viernes, 16 de enero de 2015

Traditional publishing 2014

I read Kris article as it was published, but I wanted to read it with some more time, comment on it. Christmas has been busy.

I'm going to use her own numbered list as a guide.
  1. 1. Accidentally simultaneous So... NY was apparently confused that Scott Turow didn't have as loyal a following as Grisham.

    Excuse me... Scott who? I first heard of him thanks to the disaster that has become the Author's Guild. Now, granted, my best-seller reading was guided by my father, who bought translated and died four years ago. And it probably helps that his translated books are a chaotic mess (bad covers, many publishers...). Still, four movies against four-teen movies, two TV series and an extra pilot? Who was smoking what to fail to realize that they should have checked?

    But they couldn't collude! Indeed. But they could delay the books a couple of weeks once they realized what was happening. That would mean, however, reaction speed, and will. And getting the head out of the "business as usual around lobster" mindset.
  2. 2. What rise? I still have the feeling that publishers fail to realize how redundant they're becoming. Not useless, mind you, but they no longer have to compete among themselves, but with many thousands of small publishers and writers and services. They haven't seen that. Those that "have" (Kris mentions S&S in her latest post so far) are tightening their hold in their current stock... instead of trying to compete with better terms. In Kris older article, check Exploitable Content later on.
  3. 3. Oldspapers I've mostly stopped following newspapers. We're subscribed to a local paper, at home, which I read seldom and online. I used to be of those guys who tried to follow 3-4 newspapers when he had the time (not all that often) and read a beefy one daily.

    Then some jerks murdered several thousand people in New York... and news couldn't cope. I already had some other outlets, back then, but the even proved (at a moment that I was in uniform and needed a better information flow) that mainstream news were off. There were some other events, here at home, that proved to me that national news were to be avoided [*]. And they keep digging their grave, preaching to the choir. A choir that's getting smaller.

    So, basically, papers are done and gone as sources of news. They could be sources of analysis, of culture, of... many other things. But not in trimmed down supplements on type 9.
  4. 4. Magazines. See above

  5. 5. Blogs. I think blogs will review mainstream, once they realize that the old sources for reviews are done and over. For the rest, I think part of the "problem" is that, for a blogger, WMG Publishing is no different than S&S. It's not a paying customer, but a source of entertainment with an associated cost. Does it deliver? For a SF reader, what's the difference between Baen, McMillan, and WMG? Man, do the Big Five just positively, utterly hate to be on equal terms! And they don't know how to act with people who don't want to be part of the "elite".
  6. 6. Shelf space. And the huge increase of digital shelf space. Not so long ago, if I was at the airport I had several clone bookshops, with basically identical books. For all purposes, the combined catalogue was that of the biggest store. Imagine a magazine publisher whose ads (and articles) were the same in all that group's magazines, only some were shorter and had to leave some adds out. Those chain stores had more placement... of the exact same ad, time and again.

    These days before I board a plane I can check several bookshops, each of them with a basically infinite bookshelf and an algorism for suggestions that is, sadly, better than many bookstore employees. And I can buy it in place. And, if you're doing international, you don't end with spare change in something you don't need (and having to carry several pounds, if you're in for a long flight). It's not that we shop differently, is that we shop ("around") instead of being sold.

  7. 7. Algorisms. See above. Although I'm a weird critter. Those selling tactics usually annoy me. Stacks of Grisham? Who the fuck put that there! I almost tripped!! (And I consider bad form to kick books, even by accident). Also... if so many people buy it, I'll get it from someone... if it turns it's any good.
There are some very specific dates, in Spain, that are big bookpushers. Sure, they sell a lot of books to people who might not even read that book in the whole year. Basing your entire strategy on that kind of event seems a tad shortsighted. I might be wrong, of course, and they know their business like no one else, and it's a special snowflake of a business and they're doing as great as you can expect in this illiterate world.

That must be it, sure.

The thing goes on. How, at this stage, publishers haven't found a way to straddle the point between "the old book is selling like candy by a school!" and "it takes 90 days to get 1 million books into the stores" is something that amazes me. Do something smaller to bridge the gap, guys! Small, almost PoD runs. Then you can have the big run. Every time someone doesn't find a book you're risking a sale.

Take care.

[*] Again, I'd remind you that Spanish newspapers, by and large, are owned by the media and oligarchy establishment. One that was basically grown by dictatorship bootlickers.

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