Publishers have been taking some rather unpopular stands lately. The agency model for e-books raised the price for many e-books, they have removed e-books from libraries, and they spend millions of dollars on the latest celebrity memoir even as great midlist authors go unsupported or get dropped entirely. Accordingly, I see a whole lot of angst against publishers around the Internet, especially in social media.
Are publishers going the way of record labels in the public’s eye as greedy dinosaurs who failed to keep pace with the times? (To be clear: I like publishers a great deal. But I see a lot of complaints out there.)
What’s kind of amazing to me is that the “shop on the corner” effect usually favors the old timers against the newfangled upstart, but in consumers’ eyes I’m not sure publishers are winning the sympathy battle against Amazon and others.
And there are real consequences to a failure of public perception: Consumers may find it easier to justify pirating from those Big Bad Meanie
Publishers if they feel they’re being treated unfairly. Readers may not care as much about supporting the traditional publishing system and curation. And authors faced with a choice between working with publishers and going on their own may choose to eschew traditional publishing.
Do publishers have a perception problem? And if so, what should they do about it?
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Art: “Kätzchen im Boudoir” by Carl Reichert