Saturday, February 12, 2011
Publishing, Perishing and Flourishing
Now that I've finally finished new Thorn novel, Dead Last, and also finished the book on bestsellers I've been working on for years, I'm going to be spending a bit more time updating the blog...between working and researching on the new book proposal (a secret project).
Here are some fairly gloomy numbers about publishing in general and the impact of ebooks.
But as my friend Otto Penzler likes to say, book people are like farmers. If they aren't complaining about too little rain, they're complaining about too much rain.
Maybe so, but this feels like a hundred year flood to me.
The upheaval in the music business which from my point of view started with Napster and evolved into the very successful business model of iTunes, might be a good predictor for what's happening with the book business. I'm not sure what the fall out has been for musicians with the migration from CDs to digital formats. Probably it's a mixed bag. Some musicians benefit, some don't.
The same already seems to be happening in the book business with certain writers capitalizing on the radical changes, and other writers being left behind. The whole world of ebook publishing has a Wild West feel to it these days. No one's exactly sure what the rules are and how to game this brand new system.
The writer as hustler, the writer as entrepreneur. Not exactly a new concept. Most writers have to keep one eye on the marketplace. Even Franzenesque writers who lock themselves away from the world do so at their own peril.
One of the things I like most about my Kindle is that I can read a free sample of a novel, two or three chapters. Like listening to a few bars of a song on iTunes. Actually, I find that three chapters gives me a lot more to go on than the ten or fifteen seconds of music on iTunes. I make fewer mistakes in choosing novels from the three chapter samples than I do with songs. There's lots of stuff on my iPod that I wind up deleting.
Here's a little bit on the Bestseller List and its importance to the book industry.
And here's a very interesting blog post on the new ebook bestseller list in the NYTimes.