Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

12/07/2015

The Parallel Universe of Publishing


In the traditional or conventional publishing world, there is more and more ‘dark matter’ flying around that it cannot control or measure. This dark matter is generated by the ever-increasing and evolving digital or ebook side of the publishing universe; AND, since traditional publishing (TP) cannot control or measure all the new digital data with the old paper-related devices such as ‘rights’ management (that’s “precisely what DRM represents: an absurd and pathetic attempt to recreate in the digital realm a command-and-control system that profits off the characteristics of *paper*”) then TP simply makes statements such as “digital or ebooks are down or losing sales.”

Truth is, TP cannot ‘measure’ all this increasing ‘dark matter’ that holds much more favorable digital data. So their statistics are skewed or inaccurate based on incomplete data.

Talk about publishing intrigue!

Len Epp, a contributor to TechCrunch, delves into this dark matter in detail in tonight’s research/resource article:

 

On The Dark Matter Of The Publishing Industry

Key excerpts:

“Recently there were a pair of revealing eruptions in the world of ebooks and the volatile book publishing industry more generally.

The first was the announced demise of Oyster, an ebook subscription startup based in New York and backed by $17 million in VC funding.

While the announcement of Oyster’s shutdown is remarkable for its lack of transparency, apparently after its sun sets, Oyster’s excellent e-book reader expertise will be transferred to Google in the form of its founders and probably some of its tech or even the entire company, but perhaps not its pricey ebook contracts with publishers.”

“Now, there were some very smart people backing Oyster, and I suspect that a) they correctly saw that awesome tech would succeed in driving ebook reading, b) they had some kind of plan to monetize their user base, but ran into the common problem of being unable to finance a longer runway than they hoped for, which happened because c) their West Coast-y VC-style optimism prevented them from fully internalizing the willfully destructive, cynical recalcitrance of the incumbent publishers who, perhaps knowing what they were doing, forced Oyster into senseless, self-sabotaging ebook contracts.”

“There was more bad, meaning good, news to come. The next day, the New York Times gleefully reported that ebook sales were down in general. The surprising news was predictably greeted with what Mathew Ingram memorably called “a whiff of anti-digital Schadenfreude”.

Problem was, the news wasn’t just untrue, it was obviously untrue.”

“Essentially, the numbers the New York Times article was based on were limited to just 1,200 publishers, all of them being what is euphemistically referred to as “traditional” publishers — meaning “doorstopper” paper codex publishers whose business is essentially composed of a highly structured web of legal arrangements that historically evolved to maximize profit from the various physical characteristics of, you guessed it, the paper codex.”

“It was like the “traditional” publishing industry just pretended the ebooks being traded outside its own grumpy universe didn’t exist, because their “traditional” methods of tracking couldn’t see them.”

Open the door into the rest of the dark matter and publishing intrigue in The Parallel Universe of Publishing.

 

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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.”

Read and learn more

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02/16/2012

History Says: Book Publishing Will Survive Digital Age


Book Publishing Survival?

How many times have you heard the old adage ‘if history is any indication …’

Well, I found a little history and intrigue RE the publishing industry that points out its numerous fights for survival against medieval digital-age-like challenges 🙂 The results of these scrimmages may point to a future outcome a little different than envisioned by some today enamored with all things digital. 

From Bloomberg.com by Ellen F. Brown:

Why Book Publishing Can Survive Digital Age

Word on the street is that the publishing industry is under attack by technology. Amazon.com Inc. has launched a bare-knuckled assault against independent bookstores. Print-on-demand firms make it possible for anyone to get his work on the market, and thus threaten to render agents and editors obsolete. And with e-books priced so low, how can authors and booksellers earn a decent living?

Yet the publishing industry has a long history of weathering these sorts of challenges, and its past offers some optimism for the future.

In the 1920s, drug, grocery and department stores gave booksellers fits by offering popular titles at cut-rate prices. An old industry yarn tells the story of a flapper looking to buy lipstick. She walks into a bookstore and excuses herself when she realizes she had made a mistake. “I’m sorry,” she says, “I thought this was a drugstore, I saw books in the window.”

Also problematic was the Book of the Month Club, a distribution company founded in 1926 that sold inexpensive hardcover versions of popular books through mail order. Within 10 years of its founding, the club had almost 200,000 members. Ten years later, there were more than 50 imitator clubs in North America with more than 3 million participants.

And, of course, there was the ultimate competitor to bookstores: public libraries. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, communities across the U.S. funded the construction of facilities where books could be had for free, albeit only on loan.

Then came the “paperback revolution.” According to Publishers Weekly, word spread at the 1939 American Booksellers Convention that “some reckless publisher” was going to bring out a series of paperback reprints of popular novels to be sold for only a quarter a piece. The industry was equal measures aghast at the nerve of such a plan — American readers had proved notoriously resistant to paperbacks — and terrified that it might succeed. Major publishers fretted that, if the books proved popular, the reprints would kill hardcover sales of the featured titles. Most booksellers refused to stock the series, unwilling to compete with their existing inventories of full-priced books.

Undeterred by the negative buzz, publisher Robert de Graff advertised his New Pocket Books directly to readers with a mail-order coupon system and to wholesalers who sold magazines to newsstands and grocery stores. He touted his books as small enough to be carried in a pocket or purse and “as handy as a pencil, as modern and convenient as a portable radio — and as good looking.”

The industry watched with amazement when the books sold like wildfire. Skeptical publishers couldn’t remain aloof for long in the face of such obvious success and rushed to produce their own lines of paperback reprints.

Read and learn more

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