Monday, April 26, 2010

Publish or perish

by Jane

With all of the sturm und drang going on in the publishing business over the last few months with regard to Amazon, Apple and Google, there is an enormous amount of confusion—understandably.

I found this article in this week’s New Yorker to be quite enlightening. Even if it will “date” quickly because of the speed at which things are changing, I highly recommend that all published and unpublished writers read it. There is much to learn and absorb here.

I would be interested in hearing what you think.


  1. I shared this article on my writing blog just last night. Very interesting and insightful!

  2. Yes, I saw a link on another blog last week. It's a great article - but you are right that things are changing too quickly for this to be more than a snapshot.

    One thing that I think publishers don't realize is that with cheaper prices ebooks will not be competing with hardbacks - they'll be competing directly with the aftermarket of used books. We can expect growth in the market to offset the lower price.

    The booksellers are the ones who have something to worry about - but I notice so many have already started to change what they do. They're gift shops and coffee houses now.

  3. Although you can get a book on an ipad, it is 1.5 pounds and a little heavier/more inconvenient to hold over time than a Kindle. In the past 10 years computer manufacturers sold about 1 million tablet pcs. Apple has sold about 1 million ipads so far ( Primarily Apple considers this a tablet pc, a phenomenal computing device and though publishers get very excited about the book reading potential of the ipad, I don't think most people buy them with that feature in mind. Plus, you have to charge the ipad a lot more frequently than the kindle because more color = more battery use.

    That said, this quote struck me most from the article:
    “Publishers never built the infrastructure to respond to customers.” Without bookstores, it would take years for publishers to learn how to sell books directly to consumers. They do no market research, have little data on their customers, and have no experience in direct retailing. With the possible exception of Harlequin Romance and Penguin paperbacks, readers have no particular association with any given publisher; in books, the author is the brand name.

    Who do you think Apple targets as customers? Now apply that same question to Amazon. I think the latter has a better sense of how to reach book lovers.

  4. As I Kindle owner I find that I will not buy a book priced over $9.99. I also find that I am reading more books than I have in ten years. I spend more money on books. There have been a couple of occassions when I was going to buy a book, it was held back, and by the time it was realeased as an ebook I'd moved on. I used to buy 15 or 20 hardcover books a year. Now I will only buy hardcovers when a writer friend has a new book coming out. Then I don't usually read it, I like reading on my Kindle.

    I can't imagine that people who buy an ipad will read more. There are too many apps to distract them. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think the Ipad is the savior publishers are looking for.If anything their tactics will drive Amazon to publish more books on their own.

  5. Aaargh. It's all so confusing. I just went to an SCBWI event with Stephen Roxburgh speaking about the current industry and what he thinks it means for books and authors and publishers. And even then he said, "Everything I say tonight could be obsolete in 24 hours." Truly it makes my head spin.

    As a hopeful author just polishing what I hope will be my first novel, I don't even know what direction to turn anymore. So I'm sticking with my husbands advice- Write a great book and the rest will take care of itself. And really I have to refocus myself on that every now and then. I want to be informed about the business, but the book is all I have control over. The rest is a gamble. Everything changes too quickly to try to guess which road will lead to the greatest success.

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  7. I purchased an iPad because of the versatility. I'd been in the market for an eReader and was weighing the pros and cons of Kindle vs. Nook. Nook had won in my mind--until the iPad was announced.

    I have never used a Kindle or a Nook, other than to play around with the store model Nook for about five minutes. But I can tell you what I like about my iPad:

    *Even if the battery power isn't as supposedly phenomenal as the other eReaders, I have used my iPad for a total of at least two hours a day (and probably more) since the I bought it (the day it was released) and have only had to charge it about three times. This has been with internet use, game playing, movie watching, writing on Pages, app downloading and yes, reading the first eBook I bought (the Nanny Returns).

    * I find it very comfortable to use for all of these functions, much thinner and lighter than my net book.

    * I love the case that Apple sells for it. By propping it up and letting the screen go horizontal, I've been able to read while keeping my hands free to do other things, such as when I'm eating lunch at work.

    * The display is beautiful and I love being able to stream movies from my Netflix account.

    * I read the Help on my iPhone through the B&N Nook app before the iPad came out. It certainly is doable, but I definitely enjoy reading the Nanny Returns on the big screen more!

    *My library offers free downloads of audio books that are iPod compatible and ebooks (for computer screens) through Overdrive, yet these ebooks are not available for Kindles or Nooks. I am hopeful that these ebooks will soon become available for iPads.

    *And, obviously, the versatility. Being able to type what I'm working on where ever I go, not having to worry about the battery dying on me, and being able to also read my current book, read the newspaper, listen to music, surf the web, from one purse-sized machine is wonderful.

  8. I personally haven't seen that book, but I'll definitely go and look for it, concerning about the publishing crisis, i think they just have lack of advice from strategic planning services team.

  9. i loved the Homo sapines one! It was skillfully written!!

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