Publishers. You’re STILL doing it wrong.

I know, I’ve written several times (Here and here) about the publishing industry, and how much they don’t get it.  This is another example of it.

The latest debacle (here and here and here if you want to read more) is between Simon and Schuster and Barnes and Noble.  Neither side is really talking, but the short of it is that B&N wants to pay S&S less money per book, and they want S&S to pay more money for prime in-store real estate.  And, to flex their muscle, Barnes and Noble ordered *significantly* fewer books from S&S.  B&N accounts for 20% of book sales in the US.

I’m a guy who doesn’t give a crap about a publishing house or a retailer.  The problem here is that S&S isn’t *really* hurt, and Barnes and Noble certainly isn’t hurt.  The person who is hurt by all this is the author who just signed a deal with Simon and Schuster, and probably won’t get another one, or won’t get very favorable terms next time, because the book didn’t sell.

I can just see the publisher throwing up his hands and saying “I don’t know why it didn’t sell.  Some books just don’t.”  Guess what he WON’T say?  He won’t say “well, we shipped 20% fewer books to B&N, that’s our fault.”  Because it’s not in their best interest to tell the truth.

Once again, Publishers screw authors, like it’s their job.  One of these days, they’ll understand.  Authors are your friends, authors are your life, authors are your bread and butter.  Without us, publishers don’t exist.  And that would be just fine with me.

Here’s the way it works now:

Writers provide content (product) to Publishers.

Publishers distribute that content to Distributors.

Distributors distribute books to Bookstores.

Bookstores distribute that content to Readers.

Here’s the way it SHOULD work.

Writers provide content (product) to Bookstores

Bookstores distribute that content to Readers

an on-demand printer

Espresso Book Machine

Tell me, why in 2013, we have publishers?  Why don’t the distributors hire some staff and buy a few presses?  In fact, why don’t Bookstores do that?  Why do bookstores full of pre-printed books exist when there are machines that can print an entire book in minutes, including cover and binding?

Instead of “trade” size (6″ x 9″) books could be resized down to 4.75″ x 8.5″, which is exactly the size of a standard 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper cut in half, which would allow the machine to capitalize on the massive market of standard printer paper out there.  Cheaper paper would lower the cost significantly.

Typically, in these machines today, an “average” length book can be printed for $7.   When we an get the cost for machine + printing down to $4, so the book store gets $2, the author gets $2, why would there be any more publishers? Why would there be publishers? Why would there be a distributor?


Publishers know this.  They’re aware that they’re dying.  Once again, publishers, if you want to survive, here’s what you need to do.

  • Be my partner. Tell me what people are reading.  Tell me what trends you’re seeing.
  • Tell people about my books.  Leverage your huge power to promote my book.
  • Facilitate the writing process.  Handle the editing.  Handle the cover.  Handle the details.  Set up signings.  Set up interviews.

If you’ll do those things for me, I’ll pay you part of MY money for MY books.  Otherwise, I don’t need you.  I’m already doing all of that and I’m publishing 5 books per year.  Imagine what we could do together!



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