Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Future of Publishing and eBooks

The publishing industry is in transformation with the eBook revolution changing the business model. The value of eBook publishing offers many positives to buck publishing industry trends -- one being the ridiculous book-return policies practiced by book distributors. Book distribution into the bookstores is a literal joke. The other day I got a bill for $2,000 from Baker and Taylor. I said I haven't even had $2,000 in royalties paid to me, why do I owe you this money? They replied that I had accepted an agreement to take all returns from all sources. Not understanding obviously what that had meant I became disgusted. How can any business make money under the weight of such nonsensical policies where I'm obligated to pay for books returned from any source. With no tracking on which books were returned, I couldn't even reconcile that information on the royalties.

Now I'm wondering how to revise the business model. Authors still expect bookstore distribution. The ability to make money with this model is virtually impossible. I've come to the point where I tell authors don't expect the bookstore distribution to pay off unless you become a household name. I've also placed restrictions on contracts that unless your book has an established sales track record there is no reason to even try the bookstore distribution route.

The future of publishing is in question. I am leaning toward almost exclusive eBook publishing to cut costs and increase profit margins. I know many people still prefer print, but the sales ratio speaks for itself. For every 1 print book I sell these days we have at least 9 eBook sales in comparison. This number continues to flux a bit with each book and its respective audience, but none the less it's not going the opposite direction.

I imagine that much like vinyl records, print books will become a novelty item in about 15 years. Once the print industry phases out more and more as the impact of eBooks is felt, the overall change on the economy of publishing will show itself. Printers whose high per book print price means net profits are barely worth the effort will find fewer clients interested in printing.

I don't know exactly where this resolve itself with my company, but an outcome is inevitable. And the benefit of zero storage requirements and reduced overhead in postage costs makes the eBook market even more promising than ever.

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