1. Tanelorn
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    Tanelorn New Member

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    Future of Publishing

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Tanelorn, Jan 17, 2013.

    Reading through the forums I see a lot of threads on self publishing, vs. e-publishing, vs. traditional publishing. This got me to wondering about the future of the writing world. With the proliferation of e-readers over the last few years e-publishing is becoming a viable market in and of itself, a little research in the matter and I discovered that anyone can e-publish on a number of sites without any upfront costs, or need to qualify your work. And was curious about how people think this will change the industry over the next ten to twenty years. How do you think the traditional publishers, readers, and writers will react to the new electronic marketplace.
     
  2. cicerotamar
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    cicerotamar Member

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    I see a lot more crap will be available via ebooks.

    Big publishers will be the big winners since overhead is cut, and returns are almost nill.

    There will be some self published authors who will bennefit, but a small percentage. Maybe 1 or 2 percent of the self publishers out there.

    The "Industry" will not change. eBooks do not scare big presses. They love it. They don't care if a lot of people self publish.

    If you're waiting for something that really will change the industry, wait and see if any major authors with big followings decide to put books out on their own. See if Stephen King, or Peterson, or Gaiman, or any of the really huge names put out something on their own. If they do that, there might be trouble for major presses, but so far none of those authors are heading that route.

    Most books are sold in physical stores. Not just most, but must by a huge margin. I think something like 75%. And that's in the USA. In the rest of the developed world the numbers are much bigger, like 90% sold in stores.

    I think any major changes to the industry will not happen in the next decade.

    I think a lot of self publishing proponents want people to believe the future has arrived, that those pesky dinosaurs are on their way down, but those pesky dinosaurs are publicly traded and so you can look up their earnings, and their NET earnings (NET, not GROSS) Net earnings, are still in the B-B-B-Billions and hundreds of millions. Those major presses are doing just fine.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Self-publishing is not the same thing as e-publishing. Traditional publishers may choose to release electronic versions of a book, thus making it both traditionally published and e-published.

    To answer your question, I think e-publishing is going to become more popular, but I don't think printing actual books is going anywhere in the near future (at least I hope not). I also think self-publishing is going to become more popular, which is going to make it harder to separate the good from the bad.

    On a related note, I wonder if (or when) prestigious literary awards will ever be won for books that have only been e-published. I'm trying to imagine the Pulitzer and Nobel committees with e-readers, but I just can't.
     
  4. Ian J.
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    Ian J. Active Member

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    IMHO, mass market sized paperbacks will die a death (slow or otherwise) as e-readers and tablet computers become more widely owned. The reasoning for that happening is what has already been happening to the CD and DVD. But there will always be a place, though it may eventually be a 'niche' size, for normally printed books of non-mass market size and particularly books of the coffee table variety. The reasoning for that is the same as the continued existence of the vinyl LP.

    As for self-publishing (be it via e-publishing or print), the problem there is one of quality (as has been mentioned myriad times before in other threads here). As long as easy to publish systems like Amazon's Kindle Direct exist, most self-published e-books will be lacking in quality due to not being reviewed and checked and reviewed and checked again before being published. In fact, to be a successful self-published author, almost the only thing one has to do is write good quality language with a coherent plot and story, regardless of subject, and you'll probably end up in the top 1 to 2 percent, that's how bad most of the self-published e-books are. However, even in that top 2 percent, there's still not much likelihood of 'success' as you still then need to get your book noticed somehow, and there's the rub, as most self-published authors can't afford the marketing budget.
     
  5. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, let's keep e-publishing straight from self-publishing and trade publishing. E-publishing is a format, nothing more. And until we reach that paperless society that's been predicted (for how long now?), I don't see print books going out of fashion.
     
  6. swhibs123
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    swhibs123 Active Member

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    It's an interesting discussion, but I am of the opinion that eventually eBooks will occupy about 50% market share for books. Print will not die, since there is more to a book than just the story. See, with music and movies, nothing changes when you make it digital. You no longer have to take a DVD out of a case and put it in your DVD player, but the movie is the same so it's something embraced by all. But reading a book on an iPad and reading a physical book is not the same. Also, books are conversation pieces, they're artwork, they're furniture. You can dogear a book, write in the margins . . . there is something beyond just the romanticized ideal of a book that can't be replicated digitally. So in my opinion, they're not going anywhere.

    It's not that traditionally published authors are afraid of books disappearing, they'd get more money, have less hold-back if things went 100% digital. But that's just not something I see happening. . . well, ever actually. Certainly not in my lifetime.

    I think it's a great time to be a writer! Both in terms of those who want to go the traditional route (Agent-pubilsher-bookstore) and those who want to go it alone.
     
  7. Ian J.
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    Ian J. Active Member

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    If any class of books disappears eventually, it will be because the younger generations choose to avoid them. Effective e-readers have only been around for a few years, so most people worldwide know reading from paper. But in years to come the new generations will know reading almost exclusively from electronic devices of one form or another. Once that is happening with its inherent 'convenience' (especially not having to lug loads of books around every time you move, go on holiday, etc) then the economies of scale will fail for the mass-market formats and they just won't be cost effective to publish in.
     
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  8. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Costs for print books is about 10% higher than for ebooks, at least for trade publishers. So I don't see cost as being a factor in the so-called demise of print books at all.

    As I mentioned - still waiting for the paperless society personal computers promised.
     
  9. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    Since receiving the gift of a e-reader for Christmas I have taken advance of the many of the ebooks out there, some of them free while others only a few pence. But sadly have been very disappointed by the standard of self-published books, many of them riddled with spelling mistakes, bad grammar, rushed storylines or worse, stories that simply drifting off or stop suddenly. Don't get me wrong I think self publishing is a great idea - it helps out the new blood, and should be encouraged. But why can't the inspiring writings out there take the time to proof read their work. Are they that much of a rush to get it out that they are blind to the Spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes? Or perhaps they do see them but don't care. As long as its 'out there' that's all that matters to them - they give little or no thought to their readers.

    As an inspiring writer myself I do want to encourage the little man in the harsh world of publishing but worry that the poor quality work is damaging the crediablility of self publishing, and that it has become a joke, where the poorly educated or overly excited writer sets themselves up for ridicule in such a public domain.
     
  10. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am dubious that it will ever truly change traditional publishing market, simply because the self-publishing e-books for free will entice every single bad writer on this planet who only cares about seeing his name on a book and suffers with a serious intolerance for delayed gratification, to churn out unedited, unfinished, unpolished stories and self-publish for free with a click of a button.. The number of kids who think that they can write great books, 4 a year, ten thousand words in one night, and yet don't even know their own grammar and spelling, is truly staggering. The difference that free e-publishing brings to the table is the readers at large can now have the dubious pleasure of reading their efforts in the sea of similar stuff, on any one of the self-publishing sites. Good stuff in all self-publishing s few and far between and easily lost in the crowd. I am not saying it shouldn't be done though.

    What I am trying to say, there's no quality control. And the same reason why I buy Nikon lenses for my camera, rather than any of the generic or very cheap equivalents is that Nikon tests every single lens and only those with impeccable optics make it through, the rest are recycled. I think traditional publishing, even if in itself it becomes e-publishing, will never lose my custom because maybe they aren't as OCD as Nikon with their quality control, but they are much closer to it than self-publishing will ever be. Unless they find a way around it.

    Perhaps with non- fiction it's not so bad because those tend to be people interested in research but again, good proof reading is essential. But I am a reader of mainly fiction these days so still, I'd sooner buy a non-fiction book published in a traditional way.
     
  11. Bright Shadow
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    Bright Shadow Member

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    The difference is that no one bemoaned the loss of CDs. CDs had just replaced cassettes anyway and it was a logical step to mp3s. I have met many, MANY people who absolutely refuse to read ebooks. I gave it a try and got a kindle but it just isn't the same as holding a book and turning the pages.

    Also, DVDs are going absolutely nowhere. Redbox continues to make a massive profit.
     
  12. Bright Shadow
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    Bright Shadow Member

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    I see it this way: publishing houses will go from necessary to get works published to become necessary for quality control. Any idiot can self publish a book, but it is very, VERY hard to please an agent, an editor and a board of editors with one's work. Hence, there will be a dung pile of crap self published books that will generally be ignored as the public slowly, in their collective consciousness understands, anyone can self publish online.

    When I hear writers say "why bother with a big evil corporation publishing your book when you can self publish?" I'm tempted to respond "that sounds like someone 'not bothering with' evil women and instead watching porn alone."
     
  13. Ian J.
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    Ian J. Active Member

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    Another two reasons why the mass-market paperback will almost definitely eventually die a death (slow or otherwise):

    1. It's an expensive proposition to print and deliver physical books - the basic novel can be far more cheaply 'delivered' in e-book format, something the publishers will eventually want to take advantage of even if they're a bit unsure now.

    2. The younger generation are used to their mobile gadgets. As they grow up they will bring that familiarity with them and in general will want to get their media delivered electronically as it'll be more convenient for them.

    There will always be exceptions to the rule and some people of any age will still want some form of physical novel to read, but their appetite will be met by the larger trade formats, not the mass-market format.
     
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  14. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not really. The difference in cost to a trade publisher is about 10%. The major costs in producing a book is in the acquisition, editing, cover art, and marketing. Those remain the same regardless of format. And trade publishers aren't "unsure" about ebooks - they're all doing them.
     
  15. Bright Shadow
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    Bright Shadow Member

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    All major publishing houses use ebooks. Thing is, people still want paperbacks. If there is a demand for paperbacks (and there always will be) there is always going to be a supply for paperbacks.

     
  16. Teodor Pravický
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    Teodor Pravický Senior Member

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    I'm thinking about offering like every second book to Czech publishers, I will look like some retard then, right?

    The point is I have like 500MB traffic every day on downloads and the PDF has 5,5MB, while they really download 2,8MB in average, which means something like most of the people still download whole book. I don't expect my publisher to do all marketing job for me. Once somebody likes it, they remember your name and go back in the future.

    So the real question could be if the publisher will take it as advantage or will reject my works just because he "feels" people like me are ruining his business.
     
  17. BitPoet
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    BitPoet Member

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    Could you tell us where you got the 10% from? I'm asking because I've done consulting work for a number of publishers, where I got glimpses at sales figures and cost, and from what I saw there I'd say that nearly 50% of the cost, if not more, were print and distribution. That's been some years back, so work optimization and switching to digital printing has probably improved figures for traditional books, but the 10% sound a bit extreme to me.
     
  18. mikeinseattle
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    mikeinseattle Member

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    To everyone here, what a beautiful thread! So optimistic with well thought-out comments! Thanks to you all! :superagree:
     
  19. farenheit451
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    farenheit451 New Member

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    Judging by the awesome books I'm finding at the thrifts for something less than a song, I think printed books are going to become a novelty. Like vinyl records, in the future, a niche market will be out there, but I think for mass media publications, all goes to e-publishing.

    I love an LP, the cover art you can hold, the liner notes you can actually read, and that mellow vinyl sound, but I have more music stored in that thumb-drive than I have in that 80 pound box of vinyl!

    I read an article the other day on new knapsack designs by Jansport. Apparently the market is saturated with knapsacks. To increase their market share, Jansport has done a knapsack study for redesign. They need to come up with something totally new in order to capture the market share to stay profitable. They studied several knapsack consumer groups. The study included homeless people in San Francisco and college students at various college campuses. One startling find, college students no longer carry books!
     
  20. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Eh...used books have been all but free ever since I've been buying my own books, and that's decades.
     
  21. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    My prediction (or at least my hope) is not that printing will "die", but that distribution and endorsement will be two completely separate businesses.

    Everyone's gripe with self-publishing is the lack of quality control. Quality control is actually an accidental byproduct of historical technological limitations. Distributing information used to incur massive overhead because the only way to distribute it was to print it and because printing presses were expensive. Because printing presses cost so much, few people owned them. Because so few people owned printing presses and so many people wanted to distribute their writing, authors had to compete for the privilege of having their work printed. That way, the investment of printing was only made in the writing that would sell the most copies and therefore earn the most money.

    Today, not only are printers an inexpensive consumer technology, and not only do indiscriminate print-on-demand services exist, but the most effective way to distribute information to the widest audience is the internet, which happens to have the lowest entry barrier. And yet the big publishing houses still exist. They have outlived their exclusivity in their original feature (distributing information) but not their exclusivity in their byproduct feature. Authors value them because readers value them; readers value them because they are an exclusive endorsement of quality; they are exclusive because there are so few of them; there are so few of them because that is how it has always been. In other words, they are exclusive because they are exclusive.

    That is an unstable status quo. For a business that receives many submissions, endorses a tiny subset of those submissions, and profits from sales of endorsed submissions, it is not necessary for the same business to be responsible for making copies of those submissions physically available to readers. I think a leaner business model will thrive in the future, whether current businesses adapt to it or new businesses take their place.
     
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  22. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Publishing is still set for some major roller coaster rides ahead I'm afraid.

    Ebooks are here and account for maybe 40% of the fiction book sales market - there are loads of different figures bandied about but this is around the midle of them. This percentage will continue to rise slowly now that the initial rush to the new format has eased.

    The big five (who were six not that long ago if you recall) will continue, but will change their business models to survive. Advances to authors will continue to decline for most. But to make up for that they will probably be taking on more authors. It's going to become a more bulk market for them. The chances are that their new trend of scouring the ebook markets for new authors will start to become their normal approach - why waste money looking for untested authors when you can simply see who's out there already making a go of it as an indie. And the chances are that they'll be making a new class of author - the ebook only author. After all it comes with no printing costs, so all they have to do is cover, edit and slap a book out on an ebook platform and prepare to accept lower returns from a lot more authors. Do it right and their incomes will boom.

    As for paperbacks, there's a new technology which is going to smash the industry apart. The print a book on demand - yes it is POD - but based at your local book store. Go to your store having done some browsing online and give them the name of the book you want, and an hour later or less, pick it up. Suddenly book stores will become printeries, and their connection to the big five etc, will be tested. Because why would they want to be bound to just selling big five books? They can sell millions of different books. This is already out there, but only just beginning. However, like 3D printing the costs are comming down all the time.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  23. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    But is there enough demand for that? A person can read only so many novels. People may download a gazillion if they're free or a penny, and not care if they ever read them, but that doesn't provide evidence for real, will-pay demand.
     
  24. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Hell yeah! It's where the money is. Look at the top say twenty or thirty books in each Amazon category and then try and guess how many of them are indie. It's somethimes hard to tell, but usually the estimates are it's about half of them. That's money.

    Then consider the costs - which are essentially nothing for publishing after the upfront costs of cover design and edit etc, and the returns which is a percentage of sales from those books, for seventy plus years. They don't need to actually print books. They don't need to stock shops and worry about returns. Advances are minimal. They might have to do some promotion, but current trade deals usually get the authors to do a lot of that and in any case they have to do it for all their books anyway. And if half the market is ebook, they're home and hosed.

    Which would you rather have? A hundred authors each bringing in a hundred or a thousand bucks a month in sales, or two bringing in say five thousand apiece?

    The math just works out better.

    Cheers, Greg.
     

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