Perhaps most anxious about all the brouhaha over e-books have been the publishers. Traditional publishers are worried, perhaps even afraid of all the change, while self-publishing companies (including POD, or print on demand companies) have visions of greater revenues. In any case, I see the main effects as follows:
- The more adaptable traditional publishers will survive and even thrive after a few bumps in the road
- There will be more specialized publishers aimed at niches
- There will be more and more self-publishing
- Cost of entry for future publishers will be minimal
- Among the big publishing houses, there will be a devolution from complex, centralized management to semi-autonomous editorial units
- 50% digital royalty rate may be inevitable
- Despite all the change, the greatest value of traditional publishing will remain–the editorial process–ensuring their survival
In the latest self-publishing development, Barnes & Noble has now launched their own digital self-publishing platform called PubIt to compete with Amazon’s Create Space. (They’re also coming out with a color Nook to try and take down Amazon’s Kindle and compete more evenly with the iPad.)
As an example of the devolution that is beginning in traditional publishing, in early 2011 Simon & Schuster will reorganize into “small teams of editors, publicists, and marketing specialists.”
According to their new head, Jonathan Karp, each team, comprised of 2 editors, 2 publicists, and a marketing specialist, “will propose, develop, and execute their own publicity and marketing plans, from the moment of acquisition through paperback publication…”
“The chief objective is to create the publishing environment most conducive to focused concentration on our authors,” he continued. “Those who are present at the creation are more likely to bring a greater depth of understanding and experience to the publication of these books. Our authors will benefit from having a dedicated team working on their behalf early in the process.”
Such a development can only be good for writers, who, at times, have had to kowtow to unknowns in the large marketing or sales departments in order to get their books even approved, however lauded their work may be by the editors.
These were the main effects I could forecast from all I’ve read. If you foresee any others, please comment.
My next post will deal with the effects on agents.