From The Digital Reader:
A couple weeks back I got on a tear about things Book People won’t say, including that B&N has been doomed by its senior and digital is killing print.
Today I would like to turn it around and share something that isn’t said enough in self-publishing circles.
There will always be book publishers.
It is axiomatic in certain circles that in 2017 that authors have all the power. Authors can hire they help they need and take their work direct to market, thus removing any need for a publisher.
While all of that is true, it does not automatically follow that book publishers are going the way of the dodo.
One detail that is often overlooked is that not all authors are equally imbued with the business skills – or the interest – required to publish their work and maximize revenues. There will always be some author who would rather focus on writing and hire someone else to do the packaging and selling.
. . . .
So yes, ten years from now we’re going to be able to point to something and call it a publisher. We’re probably going to even have many of the same names then as now – after all, there is value in a publishing brand – but that’s no guarantee that the future publishers will be the corporate descendants of the present publishers.
In the same way that the major publishers have killed themselves by ignoring ebooks, other publishers are rendering themselves irrelevant by refusing to adapt to the times.
Link to the rest at The Digital Reader
PG says Nate makes some good points.
A great many authors hire editors to help polish their manuscripts. A great many authors also hire cover designers and book/ebook formatting services.
Professional editors, designers, etc., tend to be service-oriented. If they don’t understand at the outset of their careers, they soon learn that, in addition to their skills at editing and design, they need to pay attention to their clients if they want to keep editing and designing.
Given the attitude of so many contemporary publishers toward authors, the question is whether employees or former employees will be capable of making the complete turnabout required to become service professionals. Some will, but PG suspects most won’t.
Additionally, a lot of the things publishers are good at won’t be necessary any more.
PG is not among those who believe that readers will always want printed books.
Due to his antiquity, PG remembers when serious music lovers were completely committed to their record collections, carefully preserving them and proudly showing pristine album covers to any who entered their listening abode. When CD’s were first introduced, serious listeners were aghast at the harsh quality of sound produced by early CD’s.
Of course, streaming music has even poorer sound quality than CD’s, but listeners seem to have adapted. Do major musicians release their music only on vinyl records? PG doesn’t follow that sort of thing, but he doubts they do.
PG is happy to have people listening to the sounds via the media they like best, but from a commercial standpoint, are any large music publishers staking their revenues on vinyl?
Some readers will continue to like printed books, but their numbers are already declining and will continue to do so.
One of the keys to low print prices are large print runs. 100,000 printed books cost much less on a per-book basis than 1,000 books. Mass production delivers the best prices when you can set up the machines and let them run for awhile.
Publishers are striving mightily to keep the prices of their ebooks close to the prices of their printed books, but that’s bound to be a failed strategy. For one thing, the accountants at the holding companies that own all major US publishers will complain about the wide divergence in profitability between ebooks and printed books.
Why would any sane business person spend a lot of money to print thousands of books that may never be sold, then pay storage and transportation costs for those books and finally pay someone to dispose of the unsold print books when, for almost nothing, the publisher can send a single electronic copy of an ebook to various vendors and watch deposits come into its bank accounts?
What reality-based business would not prioritize selling products with no production costs over selling products with high production costs?
What’s going to happen to Barnes & Noble?
Let’s answer a question with a question: What happened to Blockbuster Music, Camelot Music, Mediaplay, Music+, Musicland, Music Play, SamGoody, Tower Records, Virgin Megastores, Wherehouse Music, and a zillion other music chains?