quote: Publishing exists in a continual state of forecasting its own demise; at one major house, there is a running joke that the second book published on the Gutenberg press was about the death of the publishing business.
A very nice summary of information splattered in bits and pieces across the web elsewhere, complete with a balanced set of half-truths from all the major parties in their own words. Love the posturing on all sides of the issue. The most complete compilation of the current state of affairs I've read in one place. Thanks Rich, for pointing it out, and thanks Ken Auletta for writing it.
Posts: 389 | Registered: Aug 2008
| IP: Logged |
All I can think of is: Has Jobs approached Stephen King, or John Grisham, or Dan Brown? Or, has Amazon, for that matter?
All it would take is one of those guys to "self-publish", and New York will feel a small quake as the teeter-totter tips away from the Big Six, and the "middle-man" suddenly realizes he doesn't have a job anymore.
There will always be publishers, but I think the scope and breadth of what a publisher is will definitely change within the next ten years or so. But if you're a writer, perhaps there'll be even more opportunities to publish and get paid for what you write.
I love the part about publishers needing to build a relationship directly with the public. I've always thought it was strange that they didn't. Who goes searching for a Penguin book over a Harper Collins? Nobody. What a weird way to operate a business. Shouldn't they be branding themselves, offering membership cards and other incentives so readers will buy from their own houses and try their own new writers?
And I can't wait to pay an extra four bucks to get some extras along with my e-book. I love extras- playlists, interviews, deleted chapters, etc. I don't usually care about that with a movie, but I would love that for a book. Stephanie Meyer did that on her own website and it was awesome.
Actually, Rich, Stephen King has tread lightly into self-publishing, but I think it was about ten years ago.
I think the middle-(wo)men are going to need to do more so that the writers can do what they do best--write. It is a sad state of affairs when the business of promoting still has to say that the writer will also need to do a whole bunch of the work of promoting. Writers are smart, and if they have to do the work anyway they are going to look at ways to circumvent the gatekeepers.
quote:Writers are smart, and if they have to do the work anyway they are going to look at ways to circumvent the gatekeepers.
Though I will playfully disagree that writers are smart, technology is helping even those not-so-smart writers circumvent the gatekeepers.
King's entry into allowing readers to download his work was a success. One could argue (as the New York Times did) that the download "experiment" was a failure, but King netted over $400k* so I don't think that's a failure at all. And, as you noted babooher, that was 10 years ago.
King has not revisited the "experiment", and it's unlikely that he'll do something like this again without the consent of his publisher.
But if he did...
And to piggyback on to Betsy's questions, why AREN'T the publishing houses doing their own branding? Part of it is they just don't know how, but I think the larger part, and which The New Yorker alludes to, is that they still don't know what they're doing/how to manage online content.
To stick with King: Scribner/Amazon are charging $16.99 for Under the Dome. Kuh-razy price. And Simon and Schuster has it for the same price on their website. Which is ridiculous.
King and Rowling and Grisham don't have anything to worry about. But the mid-list writers are dying a slow death, and the publishers still haven't figured out what to do, which leaves it up to the writer to ensure everyone knows about the work.
Maybe the publishers should take a page from the old pulps. The pulp magazines from the 40s and 50s were able to sustain careers. That's what the big publishers should do: Create an online magazine, showcasing their writers across a variety of genres, and have a "big" writer contribute once a quarter. It's free, but for a year's subscription (say, $9.99) you get the ezine, AND some goodies from the "big" writers, whether it's an autographed book, or a podcast, or whatever.
Amazon got where it is today by losing money for over 5 years. Publishers may have to adopt the same scorched-earth policy if they want to be here ten years from now.
I appreciate your post. I agree with your arguments and really feel that the model for e-publishing to everyone's benefit is non-existent.
You've got publishers with great quality control, distribution and marketing muscle, but want high prices. ($14.00 and up). Then you've got the online book guys who have uneven quality control, limited distribution and miniscule marketing selling ebooks for a more reasonable price.
The whole marketing model will have to change to get ebooks promoted. Lots of things yet to happen. With the iPad coming on stream, it may accelerate those things.