The Current State of Publishing and Bookselling, Part 3
Continuing my overview of what has happened in recent months.
Ebooks are as much a part of the publishing scene these days as paper books. Most genre publishers offer the ebook version at the same time as the paper book, and backlist is being converted to ebooks at an incredible rate.
Ebooks continue to be the primary route of distribution for smaller publishers.
Most of the major book distributors have their own ebook distribution system, and Amazon is using its ebook reader, the Kindle, to make it as much a leader in ebook distribution as paper book distribution.
Ebooks are the primary growth area right now for most publishers, but the so-called "tipping point" in their popularity hasn't been reached according to most pundits.
Used book sales are a profit hemorrhage in the publishing industry.
The publisher and the author make nothing on used books so the industry is being starved by used book sales. This is a particular hardship for authors who don't have as diversified a number of titles as the publisher does.
This means that the author makes little money, the publisher loses sales on that author, and the author is less likely to sell another book to that publisher.
In other words, the big publisher and name authors with lots of backlist like Nora Roberts are hurt by used book sales, but the smaller authors and small publishers can be killed because they lose more than they gain.
Publishing is like investing, the more diversified you are, the better the chance for survival and profit.
The Internet has made used books an even greater problem because so many books can be found used.
The old belief that a buyer will choose new after discovering a new author through a used book is less true because it is so easy to find a used book within hours or less of the book hitting the physical shelves. Some books, courtesy of book clubs and advanced review copies, can be found used weeks or months before they hit the shelves.
Tomorrow, I'll continue my overview by talking about Amazon's less than stellar behavior toward authors and publishers.