Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


Great Peek Into the Old Publishing World Workings!

As I have alluded to in past posts on this blog, I admire and respect the “in-the-trenches” experience of Mike Shatzkin of The IdeaLogical Blog and the Shatzkin Files.

His 23 May 2010 post on the Shatzkin Files Losing the secondary business can kill you gives a rather detailed insight into how publishers published and distributed, how indie booksellers sold and made margin above and beyond street traffic and how authors were treated…A wonderful post I wanted to promote here…

Mike Shatzkin says:

Before the Internet deconstructed the publishing value chain and enabled new models, both publishers and booksellers benefited from a lot of what I’d call “secondary business”. Secondary business was not what they were set up or primarily intending to do, but which they easily could accommodate to earn easy margin that supported their primary operations.

Publishers controlled an apparatus that could make bound books out of manuscripts and put them on bookstore shelves for patrons to buy. These were not trivial capabilities and they were much in demand. Although the principal business model for a commercial publisher was to select what to publish, develop it editorially in collaboration with the author, and then take the risk of printing inventory and distributing it in hopes that it would sell, sometimes opportunities arose that were less risky ways to employ their skills.


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