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Sydewinder
08-11-2010, 06:00 PM
In the last few days I've thought about the usage of "traditional publisher" vs. "Commercial Press" and I'm wondering if you guys would tell me what you see as the definition of "Commercial Publisher"

To me it implies a publisher that sells books on the commercial market. Which would seem to include all publishers, big, small, off-set, pod, epub . . . etc. But on the boards, it seems to only apply to off-set publishers who get their books on shelves in stores. I'm not sure if I agree with that definition, if that is the definition.

CaoPaux
08-11-2010, 06:36 PM
Commercial means just that: sales to the (general public) commercial markets, as opposed to, say, academic, business, or government markets. Off-set and digital are printing methods, used by all types of publishers, and POD is a business model which by definition precludes its products from entering commercial distribution channels.

thothguard51
08-11-2010, 06:41 PM
Good response CaoPaux,

Of course, those who use POD do not like to hear POD is not commercial, which is why many use the term traditional instead of commercial... From what I have seen...

Toothpaste
08-11-2010, 06:55 PM
From what I understand "traditional publisher" was invented by vanity presses so they could compare their services to what the commercial publishers provide. The idea was to suggest that sure, you can go the traditional route if you want, but you also have this new exciting self pub/POD etc route and maybe you would prefer to be at the forefront of a revolution than go with the tired tradition route of stuffy white men sitting in their towers changing your golden words (I should add here, that there's nothing wrong with self pub or POD, just that the vanity presses who earn their cash in such a fashion like to imply that such methods are WAY better than "traditional" ones for a myriad of reasons)!

Basically "Traditional Publishing" isn't a term used in publishing. It is really only used by people trying to sell their version of non-traditional publishing. The term "commercial publishing" is the one that came up as the proper term to refer to any publishing house that sells books to readers (as opposed to vanity publishing that sells books back to their authors and that's how they make the lion's share of their money). It simply means a publisher in the usual sense of the word, small press, big six, if the publisher pays for the putting together and printing of and distribution and selling of one's book, without the author having to contribute anything financially, they are commercial.

CaoPaux
08-11-2010, 07:39 PM
<rumination> Commercial is further divided into Trade (bookstores) and Mass Market (e.g., grocery stores) distribution systems.

A POD press can position itself as "commercial" -- i.e., its primary source of income is sales to readers and not from its authors (whether directly as up-front vanity or indirectly through author purchases for resale and/or using authors as an unpaid sales/marketing force) -- and some do achieve that by competent handling of niche markets and short runs (either off-set or digital). </rumination>

Sydewinder
08-11-2010, 08:19 PM
Commercial means just that: sales to the (general public) commercial markets, as opposed to, say, academic, business, or government markets. Off-set and digital are printing methods, used by all types of publishers, and POD is a business model which by definition precludes its products from entering commercial distribution channels.

I think if the definition of Commercial is "Sales to the general public," than all publishers qualify simply by listing their books on amazon or on their own website for that matter. I don't think you can preclude one group from the title because they lack as vast a distribution market as another. can you? I think you can say that Commercial Publisher "A" is better than Commercial Publisher "B" because they have a wider distribution, but that's it.

My point to all this is, the more I think about it, the more I think that perhaps "Traditional" vs. "non-traditional" is a more accurate descriptor.

"Traditionally" books are printed in the thousands and sold in stores, as such, anything that deviates is not "traditional." That would include POD/E/subsidy/ and any other model that may exist.

I mentioned it on other threads, but "Traditional Publishing" has been a term adopted by several very well respected and successful literary agents and is used on their blog posts (I'll attach the links to the same ones I posted on the other thread here on AW). I think in these posts it's being used to describe off-set publishing vs. POD/E publishing/self publishing/vanity publishing (is that the impression you get?)

http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2010/04...hat-hurts.html

http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010...ishing_21.html

But more and more, I'm seeing the use of the term, "traditional publishing," as a means by which many AW members identify "red flags" or publishers deemed misinformed. I'm not sure I agree--regardless of the origin.

Becky Black
08-12-2010, 03:08 PM
Is there a distinction to be made here between forms of publishing and forms of distribution.

Lots of perfectly legitimate publishers, small presses for example, who are doing the normal traditional form of publishing - paying the author, not vice-versa - may be using non-traditional methods of distribution, like e-books, print on demand and so on. I know I often buy books on Amazon UK or The Book Depository that are published by small - but entirely legit - publishers in the US and are printed on demand here in the UK. Without that I'd be having to import them from the US, or only have the e-book option. Seems like an efficient model for small publishers or even for big ones for the books that probably aren't going to sell a huge number of copies.

Toothpaste
08-12-2010, 05:13 PM
You know what, I think I made a bit of a mess when I added POD to my post. I agree that there are commercial publishers that use POD as a printing model, and yes epublishers can be commercial too. It's really just self publishers and vanity presses that are not commercial, and coincidentally are the ones who invented the traditional term.

Sydewinder
08-12-2010, 08:43 PM
I'm inclined to agree, toothpaste. The more I ponder this question the more I think that a "commercial publisher" needs to be defined as a publishing house that promotes their titles. I think it has very little to do with distribution outlets, though that is part of promotion. Perhaps "Traditional" also needs to be defined as "promotion" rather than distribution. With new publishing models coming on the market, some of which I think have serious potential for success, the use of the term "traditional" isn't the red-flag it once was--imo.