Thursday, June 26, 2014

Publishing News: It’s a “Big Five” (Post-Script to 31 December 2012)

The proposed merger of Penguin and Random House was indeed completed last July, and the result is Penguin Random House (“the world’s first truly global trade book publishing company”).  Meanwhile, the rumored talks between HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster apparently continue. 

The new Big Five – including Hachette and Macmillan – publish approximately two-thirds of the titles released in the USA each year.  The ongoing trend of consolidation is not good for writers (or agents, for that matter), since the new conglomerates effectively forbid (or at least severely restrict) their imprints from bidding against one another.  Advances (for all save the Chosen Few “name” authors) are actually diminishing, as are the opportunities themselves.

Obviously some authors will gravitate toward “small” presses, though more and more will self-publish.  The latter trend, in turn, is a mixed blessing at best.  With so many more books, including e-books, published each year, the writer’s true talent will lie not with his/her skills at turning a phrase, but rather with the ability to “market” (presumably through publicity campaigns, social media networking, etc.). 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Is There Any Need For Comment?

Below is an excerpt from Val McDermid’s review of The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling), 18 June 2014:

Here are the self-published novelists and memoirists, gulled by creative-writing courses into thinking they're only rejected by traditional publishers because they're too talented, too challenging, too individual. Here are the editors, drunk and trepidatious; the agents, greedy and bullying; and the writers, driven alternately by ego and fear. Really, it's a miracle anything half-decent ever gets published at all.”

I think that touches a fair number of bases!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Whither e-books?

PricewaterhouseCoopers recently asserted that e-book sales will catch up with hard cover and paperback sales -- at least in the UK -- within the next four years.  The same source anticipated a substantial drop (more than 30%) for printed books during that same time period.

I suspect this prediction warrants an "unlikely" at best.  Digital book sales actually appear to have reached a plateau recently; the trend no longer points skyward.  Moreover, it is obvious that printed books are here to stay.  Nevertheless, the PWC prognostication is noteworthy, even if somewhat dubious.