Friday, January 14, 2011

Are E-books The "Next Big Thing"?

From all I can see, the book industry is dying. At present, there is a corrupt system which is clearly antagonistic to writers. The ingredients are the same as they have been for years.

First and foremost, publishers have lost interest in marketing and promotion. These are the writer's problem, and unless he/she is a recognizable "name," they may present insurmountable obstacles to garnering good sales. This, in turn, means that publishers won't even bother taking the chance -- that is, unless the writer can convince them ahead of time that sales are a "sure thing."

What are the results of this system? Access to publishers is now greatly restricted -- more so than ever before. Who can actually get published? Well, of course, the usual suspects: politicians (who often get payoffs, as money is laundered through the corrupt system!), celebrities (movie starts, radio talk show hosts, tv personalities, etc.), jocks (our demigods), and those few "recognized experts" (usually from the Harvard/Yale axis or their colleagues of comparable ilk, who are thus deemed to have sufficient "credibility" to analyze the economic, political, sociological, and other messes of the day; other than that, a few syndicated columnists). A far smaller group consists of established "names" (whose works have already proven successful). Then there are those who somehow break in for various reasons: (a) they know somebody, (b) they have vast amounts of money, or (c) they are the right age, ethnicity, gender, etc. Finally, there are the "lottery winners" -- those people (some with great talent; others with almost none) whom the publishers elect to make "superstars" for some unknown, perverse reason.

Because the e-books are so much cheaper to produce, and because so many younger people actually prefer their Kindles to hard copy, it is extremely likely that the stodgy old New York mafias may soon be losing more and more market share. I, for one, shall not be sorry to see them toppled, given the pathetic state into which the industry has sunk.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Lenny,

    I am a first-time author/illustrator. Been working on a book for nearly 5 years now, and have been trying to find an agent for several months. My friends have been saying, "Self-publish!" for a while, but I am reluctant to do that, not having the cash, for one, and as I am REALLY not a salesperson. Notwithstanding, I have checked out a few of the self-publishing sites, and have noticed a trend: the publishing companies themselves are establishing self-publishing arms! I guess this is a way to check out the potential of a book without the expense of actually publishing it themselves. I certainly understand why they would do this, considering the economy, but it is depressing, nonetheless.

    I have read a couple of your blog posts, and must say that I am fast reaching the same conclusion: unless you know someone, or have a "sure thing", or a lot of money to do the job yourself, your book, no matter how good it is, will never happen.

    Anyway, it appears that hope never dies, and I wonder–are you are still functioning as an agent?

    Laura Merrill


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