Sunday, September 14, 2014

Publishers are on the wrong side of history.

And because bookstores are locked into the traditional publishing paradigm, they are also missing the inexorable trend toward authors taking control of their own writing.

It is only a matter of time before enough significant authors self-publish that bookstores have to take notice.

Up to now, bookstores can simply ignore indies.  Admittedly, it's a huge hassle to carry individual authors and their books, if they aren't available from wholesalers.

Either enough mid-list authors will become indies to have an effect, or some major authors will figure out that they can make 70% of the value of a book, instead of a much smaller percentage.  Or, most likely, so many great new authors will arise from the indie ranks and the buzz will be so strong that bookstores will have to accommodate it or risk becoming irrelevant.

That's the trend, and I think it's irreversible.  Bookstores can ignore it for a long time, but if enough ebooks sell without bookstores because they can only be sold as ebooks, then the bookstore will be missing a significant portion of the money being spend.

Publishers have tightened and narrowed and blockbustered the entry into traditional books that it seems inevitable to me that too many good authors will slip between the cracks, be found as ebooks, make enough money that they can ignore the traditional route of agent/publisher/distributor/bookstore.

Good authors, best selling authors, will choose to fore go the traditional route, realizing that by self-publishing, they are in complete control, making 70%, own their own rights, choose their own covers and formats, and so on.

There may be two markets for awhile, but I wonder how long the traditional publishers can delegate "self-published" books into the old "vanity press" paradigm when it is no longer valid.

I gave a local bookstore 5 copies of my book, and they put it in the least noticeable, most inaccessible place in the store.  This despite my book having gotten quite a bit of local publicity.  I've sold hundreds of copies in my store, and at least a few dozen of them sold based on simply being displayed.

They put my book in Siberia because to them it was self-published.  (It wasn't, but that isn't the point.)

But that's their problem, eventually.  Unless they wake up, they're going to miss the boat.

The one problem with indies is that there is no central clearing house (except Amazon, of course.)

What's needed is for someone to take the indie books under one roof and distribute them to bookstores, so the bookstores don't have to buy from individual authors.  Either an existing distributor needs to create this capacity, and make it easy to use, or a new distributor needs to arise that doesn't have the bias against indie books.

This probably won't happen until there is a tipping point of so many indie books being sold out of the non-traditional methods that bookstores will wake up to the fact that they are missing a significant proportion of the good books being read.

May take years, may crumble overnight.

But it seems to me that it is inevitable.

1 comment:

P. J. Grath said...

Duncan, I got carried away with what started out as a comment and finally posted it to my own blog: