This article at the New Yorker concerning the changes in the publishing industry is very interesting, but very lopsided.
It also had some mistakes in it. Such as the number of books ‘sold’ on the first day of the iPad release. The numbers Apple released were how many were DOWNLOADED, not sold. And considering the iBookstore came stocked with about 30000 free books, that gives that figure a completely different meaning. It means that possibly a good chunk of that number were freebies with which to try out the iPad and not the overpriced ebooks from the Big 5 (thanks to the Agency Model. Random House has so far been smart enough to opt out of the Agency Model).
In fact, I haven’t seen any figures on how many books have actually SOLD in the iBookstore. Has anyone else?
The article also didn’t say much about the reader reaction to all of this, other than the token paragraph at the end. Readers are revolting against higher prices. They are leaving one-star reviews on Amazon. Penguin isn’t allowing ebooks into Amazon at all. On a Kindle mailing list I’m on, the publishers aren’t forcing people to go elsewhere for these books. They are causing readers to BOYCOTT their books.
(As an aside, with the lack of an open e-book standard that ALL the ebook readers can read, means that the publishers are preventing an entire population that own a different ebook device from buying their books. A lot of people aren’t savvy enough to know how to strip DRM’s, which is illegal, and convert the files to a different type of file. In any case, it’s a bad business move.)
The Publishers are waiting the readers out. With so many good Indi books and free books, is that a wise course of action for the big publishers? Only time will tell, but it’s not looking good for the big publishers.
Or how the authors themselves don’t mind being pursued by Amazon and others after years of piddly shrinking royalties, stifling or unfair contracts, the axe always waiting to fall thanks to ‘ordering to the net‘, and expecting the authors to do the marketing without recompense. All of it combines to make it difficulty to make a living while writing nowadays. It’s easier to squeeze the author than other areas of the business. A book fails, and despite having so little control over it (no say on title, cover, or marketing, IF any marketing is done), because apparently the Publisher knows more than the author, the author still gets blamed and dropped.
Oh, how wonderful.
The grumblings in the author underground have been building for years. Now that authors have new choices, of course the brave ones are going to take advantage of them! For too long the ‘big 6’ (and the publishers the level below) have been the only games in town.
And with readers looking to follow certain authors (author branding, not publisher branding), and wanting a decent price, the way of the Indi and small press is rising fast. I say Horrah!
And I say that as both a reader and an author. 🙂