR and marketing agencies.”

David Grebow, a consultant, writer, and speaker for Fortune 100 companies, has been in the corporate learning industry for over 12 years as a senior executive. He says that social media is completely changing the equation for learning in companies. “The focus has shifted to what’s called social learning. I’ve been helping companies, like Cisco, IBM and HP, for the last three years blend social media into education programs and the results have been spectacular,” Grebow says. “Learning is a social activity and providing online networking and collaboration in virtual or actual learning programs enhances the students’ ability to learn from one another, build ongoing networks, and gives the instructor an opportunity to be a facilitator or mentor, which is more effective than always trying to play the sage on the stage.”

Clint White, an aviation consultant and social media expert, says that the introduction and use of social media has completely transformed the commercial aviation industry. “The ability to have real-time customer feedback and instantaneous communication via Facebook and Twitter have allowed my industry to be proactive to our customers’ wants, needs, compliments, and complaints,” says White. “My business is using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We use social media to make announcements to clients without the huge cost of advertisements and maintain communication with vendors and partners. We find it invaluable for its networking possibilities.”

What do you think? If you have a question or comment about the social media, we would like to hear it. Click here. Would you be interested in signing up to be a Zintro expert and generate free leads for your business? Click here.

As funding for nonprofits decline, what can nonprofits do differently?


By Maureen Aylward

It seems like nonprofits around the globe struggle with the same issues around funding and finding new and innovative techniques to tackle the issue. Zintro experts from the US, UK, Albania, and Israel responded to our call to outline what nonprofits can do differently.

“Being too dependent on donations is a challenge that nonprofits have always faced – it has just been magnified in the new, changed economy,” says David Etienne, an expert in marketing, advertising, and communications for nonprofits.  He suggests that nonprofits create alternative revenue streams, such as creating a social enterprise. “Taking a hard look at your mission and vision can help you determine if there is an unmet need in the marketplace for whatever product or service you provide, then develop a business plan to get the funding needed to launch it,” Etienne says. Board support and encouragement is critical to its success.

When fundraising is low, finding funds for general operations can be difficult and other areas of the organization can be affected as well. “Foundations and individual donors who make up the donor pool want to support programs that help people, but they are less excited about helping the organization buy a new copier or pay salaries,” Etienne notes. “Nonprofits need to be able to make the connection for support functions, and a spun off social enterprise business or project may help fund those functions.”

Nachum Katz, an owner and CEO of a start-up in Israel and nonprofit consultant, says that he advocates shifting to a business management approach in nonprofit organizations. “In my past experience, I have suggested that management be a more business oriented one so that value-giving activities can create more income as opposed to just relying on donations, which were the only source of income in the in the past,” Katz says.

Kent Gordon, an entrepreneurial executive with broad expertise in custom marketing research, strategic planning, consulting, and business development, thinks that nonprofits need to move toward research as a base to make decisions. “Through qualitative and quantitative research, we are actively listening to donors and non-donors to understand their needs, attitudes, preferences, and behavior,” Gordon says. “This research enables us to identify key drivers and barriers in a competitive context, segment the relevant population, and develop harmonious new positioning aimed at the most fruitful segments of current and prospective donors.” The research allows insight that can be leveraged for more effective and efficient targeting and messaging, which can enable an organization to increase brand equity and return on investment.

Ray Georgeson, a chief executive for a UK environmental charity, says that UK nonprofits working in the recycling sector are finding that state and municipal grant funding and donations is diminishing rapidly. “As a result, this is leading to some downsizing, but it is also driving nonprofits toward more commercial focus in their activities,” notes Georgeson. “We are employing business development techniques, better marketing, and seeking contract work in competition with the private sector.”

Georgeson says that in his experience there are traditional areas where the non-profit sector has had more of a niche, especially in educating and communicating on waste reduction and recycling and providing re-use services, such as running thrift stores and furniture re-use schemes for those in social need. “In present times, these services are needed more than ever. Nonprofits must become more entrepreneurial in managing their operations to keep services running, but also by earning contract income from selling consultancy expertise, which can effectively cross-subsidize the provision of social need services that receive less state money,” Georgeson urges.

Catherine Weber, a social media marketing expert working with government and nonprofits on interactive and conventional marketing and PR programs, says that she often recommends that nonprofits think about social media channels as an opportunity to create and build relationships with existing donors and new prospects. “For example, creating a Facebook page to keep donors and prospects aware of the good your nonprofit is doing also lets them know where their money goes,” Weber suggests. She also says that social media should feature features donors, staff, and others as a way of personalizing the organization.

Entela Kaleshi a fundraising consultant for nonprofits in Albania concurs that the donation base for nonprofits worldwide is declining. “This is due to in large part because of the impact of the financial crisis on developed countries, especially in Europe,” says Kaleshi.

To help, Keleshi suggests that nonprofits employ some of the following strategies:

  • Train staff to prepare professional proposals,
  • Secure funds by developing relationships with community and local enterprises,
  • Appeal to donors in partnership with other organizations, and
  • Put pressure on governments to increase funds for the nonprofit sector,

What do you think? If you have a question or comment about the nonprofit sector, we would like to hear it. Click here. Would you be interested in signing up to be a Zintro expert and generate free leads for your business? Click here.

What are the copyright and anti-trust issues that Google faces by digitizing books and how does this affect Google’s competition?


Google’s ambitious plan to digitize and make available online millions of books came to a halt this week due to a federal judge’s decision to strike down Google’s settlement with an author and publisher group.

jpreynolds7 , an executive manager for strategy, digital content creation and delivery says that Google has already digitized millions of books – current estimates are 15-20 million books – with or without copyright holder approvals. Many books are out-of-copyright titles, but at least one third are not. “The issue is that Google is claiming that they are only making snippets available, not the entire work, for viewing by people who discover them,” says jpreynolds. “This is called the Fair Use doctrine which is in the current digital copyright act.” Google offers to take down any title that a rights-holder asks them to and that is one of the key issues. Rights holders have to discover that their work has been copied and is now available for viewing, even in snippets. The traditional custom in publishing has been to seek permission from the author first. Google has taken an aggressive approach saying that if an author wants it taken down, they have to tell them and they will do it. In the meantime, it is made available.

The anti-trust issue centers on the so-called “orphan” titles, which are in limbo; it is not clear who the rights holder is, such as an author, estate, university, or corporation. “Google is saying they will take care of these orphan titles by making them fully available and even selling them,” says jpreynolds. “At some point, if a rights holder shows up and proves their ownership, Google will pay them any royalties earned. This is the key component to the anti-trust argument.

The decision continues to put the fate of millions of titles in doubt and enables Google to become the pre-eminent supplier of digital book content. Google is a long-term competitive threat to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Microsoft, and Yahoo. Google is moving away from it search focus toward productizing its content.

Hugh Griffin, vice president of sales and marketing for Stuart F. Cooper, Co., and an expert with 40 years experience in all aspects of printing, including acquisitions, operations, sales, and marketing, recently commented on the copyright and anti-trust issues that Google faces by digitizing books.

He thinks that Google was too ambitious to try to digitize every book. “While Google copied books in the public domain, many of which are out of print, it also freely copied books clearly protected under copyright laws in many nations,” Griffin states. “Further, Google posted snippets of copyrighted books without author permission or compensation, and that is fundamentally illegal and irresponsible.”

Griffin says that Google lost in court mainly due to pressure from the EU, where it was claimed that Google’s program would give them far too much power over out-of-print titles. “Many authors were likewise furious, but potentially unable to afford to mount a legal defense as they have no official organization to protect their rights,” he says. “The Authors Guild at times seems to claim this role; however, it accepted Google’s earlier settlement terms over the widespread refusal by many authors who belong to it. This does not include the vast majority of authors that self publish.”

According to Griffin, self-published authors need to sell their books on Amazon, Google, and other e-book platforms. Challenging the big players in court is cost prohibitive for and therefore those big players win. But this time the federal courts are slowing things down.

Amazon now finds itself competing with Google, and Microsoft and others that profit from selling content have influence over millions of self publishers. These companies arbitrarily dictate how those who own actual copyrights are paid for a sale. “Google, Amazon, and others who now dominate the book business have taken a position of dictating who can sell what books at what price and at what profit margin. They change the rules without permission and do not notify the authors who hold the rights to the books that Amazon and Google sells,” Griffin says.

Do you have a question about the e-book industry or any other topic you would like to ask Zintro’s experts? Click here. Would you be interested in signing up to be a Zintro expert and generate free leads for your business? Click here.