Publishers Desperately Trying To Protect Print Sales, And Failing

It has been apparent for quite some time that large publishers had been desperately trying to slow the (inevitable) transition to e-books – much as they might deny it. Despite all the breathless talk of “transmedia” and “metadata” and the furious rate of backlist digitization, the overarching strategy was clear: protect print sales at all costs, and pray that e-books will plateau soon (and that international markets won’t take to them with quite the same relish). This is the only logical conclusion from tactics that include pricing e-books artificially high (even, allegedly, going as far as price-fixing, for which they are being investigated by the EU, the (US) Justice Department, and are the subject of a number of class action Read More…

Why The Digital Revolution Threatens Large Publishers

I think I’ve made a robust case for a digital future, but I’m less sure I’ve convincingly explained why the digital revolution threatens large publishers. In Thursday’s post, we looked at the recent BookStats survey of the American publishing industry. Some are touting its results as evidence that publishing is in rude health. I argued that the report only covers the very beginning of the e-book explosion that began late last year which has radically changed the marketplace, and which will adversely affect the fortunes of the larger publishers. That sparked a vigorous discussion in the comments, and one person (correctly) pointed out that lots of those big-selling e-books are being sold by the large publishers, that they have huge Read More…

How To Keep An Open Mind

The publishing industry is changing at the speed of light. The massive disruption caused by the killer combination of e-books, the internet, the Kindle, and open distribution systems like Amazon have changed the business forever. Disruption on this scale is never pretty. Businesses will go under. People will lose their jobs. Many writers will struggle to adapt to change. Others will find opportunities and thrive. To ensure you are in the latter group, you must continually challenge your assumptions. As little as eight months ago, I was skeptical about the Digital Revolution. I didn’t think e-books would soon become the dominant format. I thought it would take, at the very least, a generation for print to fall out of favor. Read More…

Top UK Agent Announces Publishing Imprint

There was some interesting news in The Bookseller yesterday. Ed Victor, one of the top UK agents, has announced he is setting up his own publishing division – Bedford Square Books. We have talked on this blog before about The Digital Revolution and what the future will hold for agents. I predicted a split in the agent community as some morph into publishers and others re-focus into being authors’ advocates. I also talked about how there was some tension already. Andrew Wylie made waves last year when he announced Odyssey Editions – his own imprint to publish his authors’ backlists (including Roth, Bellow, and Updike) – rights which had reverted from trade deals. Scott Waxman has set up his own publishing company Read More…

The Future Has Happened Already: E-books Overtake Paperback Sales in the U.S.

E-books are now the #1 selling format in the U.S.  And that’s not just in terms of volume, but in dollars too. The Association of American Publishers (AAP) yesterday released sales figures for the month of February, and I was blown away.  E-book sales (year on year) grew over 200%.  They now comprise 29.5% of the market.  And this is only e-book data from 16 of the biggest publishers reporting versus 84 publishers reporting print data, the real number could be higher. But the headline news was this: e-books are the top-selling format across all trade categories. More than paperback!

Lets Get Digital, Digital

Why did CDs triumph over tapes and records? CDs were more expensive, less robust, you had to buy a special piece of equipment to enjoy them, the sound quality on a good record player was better (despite the marketing claims), and (initially at least) piracy was next-to-impossible. Also, moving to CD meant you would have to re-purchase your entire collection. Convenience.