Some calmer thoughts on the future

Eoin Purcell

There has been a lot of comment on Barry Eisler’s recent series written for MJ Rose on Buzz, Balls & Hype (my original thoughts).

Adam Hodgkin asks me why I am so alarmed and rightly so saying:

It seems to me that everything is going the publisher’s way. Agents cant do what publishers do. Booksellers cant do the other bit either. So the value chain is up for grabs by the publisher. Mind you they will need to pay higher royalties — especially to Thom Yorke and Madonna when they next do books.

And writing a fine blog post that really is reassuring:

Publishers will sell digital editions direct because that is going to be the most efficient way to do it. Further they will do it because this is going to be a very profitable development for most book publishers, especially those that cater to niches (and most book publishers DO cater to niches). They will outsource the tricky parts (eg customer service or technological innovation), to operations like Exact Editions, but they will be better placed than the record labels to provide this kind of service to the creators.

Over at PersonaNonData the response is detailed and split in three too:

Lastly, admittedly we haven’t seen a huge amount of dynamism from mainstream publishers but I do think you treat them as too static relative to the change going on around them. I do believe publishers will react faster and in (perhaps) revolutionary ways but I can understand your skepticism

Much to think about in both, and in this third piece on if:book:

Rather than heralding a new age of self-determination by artists, the Madonnas and Stephen Kings are the exceptions that prove the rule that, while distribution may have been radically flattened by the net, attention and audience are as hard (if not harder) to come by as ever. How the vast majority of writers will make a living, and how they might have to adapt their craft to do so, is far less clear

Damn fine stuff all round and worth reading

Still thinking
Eoin

PS: Berlin is great and one of the highlights was this place.

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One comment

  1. I would still like mainstream publishers to use the emerging publish/print on demand technology to print more books by a more diverse selection of writers. In the old days, publishers would have to commit to publishing X thousand copies of an author’s book and might have to pay expensive printing costs plus warehousing, distribution, pulping and remaindering.

    With the new technology, publishers can meet the demands of the marketplace and not be stuck with a massive (expensive) backlog. Books are printed as orders come in–this might give more voice to marginalized or niche writers, literary vagabonds and radicals. Publishers could take more chances and give developing writers more time to earn larger readerships with each subsequent novel.

    Just a thought…

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