UPDATE: Covey has signed a deal with Rosetta & Amazon making Amazon the exclusive distributor of Covey’s ebooks backlist! Pretty big news: Here’s more in the New York Times:
Amazon, maker of the popular Kindle e-reader and one of the biggest book retailers in the country, will have the exclusive rights to sell electronic editions of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” and a later work, “Principle-Centered Leadership.” Mr. Covey also plans to gradually make other e-books available exclusively to Amazon, which will promote them on its Web site.
The move promises to raise the already high anxiety level among publishers about the economics of digital publishing and could offer authors a way to earn more profits from their works than they do under the traditional system.
Mike Cane has a post on it too
This morning I had a very engaging chat with a student writing a thesis on self-publishing in Ireland and comparing it to self-publishing internationally. The discussion was wide ranging (though perhaps a bit too much of me). At one point I mentioned thatin some ways traditional publishing was getting caught in the middle with the lower tiers of publishing falling into Print on Demand and self-publishing territory (as I discuss here) and the upper tiers ripe for big stars to defect to self-publishing options. I couldn’t think off hand of an example (except for an author I worked with recently who only recently revealed a plan to self publish whose name I couldn’t reveal).
Then I came home and logged into twtetr and read this twitter comment (yes I use it compulsively: http://www.twitter.com/eoinpurcell) pushed me to this Wall Street Journal article about the plans of Stephen Covey:
Stephen R. Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” will launch a new self-published line of short books tomorrow called the Insight Series.
You don’t get much bigger than Stephen Covey, frankly he is massive.
Authors are brands
Really they may well be the only brands publishers have unless they manage to create a sensible strategy around their own names like Tor.com, Mills & Boon and Osprey have. If they don’t act to create better partnerships with these top level authors, I believe they will loose a lot of them to self-publishing enterprises like Stephen’s effort. It is simply too lucrative a proposition for many of them.
If you ask me (and you haven’t) game is heating up. It is becoming clearer by the day that the existing models of publishing are unsustainable. Change is unavoidable. I wonder will we, as an industry, respond?
PS: If you’d like to think some more about that Author as Brand concept, here is a nice audio piece from New Hamphsire public radio featuring Sarah Weinman on the topic. It is well worth listening to.