From Shelf Awareness:
During a keynote address at last week’s Publishing Business Conference & Expo, held in New York City, Marcus Leaver, the outgoing president of Sterling Publishing, offered what he described as some “common-sense prescriptions” for book publishers. “We must offer consumers an amazing value for their dollars,” Leaver said, arguing for a shift in emphasis on quality over quantity. “The world does not need another book,” he added. “We’re still publishing far too many.”
Leaver went on to predict the rise of niche publishers who would confront the problem of discoverability by marketing their books to readers, not to the publishing and bookselling industries, and who would recruit authors to take an even greater part in that marketing process. “Our biggest challenge will not be e-books,” he predicted, “but in proving that publishers will continue to be necessary.” He proposed that bundling print and digital editions as a joint purchase would become a necessary option, one that would offer consumers greater choice in how they want to read.
Link to the rest at Shelf Awareness
Why is it that every publishing executive who speaks about the necessity of publishers manages to generate so few compelling arguments in support of the proposition?
On an IQ test basis, these are not stupid people, but they sound like they’ve spent the last few years on Mars.
Does Marcus really think readers want fewer books to choose from? Is he ignorant of the explosion of titles, particularly successful indie titles on, for example, the scifi list of Amazon bestsellers?
This bundling of print and digital editions as a joint purchase — how does that work unless the purchase takes place on Amazon? It’s much less convenient to purchase such bundles in a physical bookstore than it is online.
Whenever Passive Guy reads things like, “recruit authors to take an even greater part in that marketing process,” he hears publisherspeak for “use free labor.”
PG thought publishers were supposed to provide great marketing as part of their indispensable services. Authors who are really good at marketing their own books are headed to indieworld where none of the proceeds of their book sales go to pay the salaries of guys like Marcus.
And more comments on this speech from author Amanda S. Green:
After all, he also said, “The world does not need another book . . . We’re still publishing far too many.” Now, if he is including all the small press and self-published e-books, he may have a point. But if all he is talking about are mainstream publishers who are trying to make the transition from purely print to a print-digital format, I have to disagree. I don’t think too many books are being published. What I think is that there are too many books pushing the “correct” way to think and too many poor clones of the latest trend book. We went through that with Harry Potter and Twilight and we’ll soon be going through it with The Hunger Games. And can any of us forget all the Dan Brown-lite books that came out after The Da Vinci Code?
. . . .
When talking about book marketing,Leaver said that “book publishers should ‘go to where the audience is’ and no longer rely on mass-marketing like book publicity. Book marketing should also be ‘ubiquitous’ and rely more heavily on author participation.”
Wait a minute. I don’t recall much being done in the way of publicity for any book except those framed as best sellers or as the “newest, bestest thing”. When is the last time a solid mid-lister had any sort of real PR push for a new release? And, honestly, if authors were asked to provide even more marketing participation, when would they have time to write? As I said, this has me scratching my head.
And then I read further. Mid-listers, I warn you now. This is scary stuff and it explains so much. According to Leaver, “[t]he mid-list, however, is ‘toast’ . . . because mid-list books aren’t either beautiful and essential or workmanlike and utilitarian. Books that are neither of these things shouldn’t exist.” In other words, if you aren’t a best seller or don’t have a huge back list you are willing to let a publisher have, you are now worthless.
. . . .
Mid-listers are the backbone of publishing and have been for years. Mid-listers have been the one constant publishers could rely upon for sales. They could always predict X-number of sales. Mid-listers aren’t the risk that so-called best sellers are. Remember, best sellers are based on pre-orders which, in turn, come from the push at such events like BEA. You remember BEA, the event Leaver said should be thrown open to the public. How many of these so-called best sellers never came close to earning out their six or seven or eight digit advances?
Link to the rest at MadGeniusClub and thanks to Sarah for the tip.