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View Full Version : Hardcover book market goes soft



benbradley
05-30-2008, 10:32 PM
"Hardcover book market goes soft"
http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/05/29/book_publishing/

"Publishing is a world of increased competition, shrinking margins and long waits to see any green. Jill Barshay reports on how publishing houses are coping with changing times."

I thought the last sentence of the article was a bit off:

"Rose says publishers should think about a world where any writer can publish a book cheaply online and any reader can download it freely."

It seems to me that putting even a well-written and well-edited book up for free on a website isn't likely to have nearly as many downloads as a major publisher would have hardcopy sales due to their marketing and advertising abilities. An 'independent' or self-published book needs as much promotion as a large publisher's book for the public to hear about it. There are comments at the end of the article that address this.



Not sure where to put this thread (if it moves, I started it in the AW Roundtable), I don't see a forum that quite matches "book publishing business news", but whatever.

BarbaraKE
05-31-2008, 02:00 AM
I think the entire book publishing industry is not going to survive the way it is now. And I think the author will benefit.

As a business-type person, it seems that the publishing industry is one of the most inefficient and wasteful industries around. It needs a major overhaul but won't do it on its own.

I can't write at length right now (am meeting my sister for dinner) but will check in later.

SPMiller
05-31-2008, 02:35 AM
I proposed one possible solution in an AW thread a while back and found it to be received poorly, so I won't repeat it here.

Danger Jane
05-31-2008, 02:36 AM
I proposed one possible solution in an AW thread a while back and found it to be received poorly, so I won't repeat it here.

Seems to me that if you say something like this, you're itching to repeat it...

SPMiller
05-31-2008, 02:38 AM
You can simply look it up if you're interested.

Claudia Gray
05-31-2008, 03:11 AM
Compared to the way TV viewership and moviegoing is plummeting -- to say nothing of music industry sales -- publishing seems to be holding its own. So I wonder why we only hear about the "death" of publishing?

There will eventually be more format changes as more people get accustomed to reading on-screen and/or better e-book readers enter the market, though.

Kalyke
05-31-2008, 03:13 AM
I understood "freely" in the sentance to mean "at will," not "free of charge."

I am a total fan of on line down-loadable books. I am totally against the misuse of trees-- call me nature-girl. I hope Kendles and so on get cheaper, but I think a person could down load to a usb memory stick as well as to another form of media storage. I think the books should be cheaper because of less paper and printing costs-- but it should not be free or even super cheap. My only real problem with all this is the constant turn-over of technology.
What needs to happen though is better advertisement-- a huge online bookstore is still a store where people can't see things unless they voluntarily click on things. I don't know much about marketing, but I know that if some sign with a cute picture says this book is the latest and greatest, it will not be questioned. -- oh well I'm babbling.

BarbaraKE
05-31-2008, 06:36 AM
"Rose says publishers should think about a world where any writer can publish a book cheaply online and any reader can download it freely."


I understood "freely" in the sentance to mean "at will," not "free of charge."

I agree with USE HER NAME - it doesn't mean free of charge. But I do think it means significantly less than the cost of a paper book. Off-hand, that might seem bad for authors but it really isn't since much more of the price the consumer pays actually goes to the author.

Which would you prefer? Sell your book for twenty-five dollars (in hardcover format) and get your two or three dollars six months down the road. Or sell it for eight dollars in electronic format via a web site and keep the whole eight dollars. I know which one I'd pick.

Richard White
05-31-2008, 06:51 AM
The problem with electronic format (and as an e-book author, I'm not part of the dead-tree only society) is There is no frickin' format. Mobipocket, .pdfs, .txt, .html and who knows what next week.

What happens when you go back and pick out an old favorite and find out the newest e-reader de jure doesn't read your older format? How do you get a new, readable copy? Do you trust Microbroke or it's future successor to support older formats? Who makes the decision what formats survive?

Way too many questions and way too few answers.

The National Archives are going through this problem right now. 40 years ago, they sank a ton of money into putting everything they had on microfilm/microfische. Any one know where you can find a reader these days? Who's going to pay to convert all that stuff to .pdf? Who's going to pay to convert it again once the government decides that .pdf is too expensive and archaic to support?

That's the problem with electronic media . . . it gets outdated very fast. When was the last time anyone videotaped a show off the TV? Eight-tracks anyone?

Let's face it, outside of the paper getting so brittle you can't turn the pages, a book doesn't care what technology does. Eyes meet paper very well.

Danger Jane
05-31-2008, 08:12 AM
When was the last time anyone videotaped a show off the TV? Eight-tracks anyone?

We tape shows at my house pretty often. Three nights ago was the most recent.

Eight tracks were inconvenient, and because of that they were replaced. But CDs have been around for over twenty-five years, and even though digital media are growing hugely in popularity, CDs aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Profits are down, sure. But profits are down everywhere except for oil and pharmaceutical companies, right? I've never been in a CD store that was deserted except for me.

Elodie-Caroline
05-31-2008, 12:35 PM
For me, personally, I wish that publishers would put books onto CD roms, as well as on paper.
I have diabetic retinopthy, plus I've had a slow growing cataract on my left eye for the past 20 yrs. Reading paperbacks is very hard for me, even with a magnifying glass; hard cover books are much better, bigger print, but they are so expensive! I also have arthritis in my neck and wrists, which makes holding books and turning the pages over very difficult anyway.

Many-a-time I have got my husband to cut the spines from paperback books, which is sacrilege and breaks my heart, and then scan them, page by page for me. Reading my books on the computer is so much easier for me all round; a 22 ins screen and I don't have to squint or turn the pages!

So when are publishers going to get into modern technology and help people like me to carry on doing what we love? ... Reading.



Elodie

Exir
05-31-2008, 12:42 PM
So when are publishers going to get into modern technology and help people like me to carry on doing what we love? ... Reading.

When everybody boycotts paperbacks, and they suddenly won't earn any money in that area. Publishers are in it for the money, and for now, the market for CD-ROM books is so small that nobody bothers. Nobody wants to lose money.

Stacia Kane
05-31-2008, 12:59 PM
Elodie-Caroline, have you been to Fictionwise? There's a really wide range of downloadable ebooks now, lots of bestellers and all kinds of different books.

http://www.fictionwise.com/



.

VGrossack
05-31-2008, 03:32 PM
Yes, it's going to happen - and soon. Amazon with its Kindle will lead the way.

BarbaraKE
05-31-2008, 07:41 PM
The problem with electronic format (and as an e-book author, I'm not part of the dead-tree only society) is There is no frickin' format. Mobipocket, .pdfs, .txt, .html and who knows what next week.

That's a very good point but it's just a matter of time until one format wins out. Personally I think it'll be .html or something very similar. One of the benefits electronic books would have (over paper versions) would be the ability to include extra information.

For example, my son was reading my WIP (historical/horror) and came across the phrase 'hansom carriage'. He assumed it was a misprint, that I really mean 'handsome carriage'. Wouldn't it be neat if he could move his cursor over the phrase and have a picture of a 'hansom carriage' pop up?


What happens when you go back and pick out an old favorite and find out the newest e-reader de jure doesn't read your older format? How do you get a new, readable copy? Do you trust Microbroke or it's future successor to support older formats? Who makes the decision what formats survive?

I don't see that as being a problem. Almost all electronic technology is backwards-compatable and different formats can be handled by conversion programs.


The National Archives are going through this problem right now. 40 years ago, they sank a ton of money into putting everything they had on microfilm/microfische. Any one know where you can find a reader these days? Who's going to pay to convert all that stuff to .pdf? Who's going to pay to convert it again once the government decides that .pdf is too expensive and archaic to support?

The National Archives has to worry about preserving things over long periods of time. But when I buy a book, most of the time I'll read it in the immediate future and then never read it again. I'm not worried about whether I'll be able to read it forty years from now.



Let's face it, outside of the paper getting so brittle you can't turn the pages, a book doesn't care what technology does. Eyes meet paper very well.

Well, now that I'm getting older, the eyes don't meet paper quite as well.:) I'd love an electronic reader where I could just press a button and the font gets just a teensy bit bigger.

Soccer Mom
05-31-2008, 09:02 PM
Check out Amazon and Fictionwise. There are lots of great books available for download. I don't have a Kindle (too much money for me right now) so I download them to my PC and read them at my leisure.

ETA: I've merged these two threads since they both deal with publishing and the future of paper vs. ebooks. :)