Publishers brace for another big hit

Book publishing is a challenge at the best of times. With the onslaught of COVID-19, it has cause even more problems.

Book publishers suffer as sales of printed material wanes. Book publishers, authors, libraries and book clubs need to sit down together to find ways where the industry can be revitalized and revived. 

Read the followup commentary at the foot of this post.

Here are some ideas the interested parties may be interested in considering:

  • Could book clubs be persuaded to consider ‘batch purchases” of books they plan to read and discuss?
  • Could publishers be persuaded to discount “batch purchases” or to register book clubs interested in buying batch sales at discounted prices?

Below is an article from the Toronto Star, May 23rd by Gregory Strong:

[Disclosure: at press time, the article was unavailable as a direct link to the Toronto Star] PUBLISHERS BRACE

Almost all the authors connected with the website have responded negatively to this TORSTAR article. We believe they are correct in their stand. A comparison can be drawn to the serfdom of the Middle Ages or slavery in America. The powers that be cry wolf but arguably have no regard or consideration for the downtrodden they trample. 

Website publishing differs from print publishing very significantly. Most importantly, our masters differ. Website publication rents a publishing site; print publication exploits success with no considerations. When a website becomes increasingly popular, the rent remains unchanged. When a book becomes popular, the publisher’s profit grows in relation to the growing popularity.

Not to draw comparisons between web publishing and print publishing. But print publishing seems to never have developed or grown. At creation, authors paid unfairly to have publishers provide them with a needed service. This model remains unchanged; authors are still exploited.

The first views taken in relation to the Toronto Star Gregory Strong article were that the publishing industry was in dire straights, fatally ill, its demise imminent once book returning began. At first glance, the solution seemed likely through a combined effort joining Authors, Book Clubs, interested readers and publishers. However, our connected authors have caused us to reconsider whether there would be any goodwill at this table. Likely none. Each group has its own agenda but if one continues the Middle Ages analogy, the label “lords” can be applied to one delegation only. The remainder is serfs, to be exploited endlessly by the lords.

Self publishing?
All authors, but especially newbies, should give how they will publish their work very careful and serious consideration. Print publishers see profit trumping everything they do. They also see authors as captive slaves to be used as they see fit, again profit rears its raging head. No publisher can unashamedly claim their work is solely for the benefit of their writers. Print costs, design costs, editing costs, production costs, the cost gamut is endless and each takes a bite from the fee paid to the writer. In the end, the writer earns pennies. 

Print publishers
The flipside of the publishing method deserves consideration. Printing via an established publisher gives the author some credibility. There is obvious merit with an established and recognized entity publishing a new or unknown author. Though this position may be arguable, there is no dispute that an established publisher has recognition and reputation. Hence, a new author benefits from this relationship from the outset. But is the price the new author will pay justified? The dilemma is a personal one for each author.

Therefore, the best route for writers to take in publishing their works is to do it themselves. [We will offer advice in regard to self-publishing soon.]

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