The future of publishing

Go Read This | A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing: Konrath Ebooks Sales Top 100k

Early mover advantage seems to be working out pretty nicely for JA Konrath.


This is only Konrath’s experience, but I wonder how much it is replicated? I see a world of extremes emerging in digital publishing. It is one where the tendency in the physical book world towards best sellers garnering outsized market share and sales is  even more dramatic. BIG winners will emerge but I suspect the mass of authors will be only very modest sellers and what’s more they will be increasingly face more and more competition from more and more writers.

My best selling Hyperion ebook, Whiskey Sour, has sold 2631 ebooks since 2004. That’s earned me about $2200, or $34 a month since it was released.

$34 a month per ebook is a far cry from the $1700 a month per ebook I’m making on my own.

Why are my self-pubbed ebooks earning more than Whiskey Sour, which remains my bestselling print title with over 80,000 books sold in various formats?

Because Hyperion has priced Whiskey Sour at $4.69 on Amazon, and I price my ebooks at $2.99.

For each $4.69 ebook they sell, I earn $1.17.

For each $2.99 ebook I sell, I earn $2.04.

So I’m basically losing money hand over fist because Hyperion is pricing my ebooks too high, and giving me too low a royalty rate.

Even the print sales (Whiskey Sour just went into a fifth printing) don’t come close to making up the money I’m losing.

via A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing: Konrath Ebooks Sales Top 100k.

Go Read This | Gamebooks, branching narratives and adventure

Well worth reading and thinking over and over and over!

And it is all these things that make gamebooks great, and unique. While there have been plenty of things that are similar, very few have proved quite as uniquely engrossing or successful at marrying the pretending to the rules as has the branching narrative. The early ‘80s turned out a lot of treasure hunts, and while Masquerade was beautiful to look at, readers weren’t enchanted by the magical escapism so much as caught up in an explosive collision of puzzle fever and expensive prizes. Picture puzzle books came in every shape and size in those days, Fighting Fantasy author Ian Livingstone even wrote one, but none of them had the same power to gleefully hijack your identity as the CYOA and FF-type gamebooks. In fact, in my view, the closest thing to a gamebook isn’t a book at all; it’s not even Dungeons&Dragons. It’s the text adventure video game – and its modern young nephews, the Interactive Fictions and all the text-based online games that seem to co exist happily and modestly in the same niche today.

via Gamebooks, branching narratives and adventure.

Go Read This | Why Print Publishing Will Never Die | Ditchwalk

There is much here in a short space, but it’s all worth reading!

That’s why broadcast television is going to die of a certainty, and why print publishing never will. Because physical books have always met the on-demand test. It’s their greatest strength, by far, and always has been.

via Why Print Publishing Will Never Die | Ditchwalk.

Go Read This | There’s only one Seth Godin, but there are other authors who might emulate him – The Shatzkin Files

A rather good piece by Mike Shatzkin on Seth’s move.

Publishers should have remembered the axiom that you should be careful what you wish for. This was, perhaps, the beginning of the unbundling of the publisher’s suite of services to the author. It used to be that the publication of a book was the platform and the publishers’ publicity and marketing efforts worked to capitalize on it. This was all part and parcel of the package: paying an advance; editing and shaping the book; putting it into a distributable (printed and bound) form; getting it known; and, of course, getting it into a store where a customer could buy it.

via There’s only one Seth Godin, but there are other authors who might emulate him – The Shatzkin Files.

Go Read This | A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing: The Changing Face of Publishing

You should read the whole post, but I wanted to pull one quote out and think it over.

On the one hand, JA is right here. There will be fewer books printed. That will result in fewer books sold through bookstores.

However while that may well result in fewer bookstores the surviving stores will do better.

Follow the logic through:

1) Ebooks claim a greater share of book sales
2) Print runs drop (for most books) to accomodate this
3) Gross physical book sales drop
4) Marginal bookstores close
5) Marginal sales drift
a) away for ever
b) to ebooks
c) to other bookstores
6) Surviving stores will win sales and market share for print
7) Surviving (well run) stores will be more profitable even in declining print markets.

Fewer books printed means fewer sold in bookstores, who will no longer be able to stay open. Without bookstore orders, publishers will print even fewer books. And so on.

via A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing: The Changing Face of Publishing.

Go Read This | – The end of the guidebook?

I’ve mused about the effect of the internet on Travel Publishing a few times here. The FT has a nice piece on it that really hits home the figures:

And the latest news from the front line is not good. In fact, over the past two and a half years, guidebook sales in Britain have fallen off a cliff. Sales for 2009 were down 18 per cent on 2007, and if the second half of this year follows the first, 2010 will be down 27 per cent on 2007, according to data from Nielsen BookScan. If the current rate of decline continues, the final guidebook will be sold in less than seven years’ time.

Lonely Planet’s Australia guide sold 20,015 copies in 2008, and just 13,530 in 2009 – a drop of a third (again, the figures are from Nielsen BookScan, covering sales from British retailers). The Rough Guide to France, which sold 11,943 in 2008, fell 45 per cent to 6,561 the following year. Worse is that these are considered bestsellers.

Of course, the fortunes of individual titles fluctuate with the launch of new editions and the fashionability of destinations, but average sales across the whole range paint an equally bleak picture. Last year, the average UK sale of each title from the leading five publishers was around 1,500 copies.

via / Reportage – The end of the guidebook?.

Quick Link | Smashwords: Smashwords Publishes 15,000th Indie Ebook

I’ve had a soft spot for Smashwords since it launched. This is quite the milestone!

Traditional publishers have always been challenged to predict which books will become commercial successes. They acquire books they think they can sell. In my view, the Achilles heel of traditional publishers is their myopic fixation on commercial potential. Sure, they have businesses to run, and Manhattan sky rise rents to pay. And yes, they employ brilliant and generous people who are passionate about books. Yet because they’re running businesses limited by decades-old business models and cost structures, they’re not able to take risks on every author. Nor do they want to.

I created Smashwords so I could take a risk on every author, including the author who writes for an audience of one. Because our platform is self-serve and extremely automated, we enjoy a low cost structure that enables this risk-taking, and also allows us to return up to 85% of all net sales back to the author or publisher.

via Smashwords: Smashwords Publishes 15,000th Indie Ebook.