Friday, May 16, 2008

Matheson; Trotsky Forever; Future Publishing

Very cool to go to my local supermarket and see a three book-wide display of all those Richard Matheson $4.99. novels. I picked up Shrinking Man and Earthbound. For one fine moment I was a teenager again and buying pbs off a rotating wire rack.

I got three off-line letters saying that I'd apparently handed in my Trotsky Forever membership card because in commenting on Robert Bloch's The Kidnapper I seemed to be saying that people have no right to use violence against their persecutors. I didn't mean to suggest that at all. Even though I'm skeptical of many revolutions--too often the replacements are just as bad in a different direction--sometimes overthrow is absolutely necessary. Same in the days of the Molly Maguires and the Pinkertons being hired killers for the railroads and the other robber barons. Definitely had a right to shoot back, kill if necessary. The problem is that myths get in the way of reality. The myth of Jesse James as the hero of the oppressed was bloody false. Emphasis on bloody. Many of his victims were shot in the back and that includes (allegedly) a few women who had the misfortune of being on one of the trains he was robbing. No group has exclusive bragging rights on morality. That's all I meant.

Very interesting article on Galleycat today from Forbes website. What the writer is proposing is probably ten years off but it's sure intriguing to contemplate.

How Amazon Could Change Publishing
by Sramana Mitra

Technology has disrupted every industry. Now, it's book publishing's turn.

Archaic beyond belief, it's an industry that treats its most important asset--the author--badly. Can this go on?

The book market in the United States is worth about $32 billion a year; the rest of the world, an additional $36 billion. Who makes the money? Not the author.

Retailers take almost 50%. The agent takes 15% to 20%. The publisher gets squeezed--it's cause for huge celebration if they make 20%.

"On a book that costs $24.95, the author gets at most $1 to $1.50," says Eileen Gittins, chief executive of Blurb, an online print-on-demand publisher of photography books.

Join the discussion: Is book publishing outmoded? Do authors have better alternatives? Is there a white knight who can help? Tell us what you think in the Readers Comments section below.

The first major technology-enabled change in the industry came when digital print-on-demand presses started becoming affordable. Although printing on demand is 30% more expensive than off-set printing, it doesn't have the minimum run requirements of 500 to 700 copies.

Self-publisher iUniverse, which uses a print-on-demand back-end, gained legitimacy after Amy Fisher, the "Long Island Lolita," used it to publish her memoir, which hit the New York Times best-seller list. It's the best-selling book in iUniverse history, selling more than 34,000 copies.

However, for authors looking to gain serious readership, the big question still remains unanswered: How would they market and distribute their books?

for the rest go here

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mitra is seriously off-base. Royalties on a New York-published $24.95 hardcover book are still ten, twelve and a half, and fifteen percent, based on volume-- not a buck or thereabouts.

Publishers and agents aren't simply "middle men." They perform valuable and absolutely essential services in the creation of a book. Editors select and vet manuscripts, copyeditors discipline them, proofreaders make essential corrections and publishers market them. Agents are vitally important gatekeepers. These functions are crucial, and can't be trumped by Amazon's technology.

The flood of garbage from vanity and self-publishing enterprises is simply driving readers toward brands and house names they know and trust. Technology may flood the marketplace with ersatz books, but it is also making traditional houses more important and more commanding than ever as savvy readers learn to avoid the junk.

Richard Wheeler