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Old 05-29-2011, 11:36 PM   #1
Leyor
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Are Publishers, to Blame For The Decline Of Books?

Haven't seen this article posted here, but found that it raised some interesting points:

Due to the Forbes terms of conditions, I'll only headlight the key points, rest you have to read in the link below:

Quote:
...The publishing world gathers next week in Manhattan at BookExpo America, its annual trade show, but the one subject attendees won’t be discussing is the coming collapse of publishing and the inevitable disappearance of books.

It’s not just that books are going to Kindles and iPads. It’s that books are going away, and the publishers have no one but themselves to blame...

...The traditional New York publishing business model — publish a ton of books, fail to market most of them, and hope that somebody buys something — worked well when publishers had a hammerlock on the distribution and marketing of books. Publishers essentially faced no competition and enjoyed complete control of what books people could publish and sell.

In today’s world, however, anyone ...can put up a book online with Smashwords, Lulu, or Kindle Direct, and bypass publishers — and bookstores — all together...

...But the real reason why books are going to vanish is the remarkably un-business-like business model of the publishers..

..In no other industry do producers actually wait passively to see what products are suggested to them, instead of doing market research to see what people really want to buy. Yet publishers seldom generate book ideas; instead they wait for literary agents to submit proposals. Houses decide which book to publish based on little more than a gut feeling that says, “I think we can make money selling this!”...

..Especially in the Internet era, you can’t make money putting books on trucks and hoping someone buys them...
http://blogs.forbes.com/booked/2011/...gered-species/

Last edited by Leyor; 05-30-2011 at 08:12 PM.
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Old 05-30-2011, 01:02 AM   #2
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I think it comes down to not keeping up with the times. As stated there are more options now and publishers need to accept and work with the new world of publishing if they are going to survive.
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Old 05-30-2011, 02:32 AM   #3
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Publishing was in decline long before ebooks came around, or even the internet. As if that analysis weren't dumb enough, the author goes on to say "Amazon killed browsing. You go on, you find the book you wanted, you pay, and you leave. So instead of buying five books, you buy just one."

Killed browsing? Has this guy ever used Amazon? That place hits my wallet more than going into any physical bookstore. I discover more titles there than I ever have on shelves. He even claims that publishers aren't putting out books people want to read. Huh? Trash has always been around, as have tons of good works. What, pray tell, sort of books does the author feel need to be published that aren't? He doesn't say, and doesn't know, because he pulled that claim out of his !@#.

Publishers may indeed be screwing up in many ways..but his points were fairly asinine from start to finish.

It was an amusing read, though.

Last edited by OtterBooks; 05-30-2011 at 02:36 AM.
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Old 05-30-2011, 05:58 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OtterBooks View Post
Publishing was in decline long before ebooks came around, or even the internet. As if that analysis weren't dumb enough, the author goes on to say "Amazon killed browsing. You go on, you find the book you wanted, you pay, and you leave. So instead of buying five books, you buy just one."

Killed browsing? Has this guy ever used Amazon?


I buy far more books now than I ever did before I got my ereader. A quick look through my book shelves shows me that I regularly purchase 2 or 3 books at a time. I can't remember doing that very often with paper books.
Also I visit Amazon or Kobobooks at least 3 or 4 times every week. I used to go to a bookstore once a week at most.
For me it's much easier to buy books now - I can do it in my pyjamas at midnight if I want to.
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Old 05-30-2011, 06:08 AM   #5
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The primary point the article raised is that the author's books don't sell, and he suspects these internets he's been hearing about may have something to do with it.
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Old 05-30-2011, 07:43 AM   #6
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I don't agree with everything in the article, (especially not the Amazon bit, as Amazon is a case study in how to push additional sales on customers through the recommended features), however I think the overall message is an interesting one.

The online business model for ebook sales is radically different than the old physical one. Publishers needs to adapt to the changing marketplace or it's to the detriment of consumers and authors aswell.
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Old 05-30-2011, 08:25 AM   #7
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At east he wasn't blaming everything on piracy...
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Old 05-30-2011, 09:10 AM   #8
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Actually, he was partailly blaming piracy.

Quote:
In today’s world, however, anyone from John Grisham to John Doe can put up a book online with Smashwords, Lulu, or Kindle Direct, and bypass publishers — and bookstores — all together. Authors can use Google AdWords or social networking strategies to market their books far more effectively than publishers ever could. So who needs New York?
Yes, Kindle and iPad are game-changers. When you read books on a device, a few things change. You’re moving into an environment where you typically don’t pay for content — almost everything online is free. So publishers won’t be able to charge $10 or $12 for an entire book when people only want a chapter’s worth of information. So much for ebooks as a revenue stream for the publishing houses.
I find this statement more then a bit silly. The implication is that people are pirating books, or at least book chapters.

I have spent more on books since I was given a Kindle then I did before. I would go to the bookstore once a month and buy 4-5 books. I am buying far more then that now and I have bought a decent amount of my paper collection on my Kindle.

I agree that the Publishers are using a bad business plan. I don't think that they choose the greatest books to publish but that is not limited to books on 9/11 or President Obama. I don't think they have done the best job of changing with the times. They should be looking at the romance novels and how they are changing and adapting to e-books. I think that well known authors will be happy to leave the publishing houses as soon as they can and receive the larger royalties.
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Old 05-30-2011, 09:25 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OtterBooks View Post

Killed browsing? Has this guy ever used Amazon? That place hits my wallet more than going into any physical bookstore. I discover more titles there than I ever have on shelves. He even claims that publishers aren't putting out books people want to read. Huh? Trash has always been around, as have tons of good works. What, pray tell, sort of books does the author feel need to be published that aren't? He doesn't say, and doesn't know, because he pulled that claim out of his !@#.
This x1000. I died laughing when I read your post, because I was thinking that exact thing. I am pretty much ADDICTED to browsing on Amazon. It's like my hobby.

AND I agree that there have always been crap books, crap ideas, crap everything. That isn't new. People have always had bad ideas and people have always had good ideas.

I really love whenever anyone tries to blame the 'downfall' of something on any one thing. Firstly, reading is on an uptick, not a decline. So I'd like to know where he got his information. Secondly, just like everything in the history of the world, everything rises and falls and a lot of times rise again, and there isn't ever one thing, or sometimes anything at all, to blame.
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Old 05-30-2011, 09:46 AM   #10
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The fundamental idea that the book publishing business is broken and we are going to see radical change in the business model isn't exactly new or all that startling. IMPO, Amazon and eBooks is a god send for the mid list authors, who never quite made it to the NYT's best sales list, but have enough name recognition, fans and backlist to make a good living if they are willing to put the effort into marketing themselves on the internet.

An author, or group of authors who band together and develop a vibrant online community can really do well. The problem is that online communities take a lot more work than most authors are willing to do. When the Baen community was at it's peak, it was probably the model of how to do things. Well monitored, with plenty of authors posting on a regular basis to keep interest up, plus Baen pioneered the use of snippets to generate interest in upcoming books. Most of the author sites that I've been to recently are basically fan sites where the author only shows up occasionally.
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Old 05-30-2011, 10:18 AM   #11
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Since this is not a well-known author (I gather), he should be embracing the Amazon's, Smashwords, etc. of the world and not trying to bash them. How many unknown or Indie authors ever made it to shelves in bookstores, or even had their book published before this "internet thing" came along? If they were in the store at all, their books were way in the back in a corner, or on the top shelf where you really couldn't get to them anyway. At least with ebooks they have a chance. But, as someone pointed out above, it takes work. So instead of blaming others for their books not getting out there, get with the program and do a little self-promoting.
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Old 05-30-2011, 10:41 AM   #12
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Im with you guys, I spend more now on amazon than I ever did in a bookstore. With forums and review sites im more likely to buy multiple books.
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Old 05-30-2011, 11:26 AM   #13
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As to why publishing is in decline, I can only surmise. Primarily I think it has more to do with the changing landscape of entertainment. We're awash in a sea of instant, passive entertainment available 24/7.

The issue of people reading less in general is a cultural issue way bigger than anything the publishing industry has done. The effects of book pricing, ebooks and IP management are small potatoes compared to the forces at work beyond their boardrooms. imo.
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Old 05-30-2011, 11:49 AM   #14
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The old publishing business may be dying but there's more reading and writing going on than ever.
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Old 05-30-2011, 12:38 PM   #15
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One more thing about Amazon - for physical purchases, the minimum total to qualify for free shipping always gets me to add an extra movie or book. They really are the how-to guide for selling online. I am far more likely to find a book I want, or discovered I want, on Amazon than in my local bookstore, where I can't see the virtual links between shelves and sections (liked this? 90% also liked that).

I don't believe book publishing is dying, but it is changing significantly. I hope the author's idea of market-drive, focus-group-suggested topics dies on the vine - that killed pop music for me, I don't want it to infect book publishing.
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