Monday, December 15, 2008

The interesting state of publisihing

Since the very first ebook was released, there seems to have been a line drawn in the sand between print and digital. "What always was should always be." As the ebook industry continued to grow, the print industry continued to find fault with it. Dimionish it. Denegrate it. Longtime print authors were even unkind enough to say that ebook authors aren't "real" authors. Do they really believe this or are they just worried about a new phase of the industry generating its own reader base and cutting into royalties? Rather than join'em, they've choen to fight 'em. But life is full of interesting twists and turns.

Wednesday, December 3, Publisher's Weekly published the following:

“Black Wednesday” for PublishingDecember 3, 2008, was a grim day for a number of New York publishing houses as jobs were cut, lines realigned, and pay raises frozen.
Simon and Schuster cut 35 positions from all areas of the company. The eliminations were “an unavoidable acknowledgment of the current bookselling marketplace,” according to Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy.
Random House announced a restructuring of the company, which will consolidate several publishing groups. The Random House Publishing Group will expand to include: Bantam Dell Publishing Group, The Dial Press, and Spiegel & Grau. The Crown Publishing Group will expand to include: Broadway, Doubleday Religion, WaterBrook Multnomah, and Doubleday Business. According to Chairman Markus Dohle, the Random House Publishing Group, Ballantine, Bantam Dell and Random House will continue to have separate editorial departments. “The newly formed publishing groups will continue to bid independently in auctions. Each group will have my full support to publish autonomously, promote aggressively, and strive for more competitive advantages in the marketplace.” (
Thomas Nelson cut 54 positions (10 percent of its workforce), its second round of reductions in 2008.
Penguin Group Chairman and CEO John Makinson told employees that the company will not give pay raises to anyone earning $50,000 or more (or the equivalent in another currency) in the new year. He also said, “I cannot of course guarantee that there will be no job losses in Penguin in 2009. In this financial climate that would be plain foolhardy.”

And in this morning's "Shelf Awareness," an enewsletter about the publishing industry, the
following information appeared:

October Sales: Booksellers Slip, Publishers Fall
Publishers' net book sales fell 20.1% to $644.5 million in October, as reported by 80 publishers to the Association of American Publishers. Sales for the year through October were down 3.4% to $8.362 billion.

During this same period E-book sales rose 73% to $5.2 million.

While the total number may be smaller, the growth is astronomical in a short period of time. To what should we attribute it?
1. Cost-ebooks are less expensive
2. Immediacy-buy the book and you have it to read in just minutes
3. Availability-since a finite number is not printed your book can sell and sell and sell
4. The electronic age-with each generation there is mnore and more adaptation to electronics. Rumors have it that the next generation of iPods will also be ereaders.

So what do you think? Are we in the forefront of a movement that will change the face of publishing forever? I think so. Leave me your comments.

Oh, and b y the way. One lucky person's name will be drawn from the comments for a choice of either Scent of Danger by Judith Rochelle or Hot Wicked and Wild by Desiree Holt.


Anne Sorgeson said...

That is very interesting! I like a good paperback in my hands but I will read an e-book as well. lol


angie said...

i love ebooks because i can read them with the help of my reading programme

Laura Loo said...

I love e-books because of the cost and also I can take a bunch of them with me on my Kindle and my Kindle takes up the same amount of space as one trade paperback.

Toni Anderson said...

Very interesting Judith.

Emma Sanders said...

Very interesting indeed, Judith. I'm still not as digital as many of the young people growing up today and would have never foreseen the rapid growth in all things digital. (I still don't have an ereader! Gasp!) I see a huge growth in ebooks and believe (and hope) this will help more and more of the younger generation to read. It can't grow fast enough for me. :)))

anny cook said...

E-books... Interesting. While I do not foresee an immediate future where all books are e-books, I do see a future where the publishing industry is vastly different... where bookstores are small kiosks that are simply a place to download e-books or order your print books for delivery to your home. I see a time when the entire bookstore is on a computer where you browse until you find what you want... where those individuals without a computer in their homes can browse at the "store".

I also see a future when school books--secondary schools and college are on digital readers and heavy print books are no longer sold.

Diana Castilleja said...

"Black Wedensday" was a huge strike to publishing in general. I think it's more a sign that people are finally recognizing Epublishing as a viable source of reading material.

I do have a PDA I read on, and I'm looking to upgrade to a reader, but I love books I can "feel" too. The thing is, the bottom line is I love to read, the format to me isn't that much of a challenge.

If you think October was bad, watch, 2009. Little and big, things are going to happen in the next year. Some of them have already happened and the repurcussions or benefits are yet to be seen.

annalisa said...

I think that sales of ebooks will continue to rise and that the number of print books will decrease due to the cost of publishing them. There may come a time when most books will be available in digital format and you would have to special order a book in print format.

If the price of ereaders like the Kindle becomes more affordable, I think more people will switch to read ebooks.

Karin said...

Very interesting post. I definitely think the face of publishing is changing. Ebooks are becoming more popular thanks to the variety of ereaders now available. They're also a great option for people who are concerned about the natural resources necessary to publish print books. That said, though, I still love print books. There's just something about holding that book in my hands that an ereader won't be able to replace.

However, it seems that print books may slowly be heading the way of vinyls, cassettes, and other older forms of recorded music that have been replaced by CDs and music downloaded straight from the internet. They may eventually become obsolete, though their history is much longer than recorded music.

Mary Ricksen said...

I think ebooks are the future. And the sooner the big guys realize it the better off they will be.
No--wait let them sink, while we rise another 73% in sales up.

Cathy said...

I read more ebooks than print books, and love the cost and convenience of them.
I definitely think that the electronic formats are here to stay, and we will be seeing even more device selections and more and more ebook selections during the coming years.

Tess MacKall said...

Excellent post and a great way to encourage our authors here in e pub land.

Snobbery is what it's all about That and greed. Those are the two reasons we are looked down on.

Funny thing though, those big publishing houses all have e sales themselves now. Some even developing e formatted lines.

They use the internet for promotions and to kick start relationships with readers, yet, we're not authors? lol Green eyed monsters--the whole lot of them.

I hope that story on the Ipod works out to be true. We sure need an affordable and reliable reader on the market.

Clover Autrey said...

Cool article. It's like when the music industry tried to fight downloads. Now everybody owns an ipod or mp3. Can't stop technology. Doesn't anyone watch star trek with all their eReaders and holonovels?

Ciara Gold said...

I was a tradition paperback reader until last year when I finally bought my ebookwise. I love it. I can see why people are changing over. I still love the feel of a paperback book in my hand, but we have to consider the babies of today. They will be weened on electronic media. It stands to reason they will enjoy the electronic format more than traditional because it will be what they learned on. Yep, e-books are the wave of the future. But I hate to see the traditional market suffering this way. Kinda sad when you think about it.

Genella deGrey said...

I like both, too.
There are groups out there who do recognize us e-pubbed writers, though. These are the ones who, because of their open-mindedness, will rise to the top regardless of the economic situation.

Afton Locke said...

I think there's definitely a trend toward e-books. I've been a holdout, loving the feel of a book in my hand. But I'm running out of shelf space, and I just bought a Sony 505 reader and love it! (And since I just had an e-book published, I figured I'd better get with the times!)

As long as I can lie down when I read, I don't care what format it's in anymore. Adapting to new technology just requires a change in habit. I think if more people try out readers they'll really go for e-books.

After years of frustrating rejections from submitting novels to print publishers and now this big recession making it worse, I'm sticking with the big E. The royalties are better and there's more freedom to be creative.

Afton Locke
Unlock your darkest fantasies…
Cicada - Ellora's Cave - ISBN #9781419919411

Catherine Chernow said...

As always, you're right on the money, Judith.

As e-book authors, we're on the cutting edge of the next wave of publishing. I've heard people say, 'oh no one is going to read a book on the computer...'

I'm sure we've all heard a number of people say that.

But guess what? We are - all of - the entire world - we are already reading a whole heck of a lot on the computer, cell phone, etc. each and every day.

Soon, that's how we will read ALL books.

You're blog post hit me in my e-book home, Judith. I couldn't agree with you more!

: )

Catherine Chernow

ddurance said...

Absolutely! E-publishing is definitely the future and it's never looked brighter.


Mark Gladding said...

I've created a site called that allows authors to announce their ebooks for free and readers to subscribe via RSS - the only catch, all ebooks must be in DRM-free format.

During the last month I've been searching the internet for ebooks and have been amazed at how many wonderful ebooks I've found.

eBooks are definitely the publishing model of the future.

Joanna Prater/Joanna K. Moore said...

Judith, great post. I watch my daughter, a college student, and I notice that she NEVER reads paperbacks. She and her laptop are inseparable. All the reading she does is digital. She is the future.

Meanwhile, for me...I am still receiving checks for books that I wrote in 2005, that are published in ebook.

I think I'll leave it at that.


Jean Hart Stewart said...

E-books are definitely THE coming thing. I keep running into people who now respond differently when I say I write e-books. Just two years ago it was 'what's that?', now it's 'Oh I love my new e-book reader'. I think accessibility, instant gratification, and lower price account for most of it. I'm do proud of this industry....Jean

lrwirum said...

I would hate to see print books go by the way side. I think there is room for both. I know I read both ebooks & print ones. Sometimes it is just nice to hold the book in your hands. :-)