Following the first Digital Publishing Xmas Fair, which apparently sought to bring digital startups and the publishing industry closer together, McCrudden took exception to the wholesale promotion of “disruptive technologies,” arguing instead that publishing was being unbundled, with its various component disciplines being split off and transformed piecemeal. “The formerly established well-understood supply chain by which books were written, commissioned, created, printed, marketed and sold has been broken up, with its constituent parts now managed very differently.”
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One slightly brain-dead point to make is that we never before had an alternative standard of comparison with what the publishing industry actually published. There were no comparables to indicate what the publishign industry might be missing or getting wrong, because there was no alternative. The remainder book trade and the periodic unearthing of great forgotten or ignored authors gave some hints, but nothing conclusive. But now there is. And the result? Self-published works cram the Top 100 list on Amazon, never having seen a publisher – only Amazon, and readers.
“The editor and publisher’s value judgement and appetite to take risks is the integral part of the process that hasn’t yet been disrupted, automated or unbundled out of existence,” affirms McCrudden, reiterating those first two qualities for emphasis. Well doesn’t a self-published author risk more, personally, when they put out a book? Let alone spend any of their own money on editorial services, cover design, etc. Mainstream publishing is not an industry that has exactly been renowned for edgy risk-taking.
Or rather, it has in one specific and not very flattering area. Mainstream publishing has a record of getting things wrong – misjudging reader appetite in spades. Remainder book trade again, anyone? It’s been cossetted in this through arrangements that gave it peculiarly favorable arrangements on product return.
Link to the rest at TeleRead