Although only a few companies dominate the e-bookselling landscape, publishers are nevertheless able to hold the line on pricing and discounting to what they feel is a sustainable level.
However, because there are only a few players in the e-bookselling world, it becomes very tempting for authors to deal with Amazon, Apple, B&N, etc. directly in order to maximize their revenue. Publishers lose some of their top authors because of these direct deals and instead have to re-imagine themselves as packagers offering a collection of services.
Authors then have the choice of whether to handle their editing, design and marketing themselves and have their agents negotiate deals directly or take a smaller cut in exchange for publishers handling these nuts and bolts items for them. Some publishers probably survive, but they’re not as crucial as they used to be. Authors have choices, though they are likely going to have to assume a great deal of responsibility for marketing their own work.
'…publishers handling these nuts and bolts items for them.' I thought the Chinese did all the nuts and bolts items now?
Wow. It really does look bleak for publishers when you put it like that. It seems that authors are being prepared for the marketing responsibility already with all pressure to self-promote.
Brilliant post. Very thought provoking.
NOOO! I don't like this ending!! I want libraries and books to stay!
Claude Forthomme says
Bravo! Very clever and I really think that's what going to happen – but then I'm an economist (Columbia U.) and a born pessimist, like all economists and, like them, usually wrong!
Aimee Laine says
I see ebooks like the rise of digital photography to that industry (which is also mine). The problem inherent to photography is that once a camera is in hand, the holder is then "a photographer" and fails to LEARN about the industry.
My hope is that the publishing industry will remember that writing is not just an art, it's also a business. That's what has failed the photography industry. "Everyone" can be a photographer. Not everyone "can" be a business person and thus the industry has suffered.
Publishing will go through that too, but I think it'll actually be up to the publishers/agents/editors/marketers to educate the authors and us authors who'll need to educate our readers as to just why that book cost $9.99 in whatever form it is.
Note : my customers think that I should charge significantly less when I sell them a digital ilfe … and yes I charge significantly MORE. Just because it *can* be cheaper doesn't mean it *should* be. 🙂
I'm holding out hope for a win-win … 🙂
J. T. Shea says
You're still nine years behind the times, Nathan. More 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY than CHOSE YOUR OWN E-BOOK ADVENTURE.
Reena Jacobs says
Some of these predictions are already happening. Top selling authors are seeing the financial benefits of publishing their own work through places like Amazon. By self-publishing, they receive a bigger cut even when selling at lower prices. And their books are making money right away instead of waiting 12-24 months down the line for publishers to roll out the work.
Of course there are authors who'll stick hard and fast to the traditional publishing models. That's a choice. But with the eBook technology and the ease of uploading one's work to the public, self-publishing because a viable option for many.
Doesn't mean print books are going away though. From my research, the traditional route still seems to be more profitable due to the discounts received by producing in mass rather than POD.