Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


The Dirty Secret of the Traditional Publishing World

Filed under: changing publishing business model,traditional publishing — gator1965 @ 7:24 pm

More on the changing (or leveling) of the traditional publishing industry…

When lenders charge exorbitant interest and fees it’s called “usury”…What do they call it when a business (in this case traditional publishing) takes a usurious percentage of the profits?

“Immoral” is the best word I can think of…even if the usurious division of profits is technically legal…it is still immoral and, to me, “legal theft”. Talk about a redistribution of wealth!

Traditional publishing has been taking advantage of writers and authors almost since it’s inception and is guilty of usurious practices. When the administrative and purely business processes of getting a creative product to market makes more than the creation itself…something is drastically wrong…AND, publishers want the writers to do their own marketing/publicity at their own expense! BALDERDASH!

Effective marketing was the single thing that the old-timer publishers did that half-way made their expense worthwhile…When they relinquished that (except in some cases for already established authors), they became more or less impotent… and it was just a matter of time before their over-priced house-of-cards would fall.

This report is by Moe Zilla from Helium :

It’s already happening. Instead of buying books, people are now buying something else: digital e-books. recently announced that they’re selling many more e-books than they are of the traditional hardcover print editions. And this is great news for aspiring authors, because in the digital world, it’s much easier to get your book published! But it’s also going to bring a lot of big changes to the world of professional book publishing.

The dirty secret of the traditional publishing world is that most book authors don’t make much money now! The “advance” they’re given is just that – their publisher will then keep thousands of dollars from the book’s profits until they’ve earned back all the money that they advanced the author to write it. But in addition, many publishers expect writers to use that advance money to line up their own publicity! (After all, the writer has to ensure that their book sales are high – so the publishers will want to publish their books again…) And even with all that, most professional authors earn less than $20,000 for their books. If you think about it, that’s less than you could earn at almost any regular 40-hour a week job.

In the past, writers just had to accept this sorry state of events – but with digital publishing, they now have a very attractive option! In fact, the worst feature of a traditional publishing house is that most authors only earn a small part of the book’s cover price. Some of it is eaten up by the cost to print the book, but a large chunk goes to the publishing house, with the writer getting whatever’s left. Self-publishing allows these writers to bypass that publishing bureaucracy altogether, and keep more of the money for themselves!

Of course, most publishers also lose money on most of the books that they publish, so there’s also ways that they could benefit from digital publishing. The biggest improvement would be the elimination of most printing costs. (If they misjudge the popularity of a new title, they won’t lose the tens of thousands of dollars that it cost them to print it!) And I’ve heard some publishers simply locate the most popular e-books – and then offer those authors a chance to sell those same books with hard covers.

Publishing will definitely change in the digital age, but there will always be a place for the traditional hardcover book. For example, I’m not sure people want to prop their Kindle up in the kitchen so they can squint at a Kindle cookbook and try deciphering all of its ingredients!


What Does iPad and Kindle Mean for the Future of the Publishing Industry?

Amazon introduced the Kindle THEN Apple introduced the iPad to fight the Kindle and BOOM we have new business models that have drastically overhauled the way publishing will make money and who will get what share of the booty.

This from the iPad News Tracker:

“Publishing executives have an unprecedented opportunity to grow the industry. Yet, what they are doing is defending their old business model – which, frankly, is now antiquated”

NYU Stern Professor Vasant Dhar, an expert in the strategic implications of information technology, warns that the publishing industry will be the next “carcass” if it doesn’t embrace a new business model, and he proposes what this new model should look like.

Professor Dhar, who conducted the first study to quantify the economic impact of user-generated content for the music business, cites the music trade as a perfect example of an industry that failed because it was unprepared and resistant to adopting new technologies. Instead of focusing on providing their customers value and reasonable rights of usage, they became obsessed with preventing piracy, and it cost them dearly.

He argues that publishers should adopt a more market-back-focused business model that welcomes technological innovation. “Executives are disconnected from their rising consumer base. They underestimate the power of and the cultural shift that has been brought on by emerging technologies.”

Professor Dhar explains the drivers behind the technological shift:

Moore’s Law – which states that raw computing power doubles every 18 months, making general purpose devices capable of rendering content at high quality The increasing level of digitization of virtually all types of content and the explosion of user-generated content: data on the Internet doubles every three months, and roughly 20 hours of new content is currently uploaded every hour on YouTube The modularity of software, which makes it easy to build new applications: while software productivity languished for decades, it has now kicked into high gear as object-oriented software makes it easy to plug-and-play self-contained modules into high-quality systems very quickly Taken together, the three drivers are powerful disruptors of existing business models.

He suggests the publishing industry implement a digital strategy based on simple pricing and digital rights aimed at growing the market of readers. “Increasingly, consumers prefer electronic delivery of their content. Publishers should tap this market and see it for what it is – growth,” said Professor Dhar. “Would you rather have a piece of a growing market even if it’s a smaller percentage than before, or try and hold onto a larger piece of one that is crumbling?” he asks. All the evidence to date suggests that defending obsolete business models isn’t a good idea, he says.


Editor Salaries Slump in 2009

Due to changes in the publishing trade, as previously discussed in this blog, editors’ salaries have been stymied and even decreased in some niches.

Matt Kinsman, executive editor of FOLIO magazine, has listed some editor salaries in the September 2009 issue. His article gives an insight into editors’ compensation:

By Matt Kinsman 08/27/2009

Magazine editors saw salaries rise for the most part in 2008 but they expect a significant decline of possibly 10 percent or greater in 2009, according to the 2009 FOLIO: Editorial Salary Survey, conducted by Readex Research. The mean salary for editorial directors was $89,000, with b-to-b coming out on top at $98,200 followed by consumer at $90,800 and associations at $81,300.

However, just 20 percent of editorial directors expect a salary increase in 2009. Forty-seven percent expect it to stay the same, while 31 percent expect a decrease (of that number, the majority—15 percent—say they think it will drop by 15 percent or more).

Editors and executive editors saw a mean salary of $69,500 in 2008, with association coming out on top at $74,900, followed by b-to-b at $70,600. Just 17 percent of respondents expect an increase, while 53 percent expect salaries to be flat in 2009.

The consumer side posted the largest salary among managing and senior editors at $65,400, followed by association at $56,200 and b-to-b at $55,600. Again, 53 percent of managing/senior editors expect their salaries to be flat in 2009.

New Reality?
Some respondents wondered if a changing business model could mean lower salaries long term. “Closing down print products could be smart from a cost standpoint but getting big dollars from online is a challenge, which could result in cuts in pay and staff.”

“Compensation may not change but workload will due to reduced staff,” said another. One association editor talked about a shrinking readership. “Smaller organizations are disappearing and merging companies will mean less dues money. That means less operating money in budget for salaries/bonuses.”

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