1. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    A challenge to all:

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by NaCl, Sep 17, 2008.

    TWErvin2 made a post below featuring an article about the serious problems facing the publishing industry. Here it is:

    http://nymag.com/news/media/50279/

    I believe in every adversity, there is opportunity. What possibilities do you see in the changes faced by this industry? How do you (or would you) take advantage of the situation? Exactly what is going to change? Will physical books vanish, replaced by down loadable eBooks or perhaps paper-based books will continue to exist, only distributed in some new fashion like internet sales?

    What's gonna happen and how can writers cash in on the changes?
     
  2. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wow, depressing article but really thorough review of the situation.

    I think that with a continuing decline in sales and fewer and fewer books being published each year, the consequence may be a significant increase in good, if not very good, literary and commercial-genre, self-published ebooks that end up becoming bestsellers.

    What I would love to see happen is that Apple or somebody invents an inexpensive device--under $50--onto which you can download regular books and audiobooks. No more books scattered everywhere, and no more overdue fines from my library since those books would simply become unavailable to read or listen to beyond the return date.
     
  3. Little Miss Edi
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    Little Miss Edi Contributing Member

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    Personally I believe that the internal set up of publishing houses won't change a great deal, ebooks will become more readily available (and hopefully come down in price - why pay £7 for a virtual version of a book, I'd rather just get the book, especially when it's so cheap online!!) and hopefully readers will come down in price but they won't replace the book.

    I think the change will be in POD meaning that people can get copies of books that are out of print more easily. It will alleviate pulping and hopefully be a reasonable price. Things like Blackwell's Espresso machine look promising but I hope that it won't replace the pick up and browse nature of book shops.

    All in all, I think diversity should keep the industry supple and it'll be interesting to see how the internet will change the way writers can reach their audiences. They say the ereader is an 'ipod moment' but I disagree, I think the internet may well present an 'itunes moment' instead. :) Just look at the experiment done by Stephen King with his 'pay as much as you choose' digital novel.

    Exciting times people! :p
     
  4. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    I think there are too many people trying to predict doom where it does not exist.

    Books in paper form are not going anyplace dispite the hyperbola that opnioniated essay might have made one believe.

    Because in the end, all that is being made is 'just a book'.

    A Book, especally a cheep one (Under $7) I can bring it to the park, beach, or leave it in the car, it has no place that it can not go. If I forget it on the bus my world does not crash down into a million pieces, nor did I loose any real money value, after I was done reading it I would have tossed it on a shelf, trash, or given to someone I know anyway, so no great loss if I loose it someplace along my daily routine.

    With a book I don't need batteries, a billion and one plug ins, or accessories out the Wa-Zoo to make it work right or be able to read the book I want.

    I can flip around at any pace I like, dog ear ends to mark spots I enjoyed and break out the sharpie I am writing down your phone number on a chapter I have finished reading and don't care about, need to give me directions use that really slow part in the middle and start drawing me a map, and now after I just finished this chapter and a cup of joe, I am going to use the cover to pick that piece of crud off my teeth and get back to work.

    That is what has kept the Book alive for as long as it has, It is a simple and easy enjoyment in life.
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It would seem that the huge advances will be less common, owing to several factors discussed in the article. But I'm not thinking that I'll ever have a major platform, nor will my agent be auctioning off my works to the highest bidder, so the high six or even a seven figure advance is not gonna happen.

    POD, I think will keep works in print longer, and as the techology continues to improve, and may alter how offset printing is used--and the waste often involved. The returns from bookstores and the costs being eaten by the publishers from that and remaindering/destruction of books, I think will be affected by POD and online markets, in the long run. Brick and Mortar stores could compete with online markets (and their deep discounts) if they could get books cheaper from the publisher...which the 'returns policies' somewhat inhibit.

    As far as what I will do? I guess it really depends on if a publisher picks up my novels for publication. Then, it is something that I will worry about, and take advantage of what is going on in publishing.

    I think that it has been proven that selling ebooks for very very small sums--or giving them away--has proven itself in more than a few isolated incidents to increase sales of hardcover and paperback...and help some of the author's backlist sales. I think that would be an area that I would look at...should the day eventually come when I have published novels on the market.

    Terry
     
  6. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    I work in a theatre and carried out a fairly rapid survey of my workmates to ascertain what percentage would consider investing in hardcopy or cyber versions of novels. I'm a bit surprised at the result, considering how 'with it' they're supposed to be, all having laptops or PCs and spending varying periods of regular time on them. I'd say 80% said they'd rather go out and buy a 'book', or order one from Amazon, instead of the cyber alternative. Why? The tactile aspect; having it to hand - being able to 'flip' through it, and most especially, being able to hold onto it as a part of their personal library. I don't know, maybe I'm working with a pack of dinasours, but if I am, I reckon I'll have to consider myself one of them. I think, even as the world of books changes and evolves, writing will also evolve to keep up with it. I mean, in reality, how many writers really believe they're going to make a living out of it? I wouldn't encourage you to hold your breath if that's the case. Write and enjoy, but don't rely on the market to do you any favours.
     
  7. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    I think the end of authors making huge advances or bidding wars for "title" names coming to an end can only be a good thing for writing and book publishing as a whole.
     
  8. flashgordon
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    flashgordon Contributing Member

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    Actually, every year there are more books published. 492,000 different books were published last year (give or take a couple thousand). Likewise, there are more publishing companies now then every before. Of course, we only hear about the big ones (the six that own and dominate about 85% of the market), and their numbers are down. Why? A number of reasons, but simply because their model does not fit in the current situation/economy. Many are going to POD (like Random House) for everyone but their big authors, many (such as Picador) are not printing hardbacks at all, and others are trying to get away from remainders and returns.

    All in all, the publishing industry is changing faster then anyone can keep track of. Where will it go? Who knows, but the key is that there is still a continuing demand for writers - so we still win.
     
  9. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    In my opinion, physical books will be around for a long time to come. What WILL change is the printing and distribution channels for those books. The time of extreme waste in the present system is over. POD with minimal initial circulation will become the method of operation for traditional publishers. Instead of printing 2000 copies for distribution to all the book stores across the country, they will print 100 or 200 for distribution only in key markets. IF those 200 sell within a prescribed time period, then they will print 2000 and expand the distribution. I also think the internet is about to explode in book sales. Why? Because Amazon charges 55% discount of the books they sell. That amount of money for an electronic distribution system is outrageous. It is only a matter of time before the traditional publishers learn to "sell online" directly to consumers instead of going through such expensive distribution. When they do this, coupled with POD production so that there is no overstock in storage, then the cost of books will drop while the profitability for each book will grow.
     
  10. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    I kinda of doubt this sadly.

    Yes, currently there is waste, but that comes from the desires of publishers to "Bet it all on one horse" for the most part, their idea behind the "Block Buster Novel" which is a key element in their lively hood.

    Large Scale production is a must as it makes the books available to the people that want them. Would you wait months for your book to get printed?

    Most often then not, No

    There is also the whole "Brows the Books Shelfs" that people do enjoy, every day that I go into a Book store there are always people browsing the shelves and looking at the books. If production was cut down, markets would get cut, which means the idea of selling those 50,000 copies becomes extinct, which even if I have to burn/grind 10,000 copies to do it, I am still making more profit then if I did not sell the books because they were not available to be sold.

    I could not use POD as a publisher if I had a plan to put one copy in every book store, much less make available multi copies.

    It might work for self publishing where you have what? 3 books written? and have sold what? 100 books this year?

    Sure, it works wonders then.

    If I have 500 authors that are worth looking at beating at my door, 20,000 others that have big dreams of being the next novelist millionaire dropping their works in my mail slot, 2,000 agents pitching me the "Next Greatest thing", I have over 700 series titles to my name, as well as thousands of single titles not to mention I have supply contracts with Barns and Nobel, Borders, and a slew of smaller book stores, as well as public schools, libraries, colleges, Airports, corporate businesses, and every food store, convince store, and Wal*Mart on the planet because they have a book rack. Not to mention SOMEONE has to feed Amazon's appetite for undercutting everyone else, Guess who's job that is?

    Lets face it, on that scale, POD is a laughing joke, so is eBook. However I would be hesitant to invest in eBook because now I would have to pump put the same volume of books just in CD or other medium so that all my contacts got their copy.

    That would SO not happen in my plan, that would just be nothing BUT loss.

    If I am not putting out the volume to at least get a single copy (1 Book) to everyone on my contract list, I fail.

    I loose them. And as a publisher I would rather EAT that book then risk failing my contacts. SO yah. I eat the books because of that. Does it sound bad? In a way.. yes it does.

    But that has been the nature if the business since it started. Publishers have never NOT eaten books because that is the nature of the game.

    Not to mention, many companies recycle books, so even the ones that get ground up still 'sell' just for a lot less then expected :)
     
  11. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    I would like to add that NaCl's plan looks good on paper, It has the feel of "This would be a great idea" to it. And I confess it initially looks like a good idea.

    But It is only my personal feeling that this idea has many and far reaching and negative implications.
     

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