Rethinking and Book Wars

PG wishes he could say that he carefully positioned the prior two posts, Three Crucial Changes to the Book Publishing Industry and Dohle and Grant ‘Rethink’ the Book Business.

He didn’t. He just happened to read one shortly after the other last night and posted them when he had a bit of time today.

For PG, the Book Wars excerpt didn’t include much news or original insight. Regarding the OP comment, “commercially successful indie authors still represent a tiny fraction of the total,” the OP doesn’t mention that commercially successful traditionally-published authors also represent a tiny fraction of the total.

Additionally, PG doesn’t think that traditional publishing has shown any real signs of becoming more reader-centric. Look at the comments made by Dohle. Perhaps PG missed something, but Dohle’s remarks seemed to be exclusively focused on the industry and sounded like rehashed statements in corporatespeak that could have been made by any other publishing executive during the last thirty years.

“The Key Performance Indicators of this industry are all going in the right direction.”

PG will note that he first learned about and used Key Performance Indicators well over thirty years ago. Tailfins and flashy chrome hood ornaments are also going to be the big news coming out of Detroit this year.

9 thoughts on “Rethinking and Book Wars”

  1. Yeah, I think TradPub still doesn’t get it.

    If I had a huge library, I might like all paper books, but given my reality:
    — For fiction, e-book for most recent books, and paper (if it’s affordable) if I really like the book. I’m not buying >$10 e-books OR >$10 paper books (used books help a lot).
    — For non-fiction such as computer books, my favorite is both (paper & e-book), but if I have to pick one, then paper. However, once I buy a large (say 13″) e-paper reader that can handle Kindle, PDF (and can display illustrations decently), etc, then it’s likely I’ll shift to more e-book only.

    • I realized a while ago that, besides wishing for the huge library – I needed to add the maid to dust it to my wishful thinking. (Come to think of it, as I get somewhat more forgetful with age, I’d better staff it with an imaginary library aide while I’m indulging…)

  2. The whole “personal library” thing – I blame Belle. All that dancing and singing in the Beast’s library with the rolling ladder and the full length cases of books. That one scene has warped a generation.

  3. Go back 22 years and adjust the vocabulary to the management buzzwords of 1997-2000, and you’ll see precisely the same thing being bloviated regarding POD. A few more years, dry-process xerography and/or electronic typesetting (which, although different technical paths, occurred at about the same time). Color plate printing/lithography was similar. I can imagine the same damned article in central Europe in the 1470s, although it’s more likely that they would be theocracy buzzwords rather than managementspeak…

    tl;dr So, technological change is altering breakeven points and reducing master-level specialized training necessary to reproducing works in the arts. Again. And that will result in a revolution. Again. And the money will end up in the same pockets, in roughly the same proportions, again. Because that’s what mercantilist systems do.

  4. I commented on a Writer Unboxed post this morning which stated, “Given the difficulty of getting published,” and pointed out that, in my opinion, “On the contrary, getting published is, if anything, way too easy right now.”

    Anyone can publish almost anything on Amazon. By creating a pdf cover and a pdf file of the interior.

    This serves readers well, except that there is a perceived lack of ‘quality’ in many books thus published, and discoverability is hard when there are so many competitors in the market.

    As an industry, traditional publishing is whistling past graveyards, selling buggy whips on corners. But the indie ‘industry’ is vast, amorphous, uncoordinated, and not navigable.

    I hope something happens that organizes it, leads to awards in specifically indie categories for real money and prestige, and professionalizes our side a bit. The race to the bottom in pricing doesn’t suit most authors.

    • Money, yes. The lowered production costs and long tail pretty much ensure at least modest economic rewards (as in, more than rejection slips) for pretty much every minimaly competent author/publisher.
      That’s tbe good…no, great news.

      Prestige, no.
      (That’s the not so great news for tbose that care about it.)

      Too much dilution, too much specialization in *all* the creative formats, video, audio, text, gaming. Romance readers care beans about whatever happens to be popular in “tough guy action” stories this month and vice-versa. Ditto for mystery, SF, bios, etc. Each field is a silo.

      The price of abundance is readers can and will specialize.
      Prizes and prestige will only matter to those who give them and tbse who get them and a few followers.

      Simple test: do you know who won the 2020 Hugos? Or the Dragons?
      I don’t and SF is my prefered territory.
      (Ditto for the awards in other genres like litfic, history bio, or whatever.)
      Too much stuff that interests me to waste time tracking what a few hundred fans (and manipulators) think is worth reading. Or watching. Or playing.
      And I maybe weird but I’m not alone. Just look back to the “puppy wars” and how many people bothered to vote for the hugos when they were opened up to all interested parties: a few hundred, far less than the number of active authors earning a living in the field.

      Other award issuers have done a better job of maintaining the delusion of relevance but all you have to look at is the long term impact on sales of winning awards. Which is so minimal as to be unmeasurable; any boost that might come (and often doesn’t) is more likely from the added hype among the establishment types (for each field) than any prestige confered by the award.

      Go back a century or a decade; how many award winners of a given year are actively being read?
      Or are even remembered? Pulitzer winners? Nobels? Others? Time tends to put works into their proper perspective. A few endure but not necessarily the award winners.

      Its all about the market of abundance.
      Dilution is real but it’s not just about discovery.
      It’s also about impact and long term relevance.
      Dilution ensures a steady supply of finely tuned material to meet any taste and if that taste is satisfied why even care what happens elsewhere?
      We’re in an age of silos. People will find what they like and mine it for all its worth.
      The rest might as well not exist.

      • We’re in an age of silos. People will find what they like and mine it for all its worth.

        Yes, that is a feature, not a flaw.

        It is so encouraging that this time has come.

        In 2011, I was so focused on “threading the needle” to get past all of the gatekeepers, that I finally said “Stop”. Then I stumbled on what Amanda Hocking was doing simply because the NYTimes Magazine did a write up about her. If that had not happened I would never have stumbled across Indy publishing. Just as so many others still have no clue that Indy publishing is even possible.

        June 17, 2011

        That was ten years years ago. The irony of this article is profound. Publishers were so desperate to get into the game then, not so much now.

        Check her wiki page to see the book list.

        She’s now returning to Indy publishing.

        • Good, bad, or indifferent it is what it is.
          And what it is is the age of the Thousand True Fans.

          Amusingly, the concept has gained traction; there is both a book at Amazon and a website using it as a marketing hook.

          The core idea remains: focus on your audience and cultivate it. Don’t try to be all things to all people, just be yourself. You’ll find your market.

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