Aussie Readers discussion

40 views
Archives > Past perfect: future looks bleak for publishers

Comments Showing 1-37 of 37 (37 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Ann (new)

Ann Massey (flyingfinish) | 52 comments Is the golden age of publishing over

‘You can keep on knocking but you can’t come in - is no longer true as the market is swamped by self-published books. Droves of writers are bypassing publishing houses in favour of DIY. No longer does an author wanting to self publish have to commit a large sum of money upfront to buy thousands of copies of his title and then have to sell them himself. One of the most welcome by-products of digital technology has been the development of on-line publishers that offer free publishing tools to assist aspiring writers to complete and sell their work without having to spend a cent.

How does DIY affect publishers

Ironically, it is the excluders who are finding themselves excluded. Mainstream publishers that would only consider work submitted by a literary agent, the famous or, a relative of someone eminent in the literary industry, are being bypassed by a new breed of writers who refuse to slink away, completely demoralized. It’s true that independent authors can’t compete with mainstream publishers when it comes down to selling to book chains but book shops are on the wane and on-line shopping is in ascendancy and you don’t need a sales/marketing /publicity department or a huge budget to market on the net.

It has always been difficult for self-published authors to be taken seriously by the literary reviewers, snobbishness is alive and well in the media. But the media is small bikkies compared to the world wide web. Savvy writers are writing blogs or articles, joining book communities, forums and social networking to market their books on the net and, the general public doesn’t give a toss. The publisher doesn’t come into the equation when it comes to buying a book.

What lies ahead

The future doesn’t look good for publishers with sky rocketing printing costs, decreasing numbers of retail outlets, escalation in on-line shopping and acceptance by readers of e-books Competition from hordes of independent authors who are prepared to take control of their own destinies is just another nail in the coffin.

http://thebiocideconspiracy.com
http://ann-massey.blogspot.com
http://annmasseyauthor.blogspot.com


message 2: by Mandapanda (new)

Mandapanda An interesting point of view about publishers from Eoin Purcell, a publishing industry analyst and commentator.

Publishers, Stop Being Craven, Forge Your Own Future

"For some time there has been a funny dichotomy in the publishing industry worldwide.

On the one hand publishers have decried the growing influence of powerful tech companies from outside the industry. Google, Amazon, Apple all fall into that category (Amazon aside from being an impressive online retailer is also an amazing tech company). They are feared and despised both as huge outside firms with enormous capabilities and cash compared with publishers and also as companies driving the industry in a direction it wasn’t keen on going.

On the other hand, various parts of the industry have gushed about the latest moves by these companies, Apple’s launch of the iPad as a media’s saviour, Google EBooks as a game changer or now, Google’s One Pass as a way to beat Apple’s new and restrictive trading terms for content bought in App by consumers.

Perhaps the only exception to this has been Amazon who, despite being one of the most innovative and reader friendly companies in the business, has been routinely lambasted. Even it’s clever and effective popularization of ebooks and ereading was seen as a BAD thing. Amazon, it seems, can do no right!

Well I’m sick of it. I tired of hearing the industry complain and point one minute then jump up and down in happiness at the anticipation of NEW things SAVING content the next. I’m tired of bad strategy decisions prompted by poorly thought out positions. I’m really bored with people arguing about why this or that needs protection and honestly I don’t care what Apple does next.

Lots of sensible people have been talking about what publishers should be doing to make their OWN way towards a sustainable future. Mike Shatzkin has written about it, so has Brian O’Leary, Don Linn and Kassia Krozser, many, many others have too. But none of it seems to impact the mainstream discussion.

■ Here’s a simple truth: the web (in particular digital distribution of content) is undermining the existing economic model for publishing
■ A second: the author is gaining power vis-a-vis the publisher
■ A third: the existing system cannot persist, the parts of the industry that don’t change, will fail
■ And a last one: YOU are responsible for your own future and it’s time you stopped waiting for someone else to make it happen". Read more here.


message 3: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline George (jacquelinegeorge) All interesting stuff. Whatever the future holds, we can be sure it will be very different.

One thing I am not quite sure about, and that is authors gaining power vis-a-vis the publishers. As far as I understand, publishers live on one of the moons of Neptune. I am not sure if agents share the same mini-planet or have one of their own. Whatever - they do not affect me in the slightest, and I am sure they are not lying awake at night thinking about the limited sales I make.


message 4: by Mark (new)

Mark Adair (markadairauthor) Excellent posts! And a very interesting time to be alive for writers...not necessarily easy but interesting and exciting. I'm hoping that the traditional publishers find their place in the new paradigm - a collaborative/supportive place.

I'd like to see their years of expertise be put to use but they'll need to understand that they no longer hold the keys to the kingdom and readers care less every day about their opinions of what should or should not come to market. They can play a role but a much diminished one from what they've historically played.

I think we've learned through over industry migrations that if the old school experts don't adapt they will be left behind. That same kind of merciless power that they've held tightly in their grasps over the decades will run right over them if they don't submit themselves to its fast forward motion and direction.

...interesting times...


message 5: by Mandapanda (new)

Mandapanda I'm just reposting a message written by group member and Publisher, Diane (from the general chat thread).

"I am a publisher (we do our own distribution) and it's hardly surprising that Borders went belly up. Firstly they operated out of the US then New Zealand and they have always been elusive. Very hard to get them to take our books then they always 'lost' invoices so it was difficult to extract money from them. Did they drag the others down? Who knows? How will this affect the A & R franchise owners who may be in better financial shape than the 'parent' company?
There are excellent bookshops, independent bookshops invariably, and people go to them for an old-fashioned book-buying experience which is almost meditative and a welcome break from much of life's daily grind. Abbey's in York St. Sydney, Ariel Books at Paddington, Gleebooks in Glebe, Paperchain at Manuka ACT, the store at the new portrait gallery in the ACT is excellent - these are just a few of my favourites. I could go directly to a publishing house and get a standard industry discount but I'd rather go to a bookshop. The cost is not the driving factor. I do buy books online, specific titles usually that have a later release date in Australia. Why does this happen? Maybe so the Oz release coincides with an author tour. But it's frustrating if you've read a review and you want to buy the book. Half the time I think it's just a case of not being on the ball; the sleepy syndrome.
Most days I spend lashed to a computer so I view reading a book as a break from this so I haven't gone down the kindle track yet, but I might in the future.
I think the market will decide who survives in the book trade and the best bookshops will be here for a while, even while on-line shopping and e-books increase."


message 6: by Mandapanda (new)

Mandapanda Diane wrote: "There are excellent bookshops, independent bookshops invariably, and people go to them for an old-fashioned book-buying experience which is almost meditative and a welcome break from much of life's daily grind..."

I agree about the rise of great independant bookshops Diane. Some of my faves in Brisbane are the 2 Coaldrakes bookstores (in the Barracks and the Emporium) and the Avid Reader at West End. Plenty of people have listed their favourite bookstores in our discussion, 'Where do you buy your books?': http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/3...


message 7: by Ann (new)

Ann Massey (flyingfinish) | 52 comments Mandy wrote: "An interesting point of view about publishers from Eoin Purcell, a publishing industry analyst and commentator.

Publishers, Stop Being Craven, Forge Your Own Future

"For some time there has ..."


4604183 I think 'The Golden Age' of publishing is in FRONT of us.

I received this interesting comment to my post from Emily and would like to share:

NY literary agents have reported receiving up to 15,000 queries a year in the recent past. With only 6 to 8 titles making the gauntlet and the rest back-listed, something was bound to give way.

That 'give way' was the advent of eReaders, ease and access of publishing platforms to debut authors [not to mention authors who are now, as I type, trying to wrest their work away from publishers so that they too can get in on the self-publish boom. The perfect storm resulting in threatening clouds on the horizon for publishing houses.

It's a literary sport now to watch Robin Sullivan's '1000 list' grow as ePub authors hit the jackpot [Hocking, Konrath, Winters, et al] Why, two weeks ago PW cited a poll of agents, 90% of whom stated that they had big name clients looking at the option of self-publishing for their future works. PW noted that the agents polled "were not worried" about this emerging flight toward more fair royalties. "Not worried"? I had to stifle a guffaw!

You are correct! DIY absolutely does affect traditional publishers who are trying to convert as many titles as possible to eReader format [news of Alex Haley's 'Roots' comes immediately to mind] to keep up with the trend. And Alan Rinzler declaring 2010 as 'the year self-publishing lost its stigma'.

You are a successful futurist, Ms. Massey, when you cite the eventual demise of big publishing houses. All Smart Cookies Can Self-Publish A One-Step-at-A-Time 2011 Guide to Independent Publishing


message 8: by Mandapanda (last edited Mar 02, 2011 11:12PM) (new)

Mandapanda Sneaky price fixing by Big 6 Publishers

Read this very interesting article and comments from the Teleread website:

"It used to be the Agency 5, now it’s the Agency 6 as Random House has caved and instituted agency pricing. This further changes my book-buying habits.

Let me start by saying that I am not outright opposed to the agency system. What I am opposed to — and appalled by — is the pricing. Granted that Agency 6 pricing clearly demonstrates lack of competition bordering on price collusion (Isn’t it amazing how similar the Agency 6 ebook pricing is across the board?), but that isn’t the primary problem I have: The primary problem is that the selected price points are extortionate considering the restrictions imposed in the license (and note that it is a changeable, revocable license). Compound this with Rupert Murdoch’s greedy ploy, through his HarperCollins subsidiary, aimed at libraries, the last bastion for education of the poor, and what you have is a devil’s cabal." Read more.


message 10: by Velvetink (new)

Velvetink | 136 comments NEWS....Borders and Angus & Robertson closing....
Hundreds lose jobs as A&R, Borders stores close
http://www.theage.com.au/national/hun...


message 11: by Ann (new)

Ann Massey (flyingfinish) | 52 comments Times are hard in Australia for self-published authors - it's harder for a new author to get published than it is to win the lottery. The government has colluded with the major publishers and book chains to keep Amazon out with the result that independent authors have no option than to sell their books on Amazon US and adding $10.95 postage to the cover price. You have to want a book 'real bad' to pay the freight cost!! Seems like e-books is the only fair playing field


message 12: by Mandapanda (new)

Mandapanda Here's a presentation by Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, a runaway success in the new indie book publishing world.

Nietzsche and the Downfall of Big Publishing

"In the dark alleyways of publishing, an author uprising is brewing against Big Publishing." Read more.


message 13: by Velvetink (new)

Velvetink | 136 comments thanks for the link Mandy! Smashwords looks good too.


message 14: by Geoff (new)

Geoff Woodland | 313 comments You don't require an e-book reader - just use your computer . . . .

It's International Read an E-Book week from 06th to 12th March, when the E-book turns forty, believe it or not – I didn't until I read the history. It's celebration time!

Check the link - http://www.ebookweek.com/index.html

For authors connected with Smashwords, which is one of the sponsors of International Read E Book week, we have the opportunity to offer our e-book version of our work at discounted prices for the whole of the week. DRM free!

My novel Ice King is on offer at 50% discount during E-Book week, which means a 482 page historical novel for $1.50, in the format of your choice from Smashwords web site, click on this link http://www.smashwords.com/books/searc...

Spread the word and get in early as the Smashwords system crashed last year due to the volume of downloaded books.

The Smashword discounted catalogue goes live for the International Read an E-Book week at one minute past midnight (0001 hr) on the 06th March, US Pacific time, and expires at 11.59 (2359 hr) 12th March.

Good reading! (please excuse the pun :-o) )


message 15: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 05, 2011 07:35PM) (new)

Wow, 40 years. They really have taken a long time to capture peoples attention. Does that mean readers are slow to grasp new technologies do you think? It almost deserves it's own discussion thread. ;)


message 16: by Geoff (new)

Geoff Woodland | 313 comments I think their forty years is drawing a long bow - you'd have to read the ebookweek link for the 'full' story.

From what I have read the week was very successful last year. At the end of the week I'll be able to see if they were telling the truth from a humble scribe's point of view . . . . .
I'm off to Malaysia a week on Monday so it'll be the end of the month before I'll know if the e-book week worked.
If nothing else I thought it would be worth a 'go' - nothing ventured etc :-o)


message 17: by Geoff (new)

Geoff Woodland | 313 comments for Monday please read - a week on Monday i.e 14th March, not tomorrow . . .


message 18: by Mandapanda (new)

Mandapanda Geoff wrote: "You don't require an e-book reader - just use your computer . . . . It's International Read an E-Book week from 06th to 12th March, when the E-book turns forty, believe it or not – I didn't until..."

Thanks for that Geoff! I might do a little thread just for this special week, maybe get some people to try an ebook on their computer. Hope you sell LOTS OF BOOKS!!!!


message 19: by Mandapanda (new)

Mandapanda More news on the charges of price-fixing of ebooks by the Big 5 publishers.

More raids in price-fixing probe. Publishers “explain” high ebook pricing

"The Guardian has a piece today on the raids, which includes quotes from some publishers trying to explain or defend the fixing of pricing so that prices are generally much higher and must be the same at all online bookstores needing Agreements with the Big 5, with no way for the online stores to offer sales or lower prices no matter what the case. Random House has decided not to join Agency pricing in Europe during this time of probing questions." Read more.


message 20: by Ann (new)

Ann Massey (flyingfinish) | 52 comments Thanks for the link to Smashwords - I didn't know about them.


message 21: by Geoff (new)

Geoff Woodland | 313 comments http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archive...

Check this link - Who wants a free Kindle ??????
If this guy is correct by Christmas, Amazon might be happy to pay us to accept a Kindle :-o)


message 22: by Mandapanda (new)

Mandapanda I have been thinking that for a while Geoff. Recently I had a problem with my Kindle and I phoned them up (yes I actually could speak to someone from the US about my problem). I hardly had to describe the problem at all before they offered to send me a new Kindle at no cost. I received it in the post within a week. Really unprecedented customer service. Particularly for an OS company. At the time I thought that they may as well give Kindles away these days because I'm sure they make their money on the books.

That website you linked to is fantastic! What a smart guy. I also enjoyed the '1000 True Fans' post and the 'Cloud Culture' post (which I'm going to link in to our 'Cloud' thread). Thanks for posting.


message 23: by Geoff (new)

Geoff Woodland | 313 comments http://www.smh.com.au/small-business/...

I saved the article from the above link - it was in Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald - I have yet to go through all the links


message 24: by Ann (new)

Ann Massey (flyingfinish) | 52 comments Geoff wrote: "http://www.smh.com.au/small-business/...

I saved the article from the above link - it was in Saturday's Sydney Morning ..."


Thanks for the link. I'm particularly interested in managing email mail outs of my newsletter.


message 25: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Lang (matthewlang) | 143 comments Well I do know that my publisher recently changed our eBook prices to bring them into line with what was being charged over at Amazon... but then, Amazon is one of the biggest avenues for selling books, so in a sense they do have the power to enforce their prices on things like eBooks across the board.

In response to Diane, I would say one of the reasons for the much delayed release date in Australia is printing--often books aren't printed here and must be shipped in from the country where they're being printed. My book won't hit the shelves for at least six weeks after it goes on sale in the US because it'll take that long for them to get shipped across. Granted, I'm a small writer in a niche market, and consider myself lucky to have the support of Bulldog Books (the distributor), who have requested to get it straight off the press, but there's still going to be a delay.

I'd also point out that self-publishing shouldn't mean the end to a publishing house, although it will likely force them to change their models somewhat.

A good publisher still provides some very important functions, most important of which is the editing process. A really good editor can make a good book great and an okay book into a fantastic read. A dedicated publishing house can also really help drive sales in promotion and advertising. Yes, an author can (and should) be doing as much as they can to promote a book, but an established publisher with all the contacts has a shortcut to all the different distribution sites for eBooks for example, as well as a lot of the review sites.

I keep getting told of the 'guy who wrote a book, uploaded it onto Amazon and sold about 45 copies to all his family and friends and then nothing happened'. The problem with self publishing is that as self-published books glut the market, it'll be increasingly hard to reach a wide following as people will find it harder and harder to find your book out of the millions available. We would then run the very great risk of consumer choice overload--where consumers (readers) have so many choices that they give up and stick with someone (or a series) that they already know, which would tend to give the attention and monies back to those who have the best promotion and coverage of the market--who would tend to be the ones backed by publishing houses or those formerly backed by publishing houses and already big names in their own right.

That's not to say I disapprove of self-publishing. It's certainly better than vanity publishing. I just think there are and continue to be benefits to being with the right publishing house, although I certainly couldn't comment on whether any of the big houses would be 'right' in that instance.


message 26: by Geoff (new)

Geoff Woodland | 313 comments http://www.smh.com.au/national/letter...

Check out this link - perhaps we have gone too far. How many time have I visited a library to borrow a book and ended up borrowing a number of others because they 'looked' interesting or had related material to the subject I was after - the answer is nearly always! Would I be able to browse with the same confidence via a computer, perhaps but it'll not be the same.


message 27: by Mandapanda (last edited Mar 08, 2011 06:36PM) (new)

Mandapanda That's an interesting opinion piece Geoff. I find the tone to be a little hysterical though, e.g.:

"It is 50 years almost to the day that Ray Bradbury published his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, an allegory about book-burning and the suppression of ideas. He meant it as a warning and I don't suppose he really expected it to become fact. He would be galled and appalled to learn that it has."

I personally don't see the University's culling of paper copies of textbooks as synonymous with the dire warnings of Fahrenheit 451. I imagine the digital age is being embraced by Universities who will need a lot less space to store their information (paper books and journals being replaced by e-versions). And by students who are probably paying tens if not hundreds of dollars less for their text books and not having to lug them around.

I prefer this reply to the article, "As lovely and historically significant as books are, they are not more important than digital texts and non-text artefacts. The use of books is shrinking because using electronic texts is faster, easier and better for the environment. Critics should not crucify university or community libraries for choosing not to be a ''museum of the book''.


message 28: by Geoff (new)

Geoff Woodland | 313 comments What I posted was the letters page
http://www.smh.com.au/technology/tech...
the above link is the original article :-o)


message 29: by Mandapanda (last edited Mar 08, 2011 07:13PM) (new)

Mandapanda Thanks! Still they all sound like a bunch of old fuddy-duddies to me, especially 'Professor Slezak'. Has he only just now noticed that students are sitting around with their laptops and a coffee?? LOL

"They're getting rid of books to make space for students to sit around, have lunch and plug their laptops in. Bizarrely, they've turned the library into a kind of a Starbucks,'' Professor Slezak said."


message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Geoff wrote "...perhaps we have gone too far. How many time have I visited a library to borrow a book and ended up borrowing a number of others because they 'looked' interesting or had related material to the subject I was after - the answer is nearly alwaysWould I be able to browse with the same confidence via a computer, perhaps but it'll not be the same".

But is there not the possibility it will be better?

How many books have you missed out on even knowing about let alone reading because your local library or book store doesn't have them?

How many books have you never read because they not published in Australia?

Browsing for eBooks is increasingly a global phenomenon and sometimes you don't even have to break the law to acquire things not published in Australia.

As for the pulping of library books it has been happening forever. I was a library assistant duing my studies in the mid 1980's and books were gotten rid of at the end of each year - out of date ones, ones that had not been borrowed in forever etc. All libaries have a finite amount of space and can't take on new books in addition to keeping everything they've ever had on its shelves.

I for one like being able to trawl the whole world for books in English (sadly the only language I can read).

I like not having to build extra rooms in my own house to make room for all my lovely eBooks.

I like being able to take dozens of books on holiday with me and not having to pay excess baggage fees because they all fit neatly into my handbag.

A printed book is just a format. Like the papyrus before it. The written word as a means of providing information and entertainment to others is not going anywhere (good heavens it seems like every second person I meet is writing a book these days) and I am pretty sure the end of the world is not, in fact, nigh and we are not seeing the end of books or reading. Even print books will continue well into the future but in a University setting, where often text books change each year or two, it seems entirely practical and smart to adopt new technologies that allow the students to access a broader range of books, more up to date books and maybe even not end up with back injuries from lugging around 15 kilos of science texts as I did back in the day.


message 31: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Lang (matthewlang) | 143 comments What I'd like to know is whether an eRecord is maintained. I know the Melbourne University libraries tend to try to put their older documents (such as newspapers) onto microfilm, which is easier to browse and assuming the material has archival importance, safer for students to browse.

Personally, for pure research purposes, I'd rather go by computer record for searching out relevant texts and articles than have to find a back issue of a journal in physical form. Not to mention that for so many textbooks, new versions come out every year or so rendering the older versions relatively useless (unless the changes are purely cosmetic).


message 32: by Geoff (new)

Geoff Woodland | 313 comments I agree with you to an extent re the holiday 15 kg of excess - I have the problem of taking a couple and buying a pile overseas because they are cheaper than Oz, so the XS is homeward bound when I'm broke :-o)

My earliest, happiest memories are of weekly trips to the library with my mum and I still get the same thrill at the potential for escape when I open a book that is new to me.
Recognise the quote :-o)
This happy memory may not be available to our children (in my case great grandchildren, as my grandchildren visit the library) but I do understand that books have to be culled. It is fortunate that someone had the bright idea to send some of them to Timor.
When doing research one can have open several books for various opinions, and your eyes move quickly from one to the other. You can see more than one page at the same time - but with an e-reader you may be able to have the same books open, but each time you check something against the passage that you are reading you lose that passage as you open another page. On the large desk tops you may be able to open two or even three pages but the screen is not as conducive to reading as the printed paper.
Perhaps in a few years it will be cheap enough for us to buy table top computers and you can do the same eye scan on the electronic desk top - the two latest James Bond films comes to mind where they used this desktop technology of moving info around with their finger. I just wish they'd hurry up a lower the prices, I can't live for ever :-o)


message 33: by Geoff (new)

Geoff Woodland | 313 comments Sorry my reply was to Bernadette not Mathew


message 34: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Lang (matthewlang) | 143 comments Geoff wrote: "When doing research one can have open several books for various opinions, and your eyes move quickly from one to the other. You can see more than one page at the same time - but with an e-reader you may be able to have the same books open, but each time you check something against the passage that you are reading you lose that passage as you open another page. On the large desk tops you may be able to open two or even three pages but the screen is not as conducive to reading as the printed paper. "

Agreed, but I tended to have them in multiple windows and ALT-tabbed between them. If I needed hard copies for ease of reading... I printed them out...


message 35: by Mandapanda (last edited Mar 08, 2011 10:51PM) (new)

Mandapanda Geoff wrote: "My earliest, happiest memories are of weekly trips to the library with my mum and I still get the same thrill at the potential for escape when I open a book that is new to me..."

What's the quote??? I'm curious now. Is it something by Mark Twain??? or Oscar Wilde??? LOL


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

It was a little cruel not to tell us. :)


message 37: by Mandapanda (new)

Mandapanda Here's a fiery article from the new BOOKU Aussie ebookstore blog:

Are Publishers Losing the Hearts and Minds of Readers?

Here’s a fact that might not surprise you very much: the internet is full of idiots. The idiots come in many flavours, but the kinds of idiots who are annoying me this week are some of the people who write blogs about ebooks.

Let’s kick off this discussion with a few choice quotes from some blog posts I’ve read in the last week or so:

From Delimiter: Publishers in Australia refuse to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 19th century, let alone the 21st century … The Publishers in Australia are heavily addicted to the large margins that Australian books traditionally generate … Publishers are trying to protect their rivers of gold (book sales) by pricing eBooks in such way that makes them less attractive.

I kid you not – RIVERS OF GOLD, people. That’s what publishers are making from paper books: RIVERS. OF. GOLD.

From BookBee: In either case, Billbo posits that publishers are publishing poor-quality ebooks as a Cee Lo Green-style “f$&ck you” to the medium in general, because they’re frustrated … This is so out there that I hadn’t even considered it to be possible … But, really thinking about it, it may well be true. This is the kind of bloody-minded thing that a control freak manager who has had things go his own way for decades might actually do … Yes – sheer madness. Sadly, some publishers have form in the madness stakes.

That’s right, readers: publishers – particularly control freak publishers – are deliberately introducing errors into ebooks because they don’t like them. Read more.


back to top