Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

10/13/2013

Books Don’t Want to be Sold for Free


Is publishing, as it was, doomed? Probably not completely, but many fear for the fate of publishing for good reasons. Hell, Barnes and Noble’s book shelf space is shrinking, being replaced with doodads for the desk, toys, magnifying glasses, etc.; the hopeful savior Nook is proving unsustainable and five major publishers have hefty payouts due to loosing their price-fixing suit!

But, in spite of all this turmoil, if you step back and take a broader view, books are not failing, falling or disintegrating pricewise as products of other cultural industries have due to the digital revolution.

According to Evan Hughes (who has written for such publications as The New York Review of Books, the London Review of BooksThe New York TimesThe New RepublicThe Boston Globe,n+1, and The Awl): “If you’re in the business of selling journalism, moving images, or music, you have seen your work stripped of value by the digital revolution. Translate anything into ones and zeroes, and it gets easier to steal and harder to sell at a sustainable price. Yet people remain willing to fork over a decent sum for books, whether in print or in electronic form. “I can buy songs for 99 cents, I can read most newspapers for free, I can rent a $100 million movie tonight for $2.99,” Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s vice president of Kindle content, told me in January. “Paying $9.99 for a best-selling book—paying $10 for bits?—is in many respects a very strong accomplishment for the business.” 

In other words – books have a stronger cultural value and appreciation AND, therefore, staying power. Another reason books have fared better than their cultural cousins (music, movies, television, journalism articles) is ‘the book is so low-tech, it’s hard for technology to degrade it.’

To find out just how digital by-products such as disaggregation, bundling, piracy and other outside influences have crushed all the cultural products EXCEPT the book you will find the follow-on article from the New Republic by Evan Hughes indispensable and a great read:

Books Don’t Want to Be Free

How publishing escaped the cruel fate of other culture industries

You hardly have to wait in line at Barnes & Noble anymore. The cashiers stare into the middle distance, while on the sales floor, space for books steadily erodes. Instead: toys, magnifying glasses, doodads for the desk. Also: Nook devices, which are supposed to represent the future. Except the Nook division is actually doing worse than the stores themselves. Independent booksellers still have not recovered from the last decade’s brutality. And five major publishers just learned that, as part of their settlement of a price-fixing suit, they’ll have to refund about $3 for every electronic copy of a New York Times best-seller that they sold over a 25-month period. Reasons to fear for the fate of publishing are not difficult to find, and neither are the prophets of doom.

Step back and look at books in a wider context, though, and the picture changes. If you’re in the business of selling journalism, moving images, or music, you have seen your work stripped of value by the digital revolution. Translate anything into ones and zeroes, and it gets easier to steal and harder to sell at a sustainable price. Yet people remain willing to fork over a decent sum for books, whether in print or in electronic form. “I can buy songs for 99 cents, I can read most newspapers for free, I can rent a $100 million movie tonight for $2.99,” Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s vice president of Kindle content, told me in January. “Paying $9.99 for a best-selling book—paying $10 for bits?—is in many respects a very strong accomplishment for the business.” At the individual level, everyone in the trade—whether executive, editor, agent, author, or bookseller—faces threats to his or her livelihood: self-publishing, mergers and “efficiencies,” and, yes, the suspicious motives of Amazon executives. But the book itself is hanging on and even thriving. More than any major cultural product, it has retained its essential worth.Of course, publishers think that $9.99 is still too low for popular e-books, an assessment that drove their ill-fated effort to work with Apple to take control of what they cost. (After racking up legal bills that “look like the unit sales numbers of Fifty Shades of Grey,”as one of their CEOs put it, the houses settled anyway and incurred that $3 penalty and a raft of other punishments.) It may be that a higher price would be more equitable. But other media still have reason to look at the relative economic health of the book with envy. Putting together an album requires not just the talents of the musician, but expensive instruments and recording equipment, costly studio space, and a team of engineers and technicians. Each edition of a newspaper consumes enormous resources. Movies and television involve sinking millions into performers, crews, and effects. Yet audiences have come to believe they should get all that on the cheap, if not for free. Meanwhile, books—not as complex a production—have held up much better.

Continued at article source

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09/01/2013

Seems the Public has Always Been a Mystery to the Publishing Industry


What do they REALLY want to read?

What do they REALLY want to read?

And that’s why traditional publishing (TP) is being forced to change — AND why, even though they’ve made millions in the past, they probably left many millions MORE on the table!

 

The fresh air being breathed into the publishing industry through technology and self-publishing has writers and readers walking on air with anticipation of accessing “on demand” content for an infinite number of hybrid niches that were considered ‘unacceptable’ or ‘unmarketable’ in the past by TP.

Targeted excerpts from tonight’s feature resource: 

“Andrew Crofts – whose latest book, Secrets of the Italian Gardener, was optioned for film rights via Wattpad, even before it was published – is buoyant about the fresh air that is being breathed into publishing. “Before you were helpless as a writer; there was an awful despondency. The business people had convinced us that if a book does not make business sense, it’s not good art. Now the writers are back in control. We are working more like the artist.” 

“In 1917 Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard unpacked a small printing press in the front room of their home. They set up the Hogarth Press to enable them to print small volumes of books that “the commercial publisher would not look at”. The Hogarth Press gave the writers of the Bloomsbury circle, which included T.S. Eliot and E.M. Forster, the freedom to write what they wanted, rather than write what established publishers judged sellable.”

“I am a refugee from traditional publishing,” says Orna Ross who had two novels published by Penguin, before becoming a self-published author and founding the Alliance of Independent Authors. “The trade pinkified my writing (pigeonholed it in the Chick-Lit genre) and sold my books to supermarkets. It left me feeling empty. I chose to self publish because it gives me creative freedom.”

“Writers can now sell direct to readers, who armed with their Kindles, iPads and all manner of e-readers, can decide what rises into the bestseller charts. Readers are the new tastemakers and gatekeepers. During the week 22-27 July 2013 (and most weeks), four out of the top 20 titles on The New York Times e-book Bestseller list were self-published.”

I KNOW you’re just dying to read the rest of this intensely, insightful feature resource that will tie all the above excerpts together while providing some great inside numbers, links and an informative video — To continue go to the title linked below:

 

Self Publishing: Here To Stay?

 

 

 

04/18/2013

Digital Disruption Continues To Reshape the Publishing Market — E.G.: If an Author Self-Publishes, What Is the Role of a literary Agency?


Digital Disruption (DD) – As formidable as a DD cup 🙂

What is the role of a literary agent? Well, I’ll tell you — it’s changing, as most other publishing functions are, due to digital disruption — literary agencies are becoming self-publishing service centers in addition to representing author clients to traditional publishers.

Why? SS (simple survival).

Yes! Digital has, INDEED, caused disruption in the publishing industry. Actually ‘disruption’ is too minor, ‘rebirth’ is more apropos — It has forced a totally inefficient system to not only think, but ACT, outside the proverbial ‘box’  in order to survive — resulting in innovative, improved and more efficient publishing procedures (still in progress by the way) — AND a fairer, more level playing field for authors, with more control where it should be: with the actual creators/writers.

All the events causing the underway publishing transformation has also caused literary agencies to ‘be all they can be’ as they have adopted self-publishing options for their author clients blessed with established contacts and negotiated contracts for same.

Interesting excerpted disruptions from tonight’s discussion for your preview and titillation:

– Self-publishing becomes more attractive to established authors.

– Romance novelist Eloisa James says that published authors talked about the “self-pubs” all the time and had learned a lot from those writers’ efforts. “They treat it like a small business,” she said, “and they are geniuses at discoverability.”

– Mr. Harris, co-director of ICM’s literary department, said self-publishing “returns a degree of control to authors who have been frustrated about how their ideas for marketing and publicity fare at traditional publishers.” Both Mr. Harris and Mr. Mamet, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and author, said that the big publishers focused mostly on blockbuster books and fell short on other titles — by publishing too few copies, for instance, or limiting advertising to only a short period after a book was released — “Particularly for high-end literary fiction, their efforts too often have been very low-octane,” Mr. Harris said of the traditional publishers.

– Interesting thought: If an author self-publishes, what, then, is the role of a literary agency? Mr. Gottlieb of Trident said it made sense for his clients to self-publish through the agency, which charges a standard commission on sales, instead of going directly to Amazon themselves because the agency brought experience in marketing and jacket design. It also has relationships with the digital publishers that give their clients access to plum placement on sites that self-published authors can’t obtain on their own.

– Self-publishing now accounts for more than 235,000 books annually, according to Bowker, a book research firm. Big houses like Penguin and Harlequin have opened their own self-publishing divisions because they see it as a profit center of the future.

– “… publishing is like Hollywood — nobody ever does the marketing they promise.”

– Then there is the money. While self-published authors get no advance, they typically receive 70 percent of sales. A standard contract with a traditional house gives an author an advance, and only pays royalties — the standard is 25 percent of digital sales and 7 to 12 percent of the list price for bound books — after the advance is earned back in sales.

Enough titillating highlights 🙂 These details from The New York Times by Leslie Kaufman:

 

New Publisher Authors Trust: Themselves

When the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and author David Mamet released his last book, “The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture,” with the Sentinel publishing house in 2011, it sold well enough to make the New York Times best-seller list.

This year, when Mr. Mamet set out to publish his next one, a novella and two short stories about war, he decided to take a very different path: he will self-publish.

Mr. Mamet is taking advantage of a new service being offered by his literary agency, ICM Partners, as a way to assume more control over the way his book is promoted.

“Basically I am doing this because I am a curmudgeon,” Mr. Mamet said in a telephone interview, “and because publishing is like Hollywood — nobody ever does the marketing they promise.”

As digital disruption continues to reshape the publishing market, self-publishing — including distribution digitally or as print on demand — has become more and more popular, and more feasible, with an increasing array of options for anyone with an idea and a keyboard. Most of the attention so far has focused on unknown and unsigned authors who storm onto the best-seller lists through their own ingenuity.

The announcement by ICM and Mr. Mamet suggests that self-publishing will begin to widen its net and become attractive also to more established authors. For one thing, as traditional publishers have cut back on marketing, this route allows well-known figures like Mr. Mamet to look after their own publicity.

Then there is the money. While self-published authors get no advance, they typically receive 70 percent of sales. A standard contract with a traditional house gives an author an advance, and only pays royalties — the standard is 25 percent of digital sales and 7 to 12 percent of the list price for bound books — after the advance is earned back in sales.

ICM, which will announce its new self-publishing service on Wednesday, is one of the biggest and most powerful agencies to offer the option. But others are doing the same as they seek to provide additional value to their writers while also extending their reach in the industry.

Since last fall, Trident Media Group, which represents 800 authors, has been offering its clients self-publishing possibilities through deals negotiated though online publishers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, in a system very similar to the one ICM is setting up. Robert Gottlieb, chairman of Trident, says that 200 authors have taken advantage of the service, though mostly for reissuing older titles, the backlist.

Another literary agency, InkWell Management, has helped the romance novelist Eloisa James reissue many of her backlist titles, as well as her newer books overseas, this way. She usually turns out her best sellers through HarperCollins, and in a telephone interview she said she would not leave Harper completely because she loves her editor. But she added that published authors talked about the “self-pubs” all the time and had learned a lot from those writers’ efforts.

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12/13/2010

Ebooks: Leading the Digital Culture Revolution


The digital revolution has ‘only just begun’ (I love that 70’s Carpenters song We’ve Only Just Begun!)…The first main wave is about to crest, but many after-waves are already forming!

And what is carrying the digital revolutionary message? What is the crucible containing the crital content…the secret strategy?

Ebooks, that’s what!

As Wesley Lynch, writing for Tech Leader, says in his report, E-books: Publishing on the eve of a revolution,…Not even Facebook reaches out from the digital into the physical world to the extent that e-books do.’

Lynch reports:

The mercurial world of the internet remains a catalyst for change. In recent history, iTunes, the seminal digital music download platform, has turned music distribution upside down.

Now, with e-books poised to hit the mainstream, we’re on the eve of a revolution to rival that.

People don’t appreciate how deep the impact will be on our day-to-day lives. Not even Facebook reaches out from the digital into the physical world to the extent that e-books do. Mobile phones and One Laptop Per Child don’t add value in and of themselves. An e-book reader such as Amazon’s Kindle, however, comes with a content value proposition so compelling that it is single-handedly changing the way books are distributed, bought, sold and read.

So how will the comely, harmless-looking Kindle change how we think about, interact with and deal in books?

Print (books, magazines and newspapers) will die

(John’s note: I don’t think print will ever die out completely. New tech is in the works to simplify & make print more value added)

Gutenberg’s printing press (invented in 1439) is widely regarded as the most important development of the modern era, notes Wikipedia, putting paid to handwritten manuscripts and paving the way for the Renaissance, Reformation and Scientific Revolution. Now, after almost 600 years, the e-book is signalling the death of the printed book.

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