Saturday, September 3, 2011

Publishing News

I've been busy.  So instead of following the publishing industry as usual, I've been dropping out grammar-and-such posts.

But not today.  Today, it's another tour of the publishing industry as a whole: links to articles and blogs that are highly relevant to today's writers.  But not like usual.  Using one of my favorite blogs, Nathan Bradford's, I want to do a little tour of the effect of ePublishing on the industry, and where traditional publishing stands in contrast. 

 I'm going to point out an old blog of Nathan Bradford's, The Greatest Challenge Agents Face.  Posted in January, he mentioned the problem of standarized splits - that is, an across-the-board author/publisher split that is non-negotiable.  What do agents do for writers?  Among other things, their duties include getting the writer published, and getting the writer a good deal.  But if all writers go self-publishing, and there's a standarized non-negotiable contract, agents aren't needed anymore.

I bring this post up because it relates to a slightly more recent post: 99-cent E-Books and the Tragedy of the Commons.  E-book pricing is still a huge debate in the industry, so despite the fact that this blog first posted in April 2011, it's highly relevant.  The gist is that new writers (at least in eBooks) are being pressured to sell their new books for as little as possible - $.99 or less - which is, in turn, setting the stage for the next generation of writers.  On the other hand, this benefits no one.  Therefore, the industry begins finding ways to charge more for books.  Thus, eventually and hopefully, a balance will be found in which writers still make money.

And both of these, in turn, relate to the perceived value of books.  It still takes many authors a year - or years - to write their books.  What is the value of that effort?  How much should a reader pay for a book?  As new authors publish at lower prices, the market begins to expect lower prices. Amanda Hocking and the 99-cent Kindle Millionaires are setting  a trend - but, as in the Tragedy of the Commons, at what price?

To fight back, booksellers are trying something innovative: readjusting their profit model.  Some E-Books Cost More than the Hardcover, at least they did last March.  This has led to a slow-down of the EBook taking over the industry completely. 

But it's still a mostly-physical book world, anyway, as you'll note with a thorough read of Amanda Hocking and the 99-Cent Kindle Millionaires.  In fact, a lot of those e-pub names are now breaking into print.  This past week,  Simon & Schuster Handle Sales and Distribution for John Locke, and other Kindle names are joining the bandwagon.  Simply put, more people are buying physical books than e-books.  Maybe that will change.  But, as I've said before, not everyone has e-readers - and it will be a very, very long time until everyone does.

To further explain the exodus from e to print, I'll end with a glimpse of Bradford's Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing: Which Way Will Make You More Money, another old (March) blog.  These authors will probably sell more than 70K print books; therefore, they will make more money in print than on an e-platform.  By using both platforms, they get the best of both worlds.

I know - all of these are from Bradford's point of view, and many of them are months old in a rapidly changing industry.  So here's your opportunity to round things out: Go find me other articles about where things are now.  And please weigh in: what do you think the state of self-publishing is versus traditional publishing?  Which route will you be taking?

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