There’s a fascinating article in Business Week on Amazon’s venture into publishing. And the stark terror that’s gripping publishers as an result.
Sadly, it’s hard to argue that the blame for that lies anywhere than at the feet of the publishers themselves. As the article, Amazon’s Hit Man – BusinessWeek, says:
“Book publishing, an inefficient industry if there ever was one, seems ripe for reimagining. According to a recent report by the Association of American Publishers, sales of adult paperbacks and hardcovers fell 18 percent between 2010 and 2011. “
Publishers have leeched off writers for years.
Way back in 2000 I was an occasional reader of a writers’ forum. The forum was focused on book marketing.
Of course, publishers refused to create marketing campaigns for any writers unless the writer was a bestseller, and the house had committed millions in a book advance. They were protecting the money they’d invested.
I was shocked to my core when writer after writer said that they’d organized their own publicity for a book launch, spending not only their entire advance against royalties, but also their own savings (which some could ill afford.)
At first I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Why on earth were these writers bothering?
Since so many writers told the same tale, I assumed that writers were being told to do this by publishers — spend their advance on their own promotions. I thought that was unconscionable then, and I think the same now.
If ever an industry needed a good swift kick in the rear, it’s publishing. There are many wonderful people in publishing. The industry however, in its present state, deserves to die.
Back in the 1990s I interviewed the CEO of a major publishing house for an article. He was congratulating himself on a couple of takeovers. I thought then that publishing was in a death spiral — the entire industry was all about dollars, only. Not that I have anything against people making money. However, sooner or later, the money has to come from something REAL — not about smarties finding clever ways to make a buck. (See Wall St. for the smarties who will kill capitalism if they can.)
It’s time for people who read and and who love books to take over publishing. Whatever form the industry takes in the future, these people will create it.
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