Originally Posted by Rizla
And yet most of the money does not go to the laborer but to the middlemen.
In the US, the two big book middlemen are Ingram Book Company
and Baker & Taylor
If the publishers were just middlemen, I don't think there would be such a focus on them.
There are some books where the publisher didn't contribute much beyond marketing. In a case where the book started out indie, and was taken up by a publisher (50 Shades franchise), we have proof of it. But almost all the time, when I read a book, I have no idea whether the publisher just took what was submitted, or did a total rewrite.
You could say that in the case of a rewrite, most of the money didn't go to the laborer either, it's just a different laborer who was ripped off (editor instead of author). However, it's not like everyone is sitting around publishing houses gossiping while the authors and editors do all the work. The work of the HR people and supervisors who hire the kind of editors that make books better rather than worse is also critical. And no one would be there without the finance people. Or the janitors.
There are companies where most of the revenue goes to executive salaries and profit. The big six are not among them. They don't spend much on lobbying the government, either.
Most of the revenue goes, directly or indirectly, to creating product and getting it to readers.