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Old 12-27-2010, 06:13 PM   #1
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Book publishers see their role as gatekeepers shrink

Article from the LA Times, 26 Dec. '10 :
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-f...,7119214.story
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Old 12-27-2010, 07:27 PM   #2
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When I finish my first book, I plan to "self-publish" at several of the main ebook sites.
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Old 12-27-2010, 07:44 PM   #3
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It says more about what passes for the state of journalism these days that 4 different "news" sites all carry the same press release.
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Old 12-27-2010, 07:58 PM   #4
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Given the crap I've read from Smashwords, I'd give my kingdom for a gatekeeper.
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Old 12-27-2010, 08:02 PM   #5
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Good. To me, Book publishers are like the big record companies, they peddle crap mostly through the use of marketing (and Oprah).

I would rather read a random book from Smashwords than anything by Dan Brown, or James Patterson's ghost writers, or the vast majority of what makes the bestseller list.

Beyond that, I can think of more than a few now famous fantasy authors that started out simply be retelling Tolkien or writing about their D&D campaign. Which again, seems to be no different than much of the indie fantasy.

And don't get me started on the "clever" idea of re-writing classics by adding zombies or other supernatural elements in it. Once was slightly clever. Now that there are seemingly dozens (including a whole small publisher whose whole catalog seems to be it), ugh.

Last edited by JeremyR; 12-27-2010 at 08:04 PM.
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Old 12-27-2010, 08:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeremyR View Post
Good. To me, Book publishers are like the big record companies, they peddle crap mostly through the use of marketing (and Oprah).

I would rather read a random book from Smashwords than anything by Dan Brown, or James Patterson's ghost writers, or the vast majority of what makes the bestseller list.

Beyond that, I can think of more than a few now famous fantasy authors that started out simply be retelling Tolkien or writing about their D&D campaign. Which again, seems to be no different than much of the indie fantasy.

And don't get me started on the "clever" idea of re-writing classics by adding zombies or other supernatural elements in it. Once was slightly clever. Now that there are seemingly dozens (including a whole small publisher whose whole catalog seems to be it), ugh.
Amen.
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Old 12-27-2010, 08:19 PM   #7
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Good. To me, Book publishers are like the big record companies, they peddle crap mostly through the use of marketing (and Oprah).

I would rather read a random book from Smashwords than anything by Dan Brown, or James Patterson's ghost writers, or the vast majority of what makes the bestseller list.
This does not say so much. The interesting question is if you would rather read a random book from Smashwords than a random book from a well known publisher?

How many random books from Smashword have you read?
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Old 12-27-2010, 08:44 PM   #8
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Interesting to learn that authors receive 10-25% of digital sales. That's more than I expected.
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Old 12-27-2010, 09:00 PM   #9
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...I would rather read a random book from Smashwords than anything by Dan Brown, or James Patterson's ghost writers, or the vast majority of what makes the bestseller list....
I wouldn't read a random book from any publisher--including Smashwords. The Best Seller list books represent the current taste of people buying books and whilst I don't care for Dan Brown, many of my favourite books this past year were published by divisions/ imprints of the big publishing houses. For example, Sandman Slim, by Richard Kadrey was published by EOS, the sci fi imprint of Harper Collins. Should I have passed it up (and missed a mighty fine read) because it was not published by Baen or Smashwords?
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Old 12-27-2010, 09:02 PM   #10
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Given the crap I've read from Smashwords, I'd give my kingdom for a gatekeeper.
There already is a gatekeeper for eBooks. It's called "free sample", and I would buy just from those sites which offer them.

It usually takes just a few pages to evaluate the content, style and quality of a novel. So the best gatekeeper still is your own taste.
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Old 12-27-2010, 09:11 PM   #11
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There already is a gatekeeper for eBooks. It's called "free sample", and I would buy just from those sites which offer them.

It usually takes just a few pages to evaluate the content, style and quality of a novel. So the best gatekeeper still is your own taste.
This will only filter away the obvious crap. Thing like bad ending and or bad pacing or incoherrent story and similar things will not be detected.
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Old 12-27-2010, 09:13 PM   #12
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This will only filter away the obvious crap. Thing like bad ending and or bad pacing or incoherrent story and similar things will not be detected.
Welcome to the world of editorial quality of many mainstream publishers out there today.
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Old 12-27-2010, 09:17 PM   #13
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Welcome to the world of editorial quality of many mainstream publishers out there today.
Yes, this is one reason I do not read mainstream books at all.
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Old 12-28-2010, 01:16 AM   #14
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I'm all for diminished power for publishers, but they still need to exist. They just need to act less like almighty bankers and more like humble assistants/partners. If their gate-keeping role can be reduced, it'll make the market fairer.
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Old 12-28-2010, 02:14 AM   #15
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Is it less gatekeeping we need, or more?

Big publishers, it seems, have abandoned much of their former role of filtering and development and are now just looking to pump out more of whatever was hot last year. That might be profitable in the short term, but in the long term, many customers will buy from indies, direct from authors, from people with good previews, etc. When the only difference between a book by Big Name Publisher, Inc., and Small Lil' House is the logo on the cover -- and when it's equally easy to buy either one, since the buyer is no longer dependent on what their local bookstore has room to stock -- people will, I think, depend more on recommendations and reviews. This is a good thing for the indies, of course, since their primary marketing is word of mouth. If all that the big publishers have is a logo, they've screwed themselves.

What they need to do to survive is to compete on quality. We as buyers need to know that when we buy something from Big Name Publisher, Inc., it will be thoroughly edited, correctly formatted, and in other ways worth more than something Joe Average uploaded to Smashwords. They have the resources to make "almost" into "absolutely", and that's where they need to spend them. That's what a big publisher can do that a freelancer can't afford to, and that's where their money is.

Instead, it seems like they want to adopt bottom-of-the-market styles (no editorial development, no proofreading, not even decent formatting) while charging top-of-the-market prices. That's not going to get them very far (consider the Cadillac Cimmaron). They have everything they need to seize a part of the market out of reach of most others and make a lot of money from it. They just need to look beyond next quarter and do the seizing.
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