This Week in Books #4: World Book Day and Hachette gets bigger

No video this week because I’m still sniffling and coughing. Which makes it difficult to record. But I do have two more topics to discuss today. I’ll dive right in.

The first is that Hachette, already one of the largest publishers in the US, acquired Perseus Books. Which means a huge publisher just got even bigger and one of the largest independent publishers is no longer independent. The deal adds several imprints to Hachette and probably more than $100M in revenue each year. How great it is for publishing, right?

The other topic is World Book Day. It was yesterday. The day celebrates all things books. Writers. Illustrators. Readers. Everything. And I think the founding organization also donates books or gives out book vouchers to kids. That’s nice, but there are way too many people who don’t take it seriously. What I mean is they tweet out stuff or post pictures on Instagram strictly to get likes or maybe new followers. They don’t care about actually promoting books. They don’t care about people who have no access to books while they consistently read the latest YA bestseller. And they don’t care about literacy. All they care about is their stupid social media accounts that amount to shit. If you want to be about promoting books and literacy, then be about promoting books and literacy. It’s actually really simple.

What do you think of a huge publisher getting bigger? Have any thoughts on World Book Day?

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HarperCollins Could Remove all of its Books From Amazon

Here we go again.

Everyone knows about the Amazon/Hachette dispute from last year in which it appeared the Big Five publisher was standing up to the internet giant. But the dispute was ultimately resolved when the sides reached a new agreement. One that Simon & Schuster and Macmillan also agreed to. But now HarperCollins comes along and thinks they’re different from everyone else.

In what world would it be a good idea to remove all of their books from Amazon? Maybe the CEO of Hachette left his position there and made the move to HarperCollins? Or maybe there are just some idiots running one of the biggest publishers in America who actually think this is a good business move. I have no idea.

Word on the street is that HarperCollins would try sending its readers to its own website that was made to decrease its dependency on Amazon. But how many people are buying books directly from publishers? I’m not and I don’t think I know anyone who does.

I don’t see this ever actually happening, but who knows? Crazier things have happened.


On this day in 2014 I published Coming up With the Perfect Title for Your Books is…Nearly Impossible.

 

Amazon v Hachette: Part II

Okay guys, this is going to be a rather short post because the a/c has not worked in my house for more than 24 hours and we found out that the unit can’t be fixed. So now we’re waiting for a new one. But sitting at the computer is making me sweat, so you’re getting a short post. It was right around 90 degrees in the house all night. Ugh.

So you all should know a little about the Amazon v Hachette dispute. Though it can’t be confirmed, the rumor is that the dispute is over how ebook prices will be split between the two. Typically retailers will take 30% of the list price, but word has it that Amazon wants more. That’s what we believe is at the heart of the dispute. As a result, Amazon has delayed the shipping of Hachette books and halted preorders.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I already wrote about that here. Recently Amazon offered to fund an author pool in conjunction with Hachette so that all affected authors would receive the full price of their books sold while negotiations are ongoing. But Hachette declined.

So before you go thinking Amazon is this evil empire trying to take over the universe, why not first ask the question of whether Hachette is really doing all this for their authors. I’m not so sure.

That’s all. I’m so hot I’m going to melt before this even publishes.

Traditional vs. Self-Publishing: And the winner is…

One of the major questions new authors face upon completing their manuscript is trying to decide whether traditional or self-publishing is a better fit for them and their work. Some authors will never self-publish because of their own beliefs about the self-publishing industry while others will try to go the traditional route and then self-publish after countless rejection letters from agents and/or editors. But is it even worth it? Are there enough advantages to self-publishing to justify taking that course? Let’s see.

Self-Publishing

The self-publishing industry has taken the book market by storm in recent years. There are seemingly companies popping up everyday that guarantee this or that for your newly released title. Mostly these are just to get you to take a look at their site where you’ll be bombarded with their so-called ‘success’ stories. You’ll read about one author who has sold enough books to quit their day job. Then another who became a NYT bestseller within their first couple of years of self-publishing. By this time you’re starting to get more and more interested and you’ve now begun looking into the packages and services offered by this particular company. Because in your head your book is just as good as any out there so if someone else can become a self-published bestselling author then so can you, right? Wrong.

Before continuing on further I would like to ask a question of you. How many self-published authors do you know by name?

It’s a simple enough question. So think about it. I’ll answer first…two. Kinda. Cause the two that I know are Hugh Howey and E.L. James. Both of these authors started out in self-publishing and experienced such success that traditional publishers came knocking at their doors. But they’re the exception. There are likely thousands of other struggling self-published authors for each of the major successful ones. For the record, I could probably name 50-100 traditionally published authors just off the top of my head.

But back to the point of this post. There are plenty of advantages to self-publishing. The author is finally able to say “I wrote a book.” The author has far more creative control when it comes to the manuscript and cover than he/she would if it was being done by a traditional publisher. The author will likely have a book available from the world’s largest bookstore Amazon.com. The quality of the books printed by self-publishers today is often no different than the quality of traditional publishers. Remember, I’m talking about the physical book and not the story itself.

Traditional Publishing

If this were a David vs. Goliath sort of post then the traditional publishing industry would be Goliath, accompanied by a vicious dog. The big five traditional publishers of Simon and Schuster, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Hachette, and HarperCollins maintain a stranglehold on the publishing industry that can’t be overstated. But in reality it’s not much more different from the top few companies in any industry. I’m thinking Wal Mart, Safeway, Kroger, and Costco in grocery or ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX when it comes to broadcasting major sporting events.

Before going further let me define what it means to go the ‘traditional’ publishing route. The author queries an agent. The agent reads through and decides to represent the manuscript and pitches the story to editors and contacts that he or she may have at a traditional publisher. Eventually the story gets picked up, or it doesn’t.

The traditional publishing industry is loaded with gatekeepers to keep the lesser writers out of the industry, because it all comes down to the publisher making money from selling the books it publishes, right? It’s hard to make money not selling books or by publishing books by just okay writers. It’s a business and their business model has worked largely unchanged for a long time. I read recently that only about 2% of all authors are able to successfully go the traditional publishing route. 2%! If you ever wonder why there are so many self-publishers and self-published authors out there today then take a look at that number right there as partly responsible.

But let’s not forget that traditional publishers take all the risk when it comes to publishing. All of it.

My Take

This is coming from someone who self-published his first book through CreateSpace. It’s simple. Traditional publishing continues to rule the publishing world, and it’s not even close. Sure there are a few authors who have managed to gain critical acclaim and sell thousands upon thousands of books through self-publishing, but the more persistent trend is that the author will sell a few hundred copies of their book and then fall by the wayside. It’s just how it is.

So when you finish that manuscript you’ve been working on and you go through and rewrite and rewrite some more and then come to this particular question, I would suggest sending out a few queries to some agents before self-publishing. But that’s just me.

Print vs. E-Book: Which side are you on?

ImageOne of the wonderful things about technology is that it causes us to ask questions that we had never previously thought of. The print vs. e-book question had never once been asked prior to the 2000s. But it’s a question that every bibliophile has struggled with at some point in recent years. I know I have. Before I discuss which side of the stick I happen to fall on, let’s delve into the battle a little bit first.

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Print

The printing of books hasn’t changed all that much since the advent of the printing press. The process has become easier and cheaper as technology advanced. No matter the price a particular publisher sets for the print edition of a book, the actual cost to print is essentially the same for all publishers. It isn’t as though one publisher has the printing technology of 2005 and another of 1900. Printing is printing and although the price of books is constantly changing, printing is still printing. For instance, I know exactly how much it costs to print my book.

Also, a print book is a physical object. You can hold it and dog ear your pages and highlight and then put it right back on your shelf to read again in the future once you’re finished reading. That means something to many readers.

In just a few short years print books, and thus publishers, have taken a hit from the e-book market. There of course was a time very recently in which all books were printed. Now only about 70% of book sales fall into this category. Think of owning your own business and losing nearly a third of your business before you even have time to react to what’s happening. This is exactly what happened in the last decade to the publishing industry. If you keep up with publishing like I do then you know that for the longest time there were the Big 6 publishers that maintained a stranglehold on the book world. Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, and Random House. Well, as you likely already know, in 2013 Penguin and Random House completed a merger that combined two of the world’s largest publishers. This was done out of necessity, for both publishers, due in part to Amazon’s major role in the the book market.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves because I haven’t read anything recently about any more major mergers happening soon.

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E-Book

The little guy who has turned the publishing world on its head. The advantages of e-books are numerous and can’t be denied. A digital version of a book is cheaper than a printed version. There’s no paper or ink or printing or anything but a file to be downloaded. A single e-reader or tablet can hold thousands of books without ever needing to give any away to make more room on the shelf. Reading on a device is often more suitable to the eyes than reading straight from paper. (Just think of reading something on your phone in your room at midnight versus reading off of paper) Lastly, everything you can think to do in a printed book like take notes or highlight or save your page can now be done on just about every e-reader or tablet that allows you to read e-books. Let’s face it, a huge percentage of the American population has access to a device on which e-books can be read. I mean, who doesn’t have a PC, Mac, Kindle, iPad, iPhone, Nook, Kobo, Galaxy Note, or Galaxy S? We all do, which means we all have access to the cheaper version of the exact same books available at your local bookstore or online.

Where do I Fall?

After examining printed books versus e-books the conclusion may be clear to some, if not most people. And it is for me. I’m willing to pay whatever the difference is between the digital and printed formats. Why? Because a printed book is a physical object that I can forever admire on my shelf. I can’t admire a file on a smartphone or tablet. I personally have more than 160 printed books and less than 20 on my Kindle. NOTE: I did not buy my Kindle, it was given to me as a gift.

I’m Team Printed Books, what about you? Tell me in the comments!

By the way, this is on my left forearm. I HAVE to be all for printed books.

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