Calm Before the Storm

A helpful person sent me a link to Bernand Lunn's "Bits of Destruction Hit the Book Publishing Industry" Part One and Part Two, which envisions Google Search, e-books, and print on demand as three big waves crashing over the publishing industry.

I just have time to quote Lunn's predictions for authors, prior to returning to the waves myself...

"1. The end of advances. The irony is that the authors who really need advances, the new ones scraping by on Ramen noodles, cannot get them. Meanwhile authors who don't need them, the ones living the high life off of previous royalties or whatever made them famous enough to get an advance, are showered with ridiculous advances at the end of bidding wars between big publishers. Authors will write without advances. Unlike movies, books are relatively cheap to create. In the digitized world of e-books and print on demand, authors get paid as soon as someone buys the first copy. The lack of an advance will be compensated for by a bigger share of the revenue pie."

"2. Authors getting a bigger share of the pie. It makes no sense for authors to get only 10% in a digitized world. We expect this to grow from 10% to 30% or more. Digitization takes most of the costs out of the supply chain. So, unless an intermediary such as Amazon charges monopoly-like rents, authors will get a bigger share. Amazon has amazing power today and will squeeze everyone in the supply chain. But new competition will emerge (we'll look at this later), and keeping authors happy is critical to the success of publishers. Authors are like software developers, not powerful individually but incredibly powerful en masse (and just as ornery!). Authors will need a bigger share also because prices will be coming down. But the drop in price, coupled with globalization, will open up new markets in which to sell books and therefore generate more revenue. "

"3. Authors creating the finished product. Today, authors write and publishers look after the cover art and editing. If authors were to get 30% or more, they would have to take on these two other jobs. But in a world of desktop publishing tools and social networks to organize work and editing, this will not be hard."

"4. Online marketing replacing book tours. It is the bane of the author's life. The book tour is wonderful the first time: "Wow, I am a real author now." But this is not the same as musicians going on tour. Musicians are performing their job in its natural environment during live shows; not true of authors reflecting on their books on stage. There are many and much better ways to promote books online."

2 thoughts on “Calm Before the Storm”

  1. The other Olga

    I disagree about online marketing replacing book tours. The more readings I go to, the more valuable I find them, and, frankly, the more books I buy.
    My own evidence is anecdotal, of course; would be interesting to see statistics..

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