Home » Big Publishing, Joe Konrath, The Business of Writing » Fisking Porter Anderson

Fisking Porter Anderson

24 May 2016

From Joe Konrath:

Porter’s nonsense in italics, my common-sense replies in bold.

“The biggest issue is one that will be difficult for us to recover from…the degradation of our worth as creatives.”

Joe sez: Our worth as creatives is dependent upon reaching readers. This meme is damned old I wrote about it back in 2010, The Value of Ebooks.

In that blog post I use real numbers to discuss author earnings, and came to this inescapable conclusion:

The value of an ebook is determined by the overall amount of money it earns, not the list price.

Obvious, right? But let’s forge ahead through this…

That line is from a piece here at Writer Unboxed a year ago, in May 2015. Our colleague Heather Webb, in As Writers, What Are We Worth?, was anticipating a groan heard ’round the world.

Last month, when I led a round-table discussion at Berlin’s Publishers’ Forum, our topic was “Re-Thinking Ebook Sales and Understanding the Consumers.” But what drew the biggest response was book pricing.

We’re in a world now that thinks it can write just as well as you can. It doesn’t need your book. It can write its own. It can publish it. And it can lowball it on Amazon.

Joe sez: This nefarious scheme is called “capitalism” and is evidence of something called a “free market”. 

Once upon a time, publishing wasn’t a free market. Not everyone with a book had an equal chance to reach readers. Amazon, and other ebook retailers, have democratized the process. Which means consumers now have more choices than every before. And many of those choices are priced according to the market, rather than according to the publishing cartel that controlled pricing with their quasi-monopoly.

. . . .

In the UK in January, Penguin Random House CEO Tom Weldon told my Bookseller colleague Benedicte Page: “”One of the biggest challenges in 2016 will be e-book pricing: how do we maintain the value perception of our quality content and maximize revenues across all formats for both authors and publishers?”

Joe sez: Allow me to translate: “How do we get people to pay more for ebooks, because if we drop them too low then consumers will buy the ebook rather than the paper book, and paper books are where we have the distribution oligopoly.”

A year later, Webb can see clearly now. Here’s what’s happening on a daily basis to authors’ work in the marketplace:

Heather Webb ‎@msheatherwebb – It’s awesome when people brag about how cheaply they got your novel for. NOT. They forget we make our living this way. AKA starvation diet

Joe sez: I’ll fix that quote so it makes sense. “It’s awesome when people brag about how cheaply they got your novel, because others will then seek it out and buy a copy. I wish every fan bragged about my cheap books.”

Perhaps, for some odd reason, Heather would rather sell a $14.99 ebook and earn $2.32 in royalties from her publisher (after her agent’s cut) than sell four books at $5.99 and earn $3.64. 

Just saw a study done with Lemurs. Even Lemurs know $3.64 is more than $2.32.

. . . .

With both the trade and the self-publishing sectors in rampant over-production as they are today, you’re facing a sheer rock face of competition for every glance your book might get, let alone a read, let alone a sale. Your price is in free-fall.

Joe sez: Porter, have you ever been in a bookstore? Notice how it’s filled with thousands of books? Do you glance at every single one before making a selection?

There have ALWAYS been other books. But now, for the first time, the cost is coming down so it isn’t prohibitive. Rather than $30 hardcovers, which is a luxury price, readers can get new titles for $4.99. And the $4.99 book is just as good as the $30 book. 

Or do you enjoy paying more for comparable products? If so, I’ve got some $40 per roll toilet paper I’ll sell you. It does the same thing as the $1 per roll toilet paper, but if you buy that cheap stuff my dignity will be in jeopardy. You don’t want me on a starvation diet, do you?

Link to the rest at Joe Konrath

Here’s a link to Joe Konrath’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Big Publishing, Joe Konrath, The Business of Writing

66 Comments to “Fisking Porter Anderson”

  1. Saw it yesterday, poor Anderson made himself far too easy to ‘fisk’.

  2. What mystifies me is the comments he’s gotten, most of them positive. This is such utter nonsense, and people are buying it.

    • Felix J. Torres

      Gatekeeping applies to comments, too.

    • Maybe he has a drawer full of sock-puppets …

    • Smart Debut Author

      The comments I laugh hardest at are from writers wishing indies would stop churning out their lousy crap, so the commenter’s own work of genius, which they are about to publish, has a chance to reach readers.

      I used to overthink this, Joe. And then it clicked for me:

      Most writers are simply children who never grow up. That’s a wonderful thing, when it comes to storytelling. But a child’s whiny sense of entitlement and utter lack of self-awareness? Yep, that’s usually part of the package, too…

      🙂

      • To expand that metaphor, publishers have traditionally treated authors like children.

        • Smart Debut Author

          At risk of sounding unsympathetic, that’s because writers allow themselves to be treated that way.

          Once upon a time, they had no choice… I get that. It was either put up with being treated unprofessionally by a coterie of then-necessary middlemen, or give up the dream.

          But that sorry state of affairs ended sometime around 2011, with the ascendance of viable indie publishing options–as you’ve explained so eloquently to writers time and time again.

          Publishers aren’t the problem anymore. It’s this chickens**t codependency exhibited by so many writers.

          -\_(o_O)_/-

          • Most of which are the ones used to being ‘protected’ from the real world by the publishers. There’s also a few that made hay while the sun shined, but KU2 and discover-ability issues have them wishing that some ‘gatekeeper’ will let them in while blocking the rest of the riffraff as the publishers of old could do.

            As somebody else likes to say, it’s time for them to pull up their big girl panties and deal with the fact that they are a mere drop in the ocean — though some drops seem to have a shine that attracts readers.

          • Publishers treated authors like any free market would treat a huge oversupply at prevailing prices. They lowered their bids for manuscripts, and demanded more for that low bid. In most markets, this would result in the departure of many producers from the market. That didn’t happen with authors. They kept the supply high.

            Like Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

            Now, indpendents are treating publishers like any low-cost producer in a free market treats the high-cost producer.

            Follow the money.

            • Smart Debut Author

              Readers are definitely following the money… to indie-published books. 🙂

            • Back in the day, my desire to please publishers was all consuming. They had what I desperately wanted. The only way to get it was to crack the code that made them happy, and then be a good little boy and kiss their butts, grateful for whatever I got.

              In 2009, when a viable alternative presented itself, I took a chance and went for it. And I haven’t looked back.

              But now that there is choice, things have become bizarre. I understand defending your corporate masters. I understand wanting the perceived legitimacy of a trad deal. I understand envy, and how a person can look down on someone else who “took the easy route”. I understand how commenters agree with blog posts without thinking too hard about what they’re agreeing too.

              I also understand Porter, who is singing for the group that hired him to do the songs they like. (And it must be getting increasingly harder to do so, if this is his best argument.)

              What I don’t understand is the willful ignorance. It is so ridiculously easy to have access to information. Writers who don’t read this blog, or Kboards, or AuthorEarnings, aren’t living in a vacuum. The facts are out there. Both hard data and anecdotal data abound. To still believe that low priced ebooks devalue the art is equivalent to putting your hands over your ears saying “nyaa nyaa I’m not listening!”.

              That’s more than just childish. It’s careericide.

              • For some, selection by those they consider elite has more value than a monthly wire transfer.

              • Felix J. Torres

                The willful ignorance may be a result of legacy thinking. If your only source of industry news and analysis is the traditional channels (NYT Book Review and columns, Publishers Weekly, book fair panels, your agent…) it will be easy to dismiss the ebook evolution as a fad that is peetering out.

                To take advantage of the information available online you first have to want information.

                Sue Grafton (“Trust the universe to take care of you”) at least admitted she hadn’t been keeping with developments at all when she walked back her statements about self-publishing. Her cocoon was nice and comfy and she had no reason to venture beyond. She only noticed thibgs had changed when she dished out dated advice and the pushback broke through the cocoon.

                Others proudly trumpet “facts” that aren’t, presenting their own experiences or prejudices as if they were universal because they simply can’t conceive that their enablers are misleading them.

                Not everybody is capable of accepting that their lifelong worldview can be wrong. That is why conspiracy theories are so alluring and why no amount of debunking will sway believers; it is easier to believe in villains and conspiracies than to accept the world has changed irrevocably.

                Of course, some actually do know better but don’t give a damn.
                (Shrug)

                • I don’t think it can all be dismissed as willful ignorance. There has been a deliberate effort coordinated for decades to tell writers that the only path to success was through the gates of the New York publishing establishment, even when that was simply not true. This was done through an unholy alliance between universities, big publishing executives, agents and literary publications.

                  Not everyone was in on the con, some people believed it. But plenty of people (particularly publishing executives) knew that it was bunk. They knew that there was virtually no chance that a writer without connections could make a living. They knew that novels would be thrown onto slush piles unread. They knew that having an MFA was worthless.

                  And the long history of self-publishing in print, going back to Mark Twain, was deliberately not taught. Underground presses were discouraged. Local presses were dismissed as unimportant. Small presses were bought up to stop competition or kept from being able to distribute. That bookstores simply sold shelf space to the highest bidder, and that most books were moved around and then pulped, wasn’t openingly talked about.

                  Add to that the myth that literary fiction was the only right path to succeed for anyone who took their craft seriously. Literary fiction long got more promotion and praise than it deserved by its popularity. Genre was deliberately forced into a ghetto, and discouraged as much as possible. And women writers, and other more diverse voices, were dismissed. Writer’s agents didn’t represent their clients, they represented the publishers.

                  The problem never was that there were too many writers and it isn’t now. The problem was that there were unified interests motivated to give writers misinformation about the way to succeed, so that gatekeepers retained more power and those selected darlings from the right social strata would have less competition and more chance to succeed.

                  Publishing for a long time has been less about making a profit and more about being a fun toy of the rich and powerful. What is happening now is that writers can get their information from other sources and have ways around the con.

                • The problem never was that there were too many writers and it isn’t now.

                  Many authors have said the inability of authors to earn what they want is a problem. This problem is direct result of the huge supply of books.

                  That long tail that was such a hot topic a few years back is real. The stock of books available at a click just keeps growing, and growing far faster than the demand for those books.

                  Individual authors can certainly make good money. We can observe that. But we can also observe that the whole set of authors cannot. It’s too big.

                  Consumers don’t want all the books at prices that would pay authors what they want. The demand isn’t there at those prices.

                  That may be a problem for authors, but it’s great for consumers.

                • Smart Debut Author

                  Terrence,

                  You bet it’s good for consumers. But it’s not as simple as just more supply vs same demand.

                  Here’s why:

                  US consumers spend around $15 billion a year on trade books. Retailers take about $6 billion of that, and pass on $9 billion to publishers. Authors currently get less than $2 billion of it, while middlemen keep the rest (or waste it on inefficient, outdated business practices).

                  So while consumer demand for books (measured in dollars) isn’t increasing, in an indie-dominated publishing world the economic efficiency of that spending is.

                  As publishers scramble to acquire each other to hide their diminishing market share, a growing percentage of that $9 billion is now coming directly to authors instead.

                  Picture it this way: in a world without traditional publishers, the same $9 billion in consumer book purchases would easily support five times as many authors.

                  While we never will get all the way there, that’s the direction the publishing industry is heading.

                  I think of it as economic streamlining. 🙂

                • Felix J. Torres

                  SDA: agreed, taking out middlemen is streamlining the industry. Books get to market faster and more often.

                  Plus: for decades now, the industry use of consumer spend has helped mask the fact that people have been buying less books. Reasons aplenty for the decline.
                  So far, the rise of Indies has led to people buying and *reading* more books, reversing that trend. That can hardly be bad.

                  So readers get more books, math savvy authors get more money.

                • Is Trade Book another term for novels? I don’t know. I’m not up on all the various terms and what market segment they represent. But, let’s say it is.

                  But, I disagree. Much of that revenue comes from paper, and paper needs distribution and retailers. Take them out of the picture, and paper stops flowing to the consumer. Publishers and retailers do a very good job at that. That takes a big chunk out of the revenue stream some see going to authors.

                  One might say that novelists can simply go to eBook. OK. They can. But eBook prices would fall even further if all novels were eBooks. Authors would compete with each other to provide value to consumers.

                  Consumers have no desire to spend $9 billion. They would act as they do with any good. They would buy the greatest value for the lowest price. Authors would rush to help them. Low priced authors would sell. High cost authors would perish.

                  Remember, without those publishers and retail, the carry-over from paper promotion to eBooks would no longer support many books.

                  Notice how independents price lower than traditionals? That’s competition. And consumers? They have no intention of paying $9 billion when they can get the same value for far less.

                  But, as a thought experiment, suppose revenue held at $9 billion and all today’s authors were happy. That situation would attract zillions of new entrants who would try to cash in. Lower prices would follow, and the increased number of authors would complain they didn’t make enough.

                • Felix J. Torres

                  “Trade books” is the industry’s way of saying “consumer books” without even thinking of readers.

                  It includes novels and poetry, biographies, cookbooks, travel books, self-help, memoirs and tell-alls, political fund-raising books, puzzle books, coloring books, and blank journals.

                  As you can see, content is optional.

                • Smart Debut Author

                  Is Trade Book another term for novels?

                  What Felix said.

                  The traditional-industry stats (AAP et al) distinguish between:

                  1) Textbook & Academic publishing (scientific research journals, etc.)

                  2) Trade publishing (fiction & nonfiction for general audiences)

                  Textbook and Academic publishing is a surprisingly huge chunk of the broader industry — around $10 billion/year in the US.

                  Trade publishing is about $15 billion/year in the US.

                  Most publishers tend to specialize in either one or the other (i.e. the Big Five are pretty much trade publishers, for the most part, whereas Elsevier, Springer, Wiley, et. al. are primarily Textbook & Academic publishers).

                  ETA: to make things even more confusing — 🙂 — “trade” also gets used (and misused) for the following:

                  1) the “Trade Paperback”, which is a print format — usually 6″ x 9″.
                  2) some of the most strident and ill-informed bozos at “Absolute Wrong” incorrectly insist that “traditional publishing” should instead be properly referred to as “trade publishing”

                • It looks like most of the discussion we see is from novelists. Anyone know aggregate US retail revenue for novels? I don’t.

                • Smart Debut Author

                  “Anyone know aggregate US retail revenue for novels?”

                  Terrence, fiction is almost exactly half of US trade publishing — i.e. ballpark $5 billion wholesale = $8-9 billion retail.

                • Felix J. Torres

                  I suspect the next Author Earnings report will tell us.
                  In the meantime, one could guesstimate from this:

                  http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bookselling/article/69138-the-hot-and-cold-book-categories-of-2015.html

                  I’d guess something in the $5-6B range, given that average non-fiction prices will be higher than fiction.

          • It was either put up with being treated unprofessionally by a coterie of then-necessary middlemen, or give up the dream.

            The same pattern is taking shape with KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited. The knee-jerk childishness of some of the writers who have boarded the KU train is incredible. Just last month, I got into a massive online brawl over at Mad Genius Club for challenging the OP’s assertion that Amazon is “the only game in town.”

            Which is not to say that everyone who buys into KU is childish or a dupe. In a similar way, not everyone who buys into traditional publishing is childish or a dupe. There are genres and books where it makes more sense to sign on with a publisher. It’s possible to fit a traditional publishing career into your overall strategy, just like it’s possible to fit KDP Select into your overall strategy. To each his/her own.

            But wow, the childishness of the knee-jerk advocates of KU is just astounding. It very much reminds me of the childishness of tradpub advocates.

      • You can see this when they use Patreon as they can’t make a decent living. Selling books is a business, so put your big boy/girl pants on and stop thinking you’re special.

  3. Joe, you’ve never been more hilarious!

    Fight-club follower? The insults come so easily to an elitist.

  4. Just going to copy my comment from Joe’s, because lazy.

    Maybe I’m just a bit petty, but these articles never fail to make me smile. It’s not the fisking per se, though they’re always a fun read. It’s knowing that I’m a small part of a bigger thing that causes people like this such aggravation.

    Then again, when the guy says something about his “beautiful books” being passed over, and that it costs thousands of dollars to “publish responsibly,” well, he’s just asking for it.

  5. ‘Heather Webb ‎@msheatherwebb – It’s awesome when people brag about how cheaply they got your novel for. NOT. They forget we make our living this way.’

    Who should an author blame when they are on a starving diet:

    1.Trad publishers
    2.Consumers
    3.Self publishers

    Trad publishers who are obese and cannibals. Consumers that can choose to read equivalent fiction for less and get fat buying extra groceries. Self publishers who are surviving in the survival of the fittest amazonian forest.

    Oh wait. option 4. 5.

    4. Blame self for writing bad book…its ok your next will be better if you survive until then.
    5. Blame self for giving my rights to trad publishers in exchange for crumbs, hoping the consumer will feed us both for the next 25 years

    • Barbara Morgenroth

      I’ve covered this before but it’s always good.
      I still “owe” Alpha Penguin $16,000 on a Complete Idiot’s Guide I did for them. I made nothing. I did everything they asked as per the contract. They did almost nothing per the contract–like not publishing the book on schedule thereby missing the peak interest in the topic. They promised to get the book into chain stores. Didn’t do that either.
      But I always have the lousy reviews of their work on my book at Amazon to keep me well-fed and happy!

  6. So, I posted in the comments over there but it is awaiting moderation. We’ll see if it makes it through the gatekeeper. I’m not holding my breath!

  7. I’m very excited to learn a new and useful word: to Fisk. Thank you!

    BTW, I appreciate both sides of this argument, mostly agreeing with Joe. I do want to note that, as he mentions re his career, many self-pubs have been traditionally published, too.

    So while there are some great never-before-published indies, it shows ignorance when anyone (and this crops up a lot in articles) implies that all self-pubs are somehow “rejects” who would chuck it all for a “real” publisher.

    Joe says it ain’t so, and I agree.

    • Smart Debut Author

      Jacqueline, there’s also a third category of indies: those who published indie first by choice and now routinely reject big-publisher offers that don’t promise enough.

      There’s a growing number of us out there.

      • And a fourth category: those who published indie first, then sell a couple of short stories a year to anthologies and/or magazines on the side.

        *raises hand*

        • Sharonmaasbooks

          Don’t forget the indie category “small digital publisher”, which is the one I chose, with no regrets. My publisher, Bookouture, is doing fantastically well. This month alone they had 15 books in the overall UK Top 100, and currently four books in the Top 6. Some of their top authors have given up their day jobs to write full time. They have somehow cracked the digital marketing code; the books do well. Their authors are happy, and making money! Their price is 1.99 GBP, sometimes .99p to start with.

  8. RE Terrence OBrien: “Many authors have said the inability of authors to earn what they want is a problem. This problem is direct result of the huge supply of books.”

    People don’t seem to understand that a large selection of books grows the audience. New writers bring in new readers. More writers bring in more readers. Many wannabe writers, like myself, buy far more books (by other writers) than I sell myself. I’m not competing with anyone with my silly books. I’m helping support other writers.

    If we want the market to grow, we need more writers and, yes, more competition. If writers, in mass, start to give up, there will be less choice for readers and less enthusiasm for the art form. This happens over an over again in various art forms, from folk music to opera to poetry. I remember when everyone I knew wanted to be a folk singer. Now days, not so much. And guess what, it’s harder to sell folk music. A lot of the people who used to listen to it dreamed of being singers.

    The hope is to be in advance of a rising market. So yes, it’s possible that a lot of writers did well in the early days of the Kindle revolution a few years ago because demand outstripped supply and there was less competition. Tons of new readers (and writers) were jumping into the exciting new market and some people were ahead of the curve. But no one who wants to make a living selling ebooks, should hope that the number of writers starts to shrink. That will be the first indication the market is also shrinking.

    Unfortunately, it is true that competition gets tougher. So the winners will win bigger, and it will be tougher for the losers. But the bigger the market, the more winners there will be. And the more mid-level winners there will be. Not everyone will get rich, but the more books there are, the more readers, the more sales, and the more chances for more writers to earn a living.

    Entertainment operates from completely different rules than simple commodities or products. Success expands the market. Choice expands the market. The market for ebooks could double or triple in the next couple decades. It won’t do that if people stop writing and readers don’t have a lot of choices.

    • People don’t seem to understand that a large selection of books grows the audience.

      Of course it does. The wider the scope of selection, the greater the probability of attracting any given consumer.

      That’s happening today. However, the rate of expansion of available books exceeds the rate of expansion of consumers. Both expand, but expansion of one beats the other.

      I’m not competing with anyone with my silly books.

      Any book available on the market competes with all other books available on the market. Some pairings are very strong competitors. Others are very weak.

      It doesn’t matter what the author thinks or wants. The author can be dead, and his book continues to compete.

      If we want the market to grow, we need more writers and, yes, more competition. If writers, in mass, start to give up, there will be less choice for readers and less enthusiasm for the art form.

      More writers probably will result in more consumers. But the rate of expansion determines its effect on prices.

      If writers give up in mass, the long tail they leave behind will still provide available books, and those books will continue to compete. But new entries to the market will decrease. That will be an upward pressure on prices. Also the decrease in new entries will result in more units sold for the remaining new books.

      And art forms? The book market behaves like the toaster market.

      But no one who wants to make a living selling ebooks, should hope that the number of writers starts to shrink.

      Of course they should. Cut supply and prices rise. The supply is so large, consumer growth lags supply growth, and it also lags supply drops. How about randomly getting rid of half the books in KU. Think the remaining authors will earn more or less?

      But the bigger the market, the more winners there will be.

      Correct. And the more losers there will be. Individual authors can always navigate an unfavorable market and succeed. In aggregate, they can’t.

      Entertainment operates from completely different rules than simple commodities or products. Success expands the market. Choice expands the market.

      Observcation shows it doesn’t. Success expanded the computer market, but consumer demand exceeded the supply expansion.

      The difference between book and other markets is that suppliers in other markets go do something else when they don’t succeed. Authors just keep increasing the supply at a greater rate than consumer expansion, and keep driving down prices and average author revenue.

      • You’re talking about a theoretical numbers game that has little to do with actual books, customers and history of entertainment. More corn production might mean a drop in price for a corn farmer. More and better books simply mean more readers for writers who jump into the market.

        There are more superhero movies being made than ever before, and vastly more money is being spent on superhero movies. The market has radically expanded. It’s been doubling and tripling. Less superhero movies will not mean more money for the makers of superhero movies.

        Nor will less superhero movies mean that more people will go to character driven indy films. In fact, if people stop making big box office superhero movies, it’s quite possible what little theatrical distribution for character driven indy films might disappear, because theaters aren’t making enough money to support multiplexes. There are little indy films that succeed simply because there are some empty theaters available between Avenger’s releases.

        I can write all the books about an alternative universe where Steve Jobs is a ninja (my novel Eve’s Hungry) and it will have zero effect on the sales of romance novels. It will not cost a single sale to anyone. Now, if suddenly it starts to do well, it might mean that other writers of alternative universe Steve Jobs ninja books (or writers that try to tackle that genre) might get work. But odds are, if many more writers follow my example, it will only improve sales of the original. The increased choices will not hurt my sales.

        And, it is even possible that if my novel is widely successful, it might even help, not hurt romance novels, simply if some geek who loves my book buys a Kindle, then upgrades it, and then the Kindle is passed on to his romance loving mom or something.

        Fifty Shades of Grey increased sales of S&M erotica. That’s a simple fact. Harry Potter expanded the YA market. Simple fact.

        It is also a fact, that when a single distributor manages to get a chokehold on a market and limits the choices of customers, they can gradually destroy that market. That is what many people believe happened to the comic book industry as a few distributors have limited the ability of indy comic book creators to get distribution. Comic book sales have steadily shrunk because they are all controlled basically by two companies and there is less choice.

        Broadway ticket sales fell steadily when theatrical productions became too arty in the late 60’s-70’s and audiences lost interest. When Disney jumped in with family friendly productions, the market expanded for everyone (even arty productions).

        If what you are saying is true, then the whole Kindle Worlds concept would be disastrous. The fact that anyone can write a Jack Daniels novel based on Konrath’s original stories, should mean that less people are buying his series, because there is tons of competition. But, in fact, all the spin offs help sales of the original series. This same principle applies to Zombie books, etc. The entire point of a genre is that more books that are similar in form help grow a passionate audience (if there is interest in the subject matter).

        Novels that fall below the 2 million sales ranking in Amazon have absolutely no effect on sales of other words in the top 100,000. None. My book of Macintosh cartoons (below 1,000,000) doesn’t stop Hugh Howey from selling his sci-fi. It doesn’t hurt sales of knitting books. It doesn’t hurt sales of books on how to writer books. It simply exists happily waiting for someone to check it out, who is interested in the very specific subject.

        As readers get more choice, it is quite likely they get more fussy, so marginal romance novels might be hurt by a flood of excellent romance novels. Specific writers (of not so good books) might suffer. Writers who also don’t understand how to market and present their books might not be as successful as writers who are good in those areas. And yes, some people will be able to game the business in various ways to get advantage. So, yes, there will be competition for that growing audience. There will be winners and losers.

        But cutting competition will not mean more success for the few that stay in the game. It’s far more likely it will mean a gradual decline that hurts everyone.

        You also completely ignore the issue that the casual self-publisher (like myself) not only buys more books than he sells but also helps to promote the industry to other readers. Not everyone is trying to get rich by self-publishing. Some of us are just having fun. And we’re not taking anyone’s cheese.

        • <iYou’re talking about a theoretical numbers game that has little to do with actual books, customers and history of entertainment.

          A big mistake book many people make is holding the idea that they are special, and normal economic forces don’t affect the book market. That’s just wrong.

          For example, note how price elasticity is being demonstrated by the publishers raising of eBook prices under their agency deals. They had told us books were so unique and special that those things don’t apply to them.

          Note how the drop in prices by independents has resulted in a substantial market share taken from the publishers.

          This is basic stuff, and neither books nor authors are so special they are not subject to these forces.

          More and better books simply mean more readers for writers who jump into the market.

          It can mean that. But the increase in consumer numbers depends on the current degree of market saturation. There is a point in any market where the diffusion of product is so great, there is no increase in sales without an increase in quality or a change. Audio books are an example.

          What reason do we have today to think peolpe cannot find something they like in the market? More of the same doesn’t mean people will buy more of the same.

          There are more superhero movies being made than ever before, and vastly more money is being spent on superhero movies. The market has radically expanded. It’s been doubling and tripling. Less superhero movies will not mean more money for the makers of superhero movies.

          And there are fewer westerns and mysteries. Market segments change, but the change in one segment hardly reeflects the whole market.

          But odds are, if many more writers follow my example, it will only improve sales of the original. The increased choices will not hurt my sales.

          In dealing with the whole market, no individual matters. There will always be individuals who can successfully navigate unfavorable market environments.

          Fifty Shades of Grey increased sales of S&M erotica. That’s a simple fact. Harry Potter expanded the YA market. Simple fact.

          Sure. There are always blockbusters. but they happen without increasing total supply.

          If what you are saying is true, then the whole Kindle Worlds concept would be disastrous.

          I can’t respond because I don’t know anything about Kindle Worlds.

          But cutting competition will not mean more success for the few that stay in the game.

          Note the constant carrier wave of whining about discoverability. That’s because there are so many books. Cut the number of books, and discoverability of the remaining increases.

          You also completely ignore the issue that the casual self-publisher (like myself) not only buys more books than he sells but also helps to promote the industry to other readers.

          The guy who writes no books buys more than he sells. We don’t need authors for that. We can all safely do it at home.

          • “This is basic stuff…”

            Yes, it’s very basic economic theory which has nothing to do with how authors can succeed in selling books or even how the overall ebook market operates. Newtons laws of gravity don’t say much about whether you will break a window if you throw a rock at it. The issues involving sales (and entertainment in particular) are much, much more complex than more books mean less sales for any specific author (or even a majority of authors). The entertainment industry knows very well, through proven economic history, that popular titles can radically expand the market for all titles.

            There is absolutely no evidence that more superhero movies meant less westerns and mysteries. Both of those genres were fading long before the superhero fad started (having been over played for many years). There is no connection. But there is plenty of evidence to suggest that a really popular new western, or update on the western genre, could lead to more westerns being made. A popular mystery could lead to a flood of new mysteries… without hurting sales of superhero movies. This is even true in feature distribution, where there are more physical limits on sales due to actual limits on seats and theaters.

            If you own a hamburger stand and someone opens another one across the street, it’s not certain your sales will go down. They might or they might go up. This is why restaurants tend to cluster together, they can actually help each other’s business. Whether or not your sales go up or down depends on a lot of other factors. How much foot traffic is in that area? Does the other burger stand have lower or higher prices? Do the burgers taste better, or worse? Does it offer onion rings, etc. These are the things that the guy trying to sell burgers needs to concentrate on. What he absolutely doesn’t need to concern himself with is how many burger stands are being built in America or the world (other than to vaguely understand if burgers are popular or not). The things effecting his sales will be much more locally defined. Thousands of new burger stands might go up around the world, but his sales will increase simply because the town he operates in is having a good economic year. Even if every other burger stand in the world closes, his sales might decrease simply because the factory in the town closes and customers start eating at home.

            Likewise, the issues facing any author trying to sell ebooks on Amazon and elsewhere are going to be specific details related to his genre and his customer base and various advertising and promotion issues. They are not going to be related in any significant way to the total number of books being published. (Except that more books are generally a good thing.) This was different in print sales. Yes, there are only so many shelves in an airport. Fewer titles mean better sales for the lucky ones that get that space. But even then, publishers are very aware that a careful balance has to be struck, because too few titles could lead to very little selling and can eventually lead to customers avoiding even looking through the remaining. The Amazon market place is even more complext. It grows self space to meet demand, and it does a uniquely good job at directing readers to the areas that interest them.

            Let’s try a thought experiment:

            Amazon lists 3,649 ebooks in the Steampunk category. The Dragon Blood Collection is listed as the #1 best seller, three books at .99 cents. Looks like a good deal. You seem to be arguing that if there were only 2,000 books in the Steampunk category, that book would sell even more. I think that’s rubbish. You could cut the the number of Steampunk books down to 1,000 and I don’t think that series would get any more sales. In fact, over time, I believe strongly that a smaller selection in the Steampunk catalogue would gradually lead to fewer and few sales, because readers would find too little to feed their tastes and would shift into a different genre. Moreover, I think it’s quite possible that that book will continue to sell as well, or better, if another 5,000 Steampunk titles get added. In fact, a large increase in titles probably would indicate a growing interest in the genre and almost surely lead to more overall sales and possibly more sales of that series. Anyone has studied the entertainment industry will know there have been similar patterns.

            Now, it’s quite possible that more titles and competition will mean that series won’t be #1 anymore. Something else might take it’s place. But, more significantly, there is eventually going to be some limit on the number of downloads that particular book has regardless. Eventually, the most of the existing customer base, who have any likelihood of getting it, will have got it. It is also possible, if that series isn’t as good as other series, it could decline as readers compare notes and suggest alternatives. That’s what completion is all about. So it matters if a book is good, has a good cover, is well promoted, etc. A lesser number of Steampunk novels will NOT automatically help any specific author.

            Now, if by magic, an author could wish away every Steampunk novel that is selling better than theirs, yes, I suppose that might magically improve the sales of a midrange title that was struggling to compete. (Though almost surely at the price of gradually losing the Steampunk audience.) But the converse isn’t true. If all the worse selling titles were to magically disappear, then it’s unlikely the midrange stuff would improve in relation to the higher sellers. A hoped for overall decline in the numbers of writers writing Steampunk is unlikely to help any midrange writer, there will continue to be competition above and below, and less writers simply means a shrinking genre.

            If you’re interested in selling more Steampunk books, not only is it inaccurate to think less books (from less writers) will mean more sales of your books, it is a destructive philosophy. It prevents you from understanding and responding to be bigger issues to help your sales. If you love writing Steampunk, you need to focus on growing the audience, and that means also growing the number of titles. Yes, it also means you have to up your game, and write better and better books and market them better and better. But it is more than a waste of time to wish less writers got into the genre, it’s counter productive.

            I spend the time on this because it really is counter productive for self-publishers to bemoan having to compete with a lot of other writers. Be careful what you wish for: if the ebook market really starts to tank, and sales really do start to drop, you will get your wish and less writers will publish less books. But there will be a lot less money on the table. Anyone who loves this industry should be hoping for it to grow. Also, writers who constantly complain about too many writers aren’t focusing on what they really need to do to solve their sales problem, examining the market as it is and figuring out how to compete. There’s no point in blaming the global implications of unlimited self-space, when the fact is you have a lousy cover and your first chapter needs a polish.

            You say, ““Sure. There are always blockbusters. but they happen without increasing total supply.” This is completely wrong. Anyone in the entertainment world knows that blockbusters absolutely increase total supply (sales, audience, etc.). This is an economic fact.

            If, again, one could magically wish that the Harry Potter series disappeared, that would not help sales of other YA writers. It would probably hurt them. Likewise, if the top 10 romance novelists got out of the business, it would not automatically help sales for other romance novelists, it could hurt them. And, a very popular new romance novel could absolutely increase sales of other writers works by expanding the reader base.

            This isn’t to say that the market always expands or that writers don’t have to worry about competition. If, say, a very popular mystery writer suddenly published their entire back catalog in ebooks for the first time, and priced them competitively, it could temporarily hurt other mystery writers sales as readers flocked to those books. However, long term it would probably help the reader base. Moreover, if the popular writer overpriced the books, it might help others in comparison. There are many complex factors involved in terms of what can effect individual sales. Sales of Zombie books could rise or fall based on the popularity of a TV series. But overall, a bigger market is better for most writers and a bigger market means more books and more choices.

            • Yes, it’s very basic economic theory which has nothing to do with how authors can succeed in selling books or even how the overall ebook market operates.

              Agree. The economic theory deals with the market, not individuals acting in the market. It accepts the actions of those individuals as part of the aggregate.

              For books, individuals navigate an unfavorable market. A small percentage figure out how do prosper. But the aggregate doesn’t.

              There is absolutely no evidence that more superhero movies meant less westerns and mysteries.

              Sure there is. Consumer tastes move from one thing to another over time. There used to be lots of cowboy movies, and few super hero movies. Super heros will fall to whatever the next trend is.

              If you own a hamburger stand and someone opens another one across the street, it’s not certain your sales will go down.

              I agree it isn’t certain. Perhaps they won’t, but experience shows us competition typically results in a sales loss for some other feed venue. Grocery store?

              You seem to be arguing that if there were only 2,000 books in the Steampunk category, that book would sell even more. I think that’s rubbish.

              I’m not arguing that, and I agree the idea is rubbish. I know nothing about SteamPunk. I am saying a supply decrease in novels would lead to higher sales for the remaining novels. That’s basic economics.

              I spend the time on this because it really is counter productive for self-publishers to bemoan having to compete with a lot of other writers.

              I spend time on it because recognizing the basic economic forces at work in a market is interesting. It also provides a sound foundation for operating in that market. Discussing these forces is not bemoaning. This same stuff happens over and over in all kinds of markets.

              You say, ““Sure. There are always blockbusters. but they happen without increasing total supply.” This is completely wrong. Anyone in the entertainment world knows that blockbusters absolutely increase total supply (sales, audience, etc.). This is an economic fact.

              Supply is a measure of what is available for sale. Sales are not supply.They represent consumption of that supply.

              EBooks are an interesting case since there is no marginal cost to producing another instance. So supply is measured in available titles.

              If, again, one could magically wish that the Harry Potter series disappeared, that would not help sales of other YA writers.

              That would be true only if all the people who would have read HP decided to read nothing. Or, we could say those who chose to read something else avoided YA for some reason.

              • “For books, individuals navigate an unfavorable market. A small percentage figure out how do prosper. But the aggregate doesn’t.”

                The digital revolution has made the market for fiction a much better business for any writer to enter than ever before. What percentage will “prosper?” It depends on individual writers definition of “prosper.” I think the majority of self-publishers are mostly interested in self expression (with vague hopes that they can win the lottery). If they are happy to simply publish and engage a limited audience, and hope for more, then they will prosper.

                Writers who expect to make a good living self-publishing (or immediately quit their day job) are most likely to be disappointed. But that is true for the vast majority of people who enter any self-employed/freelance business. It is very hard to create a startup and to run your own business. Most people fail because they simply don’t have enough capital, and many fail because it is simply too much work. Others fail because they don’t understand the business they are entering and how to compete.

                The problem is not that the market forces are against writers, but that some writers enter self-publishing with a hobby mentality, and then get upset that they aren’t making a living at it. It’s rare for people to make money from a hobby. Creating popular entertainment is a particularly competitive arena.

                All this talk about a problem with “discovery” because of “too many wirters” comes from people who don’t have realistic expectations about how difficult is to sell ANYTHING. Selling stuff is hard. Selling lots of stuff is harder. Selling ebooks isn’t particularly harder than selling T-Shirts or burgers or many other things. (In fact, they are easier in a lot of ways.) But some people just assume that their book should automatically sell, or think they would sell if people had less choices. Business doesn’t work that way.

                “Consumer tastes move from one thing to another over time. There used to be lots of cowboy movies, and few super hero movies. Superheros will fall to whatever the next trend is.”

                Now you’re arguing something completely different. Yes, trends are very important. Being on the upward curve of a new trend, in movies or in books, is far more important than the number of writers writing books. Writers concerned about selling books absolutely should look at trends and try to figure out how to respond. Fretting about “too many books” is a waste of time. Finding a hot new trend and writing for it, is one possible approach to success.

                But, you’re wrong that a trend in one genre automatically means that another genre must suffer. If Superhero films start to decline in popularity, there is no guarantee other types of films will do better. (Just as there is no guarantee that less books will mean more sales for those remaining.) And, the success of some other genre, say the popularity of the Fast and Furious series, doesn’t necessarily take away from the box office of Superhero films. The popularity of Melissa McCarthy vehicles has no impact on Superhero films, except that a healthy market generally lifts all boats.

                “… experience shows us competition typically results in a sales loss for some other feed venue. Grocery store?”

                Grocery sales are completely different from entertainment. Grocery sales are very unlikely to expand and contract anywhere near as much as entertainment. But, even in that very specific market, the opening of one grocery store across from another doesn’t always mean that sales will go down. It’s simply more complex than that.

                So your basic premise that more competition means less sales, just isn’t true. Competition is ONE factor that can effect sales. Pricing is another. Quality is another. Presentation is another. Marketing is another. The market for ebooks is sufficiently complex that for the average writer, the number of books they are competing against is not an issue. The issue is the quality of other books, the pricing, the genre, the trends, etc.

                And, again, the overall advantage for any individual writer is to be in a market that is large and growing, outweighs the potential benefits of a market that is contracting (which is what will happen if choices go down).

                “I am saying a supply decrease in novels would lead to higher sales for the remaining novels. That’s basic economics.”

                That’s not economics. Economics is a soft science. X + X doesn’t always equal XX. And certainly not in entertainment economics. Popular books create readers, popular writers can’t produce enough books for readers to read exclusively, therefore readers search for more authors. Therefore, popular writers create jobs for other writers. More writers means more chances of one writer breaking out and expanding the business for all writers. This has happened over and over and over again. Edgar Alan Poe created the mystery and provided jobs for all the writers that followed in his footsteps. He created and expanded the market. So did Edgar Rice Burroughs. So did Stephen King. So did J. K. Rowling. So has Hugh Howey.

                Fiction is in competition with other forms of entertainment. It needs as many writers and the best writers working in it to grown and prosper. There are many, many examples where entertainment choices get manipulated and limited by individuals who control a particular market. In almost every case, the market contracts as people have less choice. Less choice means less readers.

                “I spend time on it because recognizing the basic economic forces at work in a market is interesting. It also provides a sound foundation for operating in that market. Discussing these forces is not bemoaning. This same stuff happens over and over in all kinds of markets.”

                Agreed. But is is the clear sign of an amateur business person to assume that less competition is what will lead to their success. Many individuals attempt to enter markets where there is little completion, assuming they will succeed. Quickly they find out there is a very good reason there is no competition in that market. It’s a lousy business.

                Likewise, very smart business people often deliberately enter a very crowded market, if they know of a key way to make their product competitive. And frequently, a smart competitor will open up a new store directly across from competitor. And sometimes it even helps both businesses.

                The problem is that people who expect self-publishing to be profitable are not approaching it as a business, with all the ups and downs that come with any business. Particularly small self run businesses.

                Simplistic business theory of supply and demand don’t have meaning in regard to the larger issues around the creation of intellectual property. And the number of ebook titles available in North America have little to do with whether a specfiic writer can make a profit on a specific book with a Bookbub promotion or if permafree is a good marketing tool for them.

                “EBooks are an interesting case since there is no marginal cost to producing another instance. So supply is measured in available titles.”

                Ebooks are intellectual property. The value of intellectual property can be enormous. Thanks to self-publishing, the cost of producing it can be almost nothing. This is a very high margin business if managed correctly by people who have talent and are hard working and who approach it as a business.

                The value of The Harry Potter series has no connection to the number of competing ebooks being published. Harry Potter absolutely brought new readers into the YA market. That’s been very clearly established. (It’s huge success even forced the NYTimes to change their best seller chart so that it wouldn’t completely dominate it.) If Harry Potter disappeared there is no evidence that readers would simply buy other books. And there’s plenty of evidence that many readers would not have entered the market. The sales of Harry Potter are unique to that intellectual property, they are not sales that would have gone to someone else.

                A writer hoping to achieve success needs to look at a lot of things. The size of the audience for a particular type of story, the potential for franchising it, how similar it is to other works (which can be good or bad), how to reach that kind of fan base, etc.

                But its a distraction for anyone to think that they will have any better chance of achieving success if there is some kind of mythical market place where there happens to be lots of readers but only a few writers serving them. Popular markets have a lot of competition. Markets without competition don’t generate a lot of money.

                More importantly, fretting about the “problem of discovery” becomes an excuse for writers to not face the hard business realities that they need to overcome if they are serious about achieving success.

                One specific example: How does a writer decide is there a payoff in spending the money to hire someone to create an audio book?

                Completion in audio books is growing. But so are sales. This is a fast growing side of the ebook business. How do you make a decision whether to make that investment?

                There are lots of things to factor in. Cost, advice from other writers on their success and failure, whether your book is in a popular genre for audio books, whether your book is part of a popular trend in that genre, what’s the potential for a film deal for your book, etc, is the book part of a series, etc.

                Factoring in a lot of those issues might mean that it would be a smart move to finance an audio book based on a short thriller novel that would make a perfect movie and could be first in a series. But it might not make sense to spend money on a long history of economic theory.

                The one thing that would not be of much use to think about, is the number of audio books available on Amazon. Other than more is probably good.

                Yet you (and lots of other writers bring this meme up too) seem to think that “economics” means that the availability of more audio books means your audio book will have less success. It’s just not that simple. In most cases the opposite is true. More audio books means a bigger market to compete in and possibly achieve success.

                More ebooks mean more ebook sales and more potential for those approaching it as a business to prosper.

                That’s real economics.

                • Markets without competition don’t generate a lot of money.

                  Markets without competition are often monopolies. They make a fortune if unchecked.

                  Yet you (and lots of other writers bring this meme up too) seem to think that “economics” means that the availability of more audio books means your audio book will have less success.

                  I don’t think that. It’s wrong. In a saturated market sales can be increased by introducing a better product. That is exactly what audio books are. They offer a dramatic change in the product.

                  The increased sales may or may not be seen by any individual book. It doesn’t matter. The idea applies to the market, not some specific author.

                  More ebooks mean more ebook sales and more potential for those approaching it as a business to prosper.

                  That’s real economics.

                  Real economics looks at the increae in supply vs the increase in demand. One can say an increase in supply will attract more consumers. But if the increase in supply is greater than the increase in consumers, then the average suppliers makes less money.

                  It doesn’t matter what writers think or feel. Real economics doesn’t care.

  9. I’ve been looking at micro-econ and macro economics in some depth [because grands are studying same in college at the moment] and it is interesting, and logical and based in knowing the facts, all of them, in order to make solid, not fatuous or ‘holey’ analyses and to plan r&d, new lines, losses, charge offs and predictions on both small and large/ huge scales.

    One of the most frustrating things to some, including me, is not having all the facts about book publishing whether from trad or digi distribs like amz and others so that logical insights have a solid basis instead of lots of guesses.

    Felix and other people here at TPV seem to have far stronger grasp of economics and the direct mathematical logic and strategies of such, than the general public writer or not, including myself.

    I sometimes think the future of indie is not to attempt to follow the path any individual has taken, but to mine the ways and means that the big distribs themselves make hay, and do so, in scale, if an indie can. Felix spoke about that at length here a couple weeks ago, explaining how amz makes about half their money, which has nothing to do with books. I think it behooves many of us to look at amz many strategies both inside and outside their own shell– as a massive leader who has a vast [and quickly changing and even experimental viewpoint it seems, not a small one.

    I dont know the future, know the present and past, but dont want to keep revisiting it over and over. I want to try to see the future, and enjoin it, by studying what the big corp movers and shakers are doing, meaning positioning ourselves [in scale] to act now.

    Just re ‘saving others.’ With regard to others who still wish to be part of big pub, I say, let them live their lives as they see fit. There are so many people in our world; They are sovereign over their own lives as a basic right. In the USA our culture is made of many, not just two points of view. One of the great things about TPV that just does not exist elsewhere on blogs, is the plethora of voices, not just two sides. Or one. But, many sides. For consideration.

    Just as we see people choosing to wreck their bodies with addictions/drink/drugs/other substance risks in food and smoking, sexual contact, to health– one can inform numerous times, but cannot likely change people’s minds so inclined to at all. Ask any MD about compliance in patients who are on the average seen 15 minutes 1x year or 2x year, who year after year still gaining weight, overtaxing the body, and have will but do not act. As they say in Bill W’s club, the person themselves may come to the bottom, and then… and only then, see a new way. In the meantime, words are not enough to warn many people away from peril. And there are as many reasons each person goes toward the cliff as there are people running blindly toward a cliff.

    Since forever, ‘missionaries’ go to live amongst those they hope to convert, they dont throw ‘holy books’ at them lol. Nor do ‘modern missionaries’ go debate people. They are not reactive to what others ‘believe.’ They have learned to try to show a better way to their minds, and often bring food, medical supplies, other things needed or useful that the persons do not have themselves. Ever in the spirit of genuine friendship.

    I learn more here at TPV about the factual aspects of what the techtonic plates of ALL kinds of publishing are doing, what works, what doesnt, from the articles, but really, often from the commenters. PG has a stable of fast runners. That’s for sure.

  10. To Joe’s point about the willful ignorance, all I have to say is that Joe and others can spread their ideas on the internet. Some folks will read them and dismiss it all right away because it challenges their worldview. Some folks will have a shallow understanding of the ideas, but will balk at the hard work it requires. Others will be distracted by the latest new shiny. But some will read, take it all to heart, and make careers out of it, creating both economic and story-telling success. Not everyone will have the success Joe has had and a few will have even more success. But the ROI comes from all of those who take it to heart. Where I come from we call that the “good soil”, but apply whatever metaphor you want.

  11. I like Porter. He was very welcoming to indie writers when he did the #futurechats on Twitter, even if he did seem to think they were alien beings at first.

    The thing to remember about Porter Anderson, though, is that he writes for a publication called “The Bookseller.” Booksellers are the ones most disrupted by the ebook revolution, and they are the ones with the most vested in the continuance of paper and the status quo.

    Unlike publishers, booksellers don’t have many good options in dealing with the shift to ebooks. And even if they accept that the world is changing, their niche is still paper books and traditional publishing.

    So keep that in mind when you read anything by Anderson, or the comments in his threads.

    • “The thing to remember about Porter Anderson, though, is that he writes for a publication called “The Bookseller.”

      You’re about 6 months behind the times.

      Porter now runs Publishing Perspectives.

    • Smart Debut Author

      I’ve met Porter, too — he’s a nice guy but as Camilla said, he definitely knows which side his bread is buttered on.

      Here’s everything you need to know about Porter, from his own website’s for-pay “Services” section, where he offers his traditional sponsors a package that includes:

      “The Staged Interview conference session. This is a dialog between the journalist and a newsmaker held live before the audience and designed to introduce the newsmaker’s key talking points…”

      Emphasis on “Staged”, natch. 😉

      • Felix J. Torres

        “INTRODUCE THE NEWSMAKER’S KEY TALKING POINTS” = propaganda.

        A true reporter might “discuss” or “examine”, the talking points. A paid… presenter… will set the stage for unchallenged spin.

        At least he is open about what his job is: propagandist.

        • Smart Debut Author

          When it comes to publishing industry propaganda disguised as “journalism”, he’s in good company. At least he’s got enough integrity to own up to it; The New York Times certainly doesn’t. 😉

    • I like Porter, too. And Jane Friedman. Shatzkin seems avuncular, even. They’re all articulate, and they all seem to care deeply about what they write about. Heck, that’s why I asked, the other day, if they realize they’re being jerks when they take broad strokes at indie authors, or they just don’t realize it and don’t know any better. (Their frequent “Indie authors are the ones who got rejected by ‘real’ publishing” intimations.)

      The problem is that the publishing industry continued to evolve past 2012, and they can’t seem to. Oh, they evolved with the corporate publishing industry, for sure; if I want to know about anything the corporations are doing, or the big retail entities, they’re still most likely reliable sources.

      But the publishing industry has evolved beyond corporations, and they can’t seem to get a handle on that. It shows every time any of them post anything like the one that prompted this discussion.

      The problem is that this discussion is taking place among a population of better informed authors and readers — and not all authors and readers are.

      I think we’re getting there, though. There’s been an undeniable shift with regard to reading and books and publishing, and the coverage of that shift is starting to catch up.

      • Felix J. Torres

        Part of the problem is the discussion is *only* taking place among the alert and informed.

        The other part is that, unfortunately, the lack of valid facts doesn’t stop the uninformed from “authoritatively” shooting off their mouths and dispensing misinformation.

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