Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

06/06/2013

Seems Traditional Publishers Are the REAL Vanity Publishers


Vanity prevents admitting decline of traditional publishing industry

The main question popping out of Books Expo America (BEA) 2013, just held 5/29/13 thru 6/1/13 in New York, was ‘What in the world were the participants smoking?’ — Surely they had gotten their hands on some quality weed and inhaled it into the deepest innards of their beings.

From there they all seemed to enter a never-never land and were issued rose-colored glasses!

According to some of the keynoters and other presenters, ALL is just hunky-dory in traditional publishing! After all, they made it through another year and this assures their survival, right?

Talk about vanity — Thus traditional publishers are becoming known as ‘vanity’ publishers.

A librarian, attending BEA from Pennsylvania, broke the great news that “Publishing is not dead.” Meaning the old TP business model of publishing is not dead — Now, as noted by NYT best-selling author, Michael Levin, a little later on in this post: ‘How in the hell would a librarian know if publishing was dead or not?’

Even when the big traditional publishers were at the top of their game, and the only player in the playground, they failed miserably at fulfilling what a lot of idealistic daydreamers thought or wanted to believe their noble cause was — mainly to discover, nurture and mentor new talent, as well as make money.

TP’s lost their way when they started putting the almighty buck and profit margins ahead of being the true gatekeepers that discovered and curated new artistic literature and culture. I now sometimes doubt that traditional publishing EVER had this as their true goal and was ALWAYS a hard-nosed money grabbing endeavor.

At any rate, when they ditched the noble-cause-clothes (if, indeed, they ever wore them) and donned the money-grabber garb, the only thing they had left of true value for new writers was the double shot of  marketing and distribution — and that was wrested from them by independent publishing!

I was so taken by author Michael Levin’s style and comic relief approach to this subject that I just had to pass it along :

Posted by Michael Levin in Huffington Post’s Blog:

In New York, The Real Vanity Publishers Converge

I haven’t had a drink or smoked pot in more than two decades, but I am more than willing to toss away my sobriety if the publishers who gathered at BookExpo America last week would share with me some of the high quality ganja they were undoubtedly passing around.

They think that just because they’ve made it through another year, that their ongoing survival is somehow assured.

Wrong.

If you sell enough fiction, maybe you start believing in it.

The reality is that bookstores are disappearing. That book readers are finding other things to do with their time and money. That independent publishing has stolen the raison d’etre of major publishing houses, who have lost their twin hammerlocks on the marketing and distribution of books.

New York publishers also continue to undermine the value of books by publishing mediocre books by mediocre authors who have large social media followings and therefore permit lazy publishers to publish books without needing to make the effort to market them.

This is a market strategy known as trying to fool all of the people all of the time.
It was last applied, with equal success, to the Edsel and more recently, to New Coke.

The New York Times, of course, treats Book Expo America with the solemnity due Puxatawnie Phil on Groundhog Day. It quoted such worthies as a librarian at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to the effect that “Publishing is not dead.” With no disrespect intended to the librarians of Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, who are undoubtedly masters of the card catalog, the Dewey Decimal System, and shushing, how the hell would they know whether publishing was dead or not?

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03/24/2013

The Publishing Industry Will Never Be The Same – What Say We Make It Better! – Or Seeking Literature’s True Business


Make Publishing Better Than It Ever Was

Excellent idea! And one also fostered by +Jon Evans — an author (whose novels have been praised by The Times, The Economist and Washington Post), journalist, software engineer and TechCrunch weekly columnist — whom I recently discovered and, must say, admire. I admire his wit and intelligence — and especially for introducing me to +Richard Nash — another deeply accomplished,  independent publishing entrepreneur, VP of Community and Content of Small Demons, founder of Cursor, and Publisher of Red Lemonade plus much more.

Jon’s outlook as excerpted: “For the last five years, in the face of this spreading transformation, the publishing industry has been caught in a tawdry and depressing spiral of denial and decay, constantly attempting to reject new media, new technologies, and new business models until they can fight back no more…That’s why Nash’s essay is such a breath of revolutionary air. The publishing industry will never be the same, but why can’t it be better? Why can’t a whole new model of publishing be created, rather than this false dichotomy between “published” and “self-published”?”

Richard’s outlook as excerpted: “You begin to realize that the business of literature is the business of making culture, not just the business of manufacturing bound books. This, in turn, means that the increased difficulty of selling bound books in a traditional manner (and the lower price point in selling digital books) is not going to be a significant challenge over the long run, except to free the business of literature from the limitations imposed when one is producing things rather than ideas and stories.

A business born out of the invention of mechanical reproduction transforms and transcends the very circumstances of its inception, and again has the potential to continue to transform and transcend itself—to disrupt industries like education, to drive the movie industry, to empower the gaming industry. Book culture is in far less peril than many choose to assume, for the notion of an imperiled book culture assumes that book culture is a beast far more refined, rarified, and fragile than it actually is. By defining books as against technology, we deny our true selves, we deny the power of the book. Let’s restore to publishing its true reputation—not as a hedge against the future, not as a bulwark against radical change, not as a citadel amidst the barbarians, but rather as the future at hand, as the radical agent of change, as the barbarian. The business of literature is blowing shit up.”

“The business of literature is blowing shit up.” — I like this thesis and it bears repeating.

I know the theme of my post tonight will make some of my past commenters happy 🙂

Let’s explore this issue more (and be introduced to numerous cool links as a byproduct) in this dissecting TechCrunch article by Jon Evans:

 

“The Business Of Literature Is Blowing Shit Up”

If you love books–heck, if you even like ‘em–run, don’t walk, and read this magnificent, magisterial essay by Richard Nash on their past, present and future. It’s long. Don’t be frightened. But even if the Internet has shredded your attention span, at least scroll down to its epic final paragraph. Go on. I’ll wait.

It’s been a rotten decade for book publishers, newspapers, and anyone else clinging to that 15th century technology called the printing press. Marc Andreessen has advised the mighty New York Times to “burn the boats” and shut down their presses. His partner Ben Horowitz claimed last year that “babies born today will probably never read anything in print.”

Meanwhile, Borders is deadthe tablet is killing the e-reader, and Barnes & Noble’s Nook has gone from investor darling to dead-weight albatross. The “Big Six” publishers may seem to be surviving nicely, but check out this graph:

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01/25/2013

Self-Published Authors To Traditional Publishers: “You had your chance.”


“You should have treated us better”

Today Traditional publishers (TPs) are actively seeking self-published authors who come with their own following and fan base — a complete 180 degree turnaround from just a few months ago (or is it a few years ago now?)

But, due to freedom-from-hassle and time-saving publishing platforms on scene today, many writers are actually turning down the TP publishers after they DO proffer a contract deal — Too much loss of newly acquired control I would say 🙂

Could it be the big publishing houses are now beginning to lose some of their established contract writers due to diminishing operating budgets? And, if these last vestiges of revenue-generating talent do leave — what the hell would the TPs do ? They better develop a constant stream of incoming new talent  — but, if the new talent is beginning to flip them the finger for past abusive policies (not to mention their new, tech-endowed power), the talent stream will dry up and the TPs will just fade away.

They had their chance.

, a contributor to the Good E-Reader blog, posted these insightful thoughts on this subject:

The Self vs Traditional Publishing Debate Continues 

While authors and industry experts on both sides of the table have almost come to a consensus that there are benefits to both self-publishing and traditional publishing, it almost feels as though some more hardcore fans of either side still won’t lay to rest their original sentiments about the other camp. Publisher’s Weekly took note of a recent promotion by Amazon of a traditional-turned-indie author, what some in the industry are now referring to as a hybrid author, and the tone of the original announcement by Amazon is almost inflammatory.

Amazon posted the publishing journey of author Vincent Zandri, who admittedly had a rocky start in what was almost an illustrious traditionally published career. After being promised a $250,000 advance, a number so high compared to some advances now that it’s almost laughable, his novel never went where he thought it would because of cost-cutting in the traditional publishing industry, especially within the major publishing houses. His book was published with little fanfare, and the sequel was never even released in hardcover.

Amazon’s post went on to explain how the Kindle Direct Publishing option became a lifesaver for Zandri, who met up with a smaller publisher who bought the rights to both of his books and republished them via Kindle. And while this story has a happy ending for Zandri and his writing career, it ultimately feels like more of the finger-pointing that once kept self-publishing and digital-only published authors away from the cool kids table in publishing.

Now that the traditional publishing industry is beginning to embrace self-published authors, seeing them as a talent pool of writers who come complete with their own firmly established followings and fan bases, it almost feels like the self-published authors want nothing to do with the industry they once couldn’t join. While acknowledging that a high number of hybrid authors are still hoping to be “discovered” and picked up by a traditional publisher a la Amanda Hocking or Tina Reber, it’s beginning to look as though the self-published authors are collectively telling the industry that once wouldn’t let them in: “You had your chance.”

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05/03/2011

Book Publishing Industry in Period of Long-Term Decline – No Kidding?


Tablets Killing Print Books

The advent of e-readers and tablet computers…providing convenient, rapid access to multi-media content and instant publishing…shook the very foundations of traditional publishing (TP)…No, they actually blew TP to smithereens!

The old bureaucratic and autocratic publishing model is gasping its last breadth. TP may be asked to hang around in the future as a ‘status symbol’ form of publishing for already successful e-publishers, but it will be done through a completely different business model…if at all.

You see…today we are ALL empowered publishers.    

These intriguing details provided by Nicholas Kolakowski  writing for eWeek.com :

Kindle, Nook, Other E-Readers Wrecking Publishing Industry: Report

Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and other e-readers could undermine the market for paper books, wrecking publishing industry revenue.

Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and other e-readers might dangle the prospect of convenience for millions of bibliophiles around the world, with their light weight and instant access to whole libraries of e-books, but a new analyst report suggests the devices could eventually prove bad news for the publishing industry as a whole.

“The book publishing industry has entered a period of long-term decline because of the rising sales of e-book readers,” reads an April 28 research note from IHS iSuppli, which predicted a decrease in book revenue at a compound annual rate of three percent through 2014—a reversal from the period between 2005 and 2010, when revenue rose.

For the traditional book publishing industry, the implications of the rise of the e-book and e-book reader markets are frightening, given the decline in paper book printing, distribution and sales,” Steve Mather, IHS iSuppli’s principal analyst for wireless, wrote in an April 28 statement. “The industry has entered a phase of disruption that will be as significant as the major changes impacting the music and movie business.”

The firm predicts that physical book sales will decline at a compound annual rate of 5 percent. While e-book sales will rise during that same period, the increase won’t cover the revenue gap created by the decline in the physical book market. By 2014, the research note predicts, e-books will occupy some 13 percent of U.S. book publishing revenue, more than twice its current level.   

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05/17/2010

Publishing Past is Over. But Publishing Future is Under Construction


While the traditional publishing biz model is gasping and dying before our eyes, newborn biz models are struggling to hatch completely…Models that are being forged by many factors such as the internet (YouTube, blogs, social media, POD), and other technology and apps proliferating media gadgets to make the “written Word” more comfortable and accessable in digital…

Publishing past is over. But publishing future is under construction.


I borrowed that cool phrase from Steve Rosenbaum (pictured at left) in an interview he did with Debbie Stier (former Associate Publisher of HarperStudio) for The Huffington Post in which they discuss “the best of times and the worst of times” in publishing:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

A great sentence that could well have been written about 2010 and the world of book publishing. For Debbie Stier, a lifelong member of Publishing’s elite, it would be easy to see the glass as half empty.

She was working as an Associate Publisher for HarperStudio, a forward thinking HarperCollins imprint that offered lower advances and more profit sharing with authors. But when Publisher Bob Miller announced he was leaving, HarperCollins pulled the plug on the HarperStudio operation. Stier was left an Editor at Large, somewhat a minister without portfolio, watching the business she loves struggle with gut-wrenching change.

Still, she’s grinning, ear to ear.

“Books aren’t going away,” said Stier. “I read on a iPhone, I read on a Kindle, I have a Sony and I have books. And I recently have made a return to books. And I have decided there are different kinds of reading, and there’s certain kinds of reading that’s ephemeral. There’s always going to be a place for printed books”

“It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”

For a seasoned marketer like Stier, finding a title starts with the reader.

“I start with, ‘Who is the audience for this book,’ and then, ‘How am I going to reach that person,'” she said. “And I have worked with many literary authors back in the day, five years ago, and seeing if you can get that author on NPR and maybe the New York Times Book Review. And there still is that. But now it also means teaching that author how to connect with their audience online. And a lot of the literary authors, it’s very hard for them to do. But I try and find that place. I always say, ‘If you had a magazine, what would your magazine be? Make that magazine on WordPress.'”

Stier’s authors are on the cutting edge, and there’s no better example of a cross over author than Gary Vanderchuk, the peripatetic preacher of Wine gospel (see: Wine Library TV) and fast rising business coach.

“I saw him speak at the Web 2.0 conference,” she said. “I had been following him on Twitter. I’d seen Wine Library TV, I knew what a phenomenon he was. I loved him, I thought he was great. But, then when I saw him speak at the Web 2.0 conference two years ago, I said, this guy has a book.”

“It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.”

Stier talks about authors in way that is personal, intimate and with a real sense that she gets them.

“I always knew, to be quite honest with you, that I was going to do a book with [Gary], from the second I saw him up there speaking, and I was like, that’s my guy,” she said. “The book was written here, out-loud, and I have a whole bunch of tape recording devices, and we start with an outline, and Gary just speaks it, and then we put it on paper, and we go from there.

And yet, getting books through the old system of publishing is a slow and painful process.

“It’s like a jar of peanut butter, and somebody says, ‘Okay, swim, swim through it.’ There are so many layers of why it’s difficult, you cant even believe,” she said. “So let’s say you have something that’s timely like Sarah Palin. And you can push it to the front of the publishing house, and get that done. Now you’ve got the stores to deal with. They’ve booked up their shelf space, six or eight months in advance. So that’s a layer of complication that you have to get through.”

But today publishers are embracing social media; they’re talking about Twitter, Facebook, blogs and webpages.

“I say that we’re down the rabbit hole,” said Stier, “and it feels to me, everyone gets what I’m talking about, and then I have these moments when I realize that it’s actually same 20 of us that are just bouncing ideas in the echo chamber off one another.”

“It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness.”

While books are central to Stiers world, she admits that even her habits are changing.

“I hate to even admit this, but I just recently cancelled my subscription to The Times. I had cancelled my print version a year or two ago. And then I was getting it on the Kindle and I realized: I don’t even read it on the Kindle.”

Read more http://alturl.com/p8dx

http://curationnation.magnify.net/embed/player/BBQ36V15NRFVWPPH

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