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View Poll Results: What is the biggest problem threatening the publishing industry?
People don't read 35 33.65%
Too many middlemen 12 11.54%
Content not available 8 7.69%
High prices 14 13.46%
Pirates 1 0.96%
DRM 15 14.42%
Geographical restrictions 4 3.85%
Other 15 14.42%
Voters: 104. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-07-2009, 04:07 PM   #1
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What is the greatest threat to the publishing industry?

I am curious, with all the talk about pirates or DRM free books or Creative Commons or whatever, what do people here (i.e. readers who care about reading) actually think is the biggest threat to the industry right now? My vote is that pirates, DRM etc all pale relative to the biggest threat of all, that more and more people simply don't read for fun...

So, of the items below, what do you think is the single biggest 'threat' to the publishing industry?

- Too many other entertainment choices; many people don't read at all
- Too many middlemen eating into profits and forcing higher prices
- Publishers/authors who are too scared to offer wanted content at all
- Hardware/software/books priced beyond what customers want to pay
- Pirates are stealing away customers and bringing ruination to us all
- Publishers put DRM on content people might buy if it did not have DRM
- Geographical restrictions exclude willing customers from buying books
- Other

Last edited by ficbot; 08-07-2009 at 04:10 PM.
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Old 08-07-2009, 04:13 PM   #2
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I'd say themselves, and a refusal to adapt their business models to new realities (same with the music and movie industry). They can chose to adapt and survive, or choose to remain stagnant and disappear. It was the music industries refusal to embrace digital media for a long time that was really hurting them the most. Hopefully the publishing industry won't make the same mistakes (although they're already heading down that path).
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Old 08-07-2009, 04:16 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ficbot View Post
- Pirates are stealing away customers and bringing ruination to us all
That whole thing is really a non-issue. It's only a minor factor, but it makes for a great boogeyman that they can use to try and demand tighter and tighter control via laws, which are then used to prop up the failing business models.
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Old 08-07-2009, 04:19 PM   #4
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Other: Themselves! Publishers are going to dinosaur themselves right out of business.
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Old 08-07-2009, 04:23 PM   #5
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I'm not convinced there are any threats to the publishing industry. Certainly not anything you have listed above. Publishing has an increasingly low barrier to entry, and the number of niche publishers is growing every day.

What makes you think that the publishing industry itself is under any threat?

Publishers are not like the Music Labels, doing work that anybody could do in a reasonably pimped out basement, but rather they are like Movie Companies (is that the term?) doing work that requires professionals... not necessarily tens of millions of dollars, but definitely professionals because work done by amateurs even in terms of something as seemingly simple like book formatting will look unmistakeably like amateur work.

I could tell you what I think the publishing industry's biggest flaw is though: that it puts out oceans worth of unremarkable garbage, having long abdicated any responsibility for selecting quality material from the unceasing hail of trash from untalented authors.

But people pay handsomely for plenty of terribly written books nowadays, so that's certainly not a threat or a problem or even a flaw if one is to be objective and detached in one's assessment.

- Ahi

Ps.: How exactly are publishers putting themselves out of business? The day an author starts to manage all the people that have to labour to turn their manuscript into something both worth reading and readable (even by people who do not purposefully patronize indie authors) is the day that author stops writing altogether.
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Old 08-07-2009, 04:32 PM   #6
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I voted "high prices," but that was only because I couldn't choose multiple things. I'd've added people don't read, too many middlemen, and content not available (in bits!) as well if this had been a multiple choice poll.

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Old 08-07-2009, 04:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaggy View Post
They can chose to adapt and survive, or choose to remain stagnant and disappear.
Individual companies can choose to do that. The industry itself cannot.

All the work--after the writing--that goes into a book, from editing, to typesetting, to cover design, to promotion (not to mention fact checking, and other things that are more relevant to certain genres but not others) is not going to get taken up by the author. And it is that work having gone into books--whether eBooks or pBooks--that will continue to separate professional writers from amateur ones.

Whoever handles this work will be de facto a publisher. Even if not a single such company will trace its beginnings back to before 2009.

That's why I do not see the industry itself having any threats to it.

I certainly would not be surprised if many companies ended up failing to go with the times... but... who cares about that... and why?

- Ahi
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Old 08-07-2009, 04:49 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahi View Post
That's why I do not see the industry itself having any threats to it.

I certainly would not be surprised if many companies ended up failing to go with the times... but... who cares about that... and why?
I interpreted "the industry" as being the current Publishers that make up that industry. Maybe that's not what was intended by the question.

I agree that in some form or another, Publishers (or at least editors) will continue to exist. I just don't know if that form (from a business model perspective) will be anything like the form it currently is.
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Old 08-07-2009, 04:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahi View Post
Individual companies can choose to do that. The industry itself cannot.

All the work--after the writing--that goes into a book, from editing, to typesetting, to cover design, to promotion (not to mention fact checking, and other things that are more relevant to certain genres but not others) is not going to get taken up by the author. And it is that work having gone into books--whether eBooks or pBooks--that will continue to separate professional writers from amateur ones.

Whoever handles this work will be de facto a publisher. Even if not a single such company will trace its beginnings back to before 2009.

That's why I do not see the industry itself having any threats to it.

I certainly would not be surprised if many companies ended up failing to go with the times... but... who cares about that... and why?

- Ahi

You're right, it won't be the author alone, it will be the community that does this. We're already seeing proofreading as a crowdsourced publishing venture through Bookoven.com (with more community driven options to come), I'm already providing covers for other "unpubbed" authors such as myself. As far as I can imagine, the writer can no longer just sit and write and rely on others to do all the leg work. The writer will have to be part of a community, an active part of that community, not just there to flog his or her wares but to fill in the gaps that others might need. Design, proofreading, editing, all the traditional avenues of publishing are slowly, but surely, passing over into the hands of on-line communities.
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Old 08-07-2009, 05:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahi View Post
Whoever handles this work will be de facto a publisher. Even if not a single such company will trace its beginnings back to before 2009.
One of the possible business models I can see developing as ebooks become more common is one where the author retains the rights to their work and self-publishes but hires a consulting company to help with things like editing and marketing. In this scenario I don't know if I would call those consultants de facto publishers. A nit picky argument to be sure and it has no bearing of the validity of your statement but it just got me wondering what technically defines a publisher. If they're not the gatekeeper to the presses and bookstore distribution and if they're not given any rights to the works, are they "publishers"?
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Old 08-07-2009, 05:47 PM   #11
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I said not enough digital content, at this point in time. Eventually, I hope the situation will rectify itself. But to continue the thought...... As more and more PD content becomes available and smart publishers begin making all new content available digitally and, hopefully, publishers begin reissuing (again digitally) older content. IMO people are willing to pay for the content they want, it is just not yet available.
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Old 08-07-2009, 06:22 PM   #12
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I bought books when I wanted to own them as a physical object. I'd borrow them from a library or read in a bookstore when I just wanted to read.

I dislike the idea of buying electronic books when the display/consumption technology is so primitive and mediocre compared to he deceptively simple concept of a printed and bound book. I am willing to in order to support development in some small way, but currently I can't take ebooks seriously enough. Simple direct consumption was more or less free for me...ownership was a different matter entirely. Once there's some feeling of ownership and less of a feeling of mediocrity that I get with all ebook reader devices, my digital purchases will probably skyrocket.

Heck, I would buy a scroll version of a book over an electronic version if given the choice, considering today's technology for reading.

Probably a very small concern in the grand scheme of things, but definitely something that affects my status as a consumer.
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Old 08-07-2009, 06:59 PM   #13
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The greatest threat to the publishing industry?

Publishing identical books by identical authors over and over and over and over. . .

Same reason I don't go to the movies anymore except for the newest Pixar release.

Gone are the days when publishers would publish a book because it was *good* even if they expected to lose money on it. 'The Lord of the Rings' would never have gotten published in today's environment. If it's not going to be a blockbuster, then the big publishers aren't interested anymore.
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Old 08-07-2009, 07:02 PM   #14
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What others said... their own idiocy is their biggest problem.
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Old 08-07-2009, 08:22 PM   #15
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I voted "other."

I think the biggest threat to the publishing industry is free content online. Not "free ebooks," but content: blogs, news, cat macros, discussion forums, email lists, chatrooms...

Publishers don't have a direct problem with people who don't read. Even knowing that 80 years ago, they had a larger percentage of the population to sell to, well, we've balanced out the smaller percentage of readers-for-pleasure with larger numbers of them, with more leisure time.

Which they are often spending reading... blogs.
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