Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Poetic Justice for Book Publishers

The book publishing industry, if you're unaware, is largely centered in New York. It may at one time had desired to seek out the best authors, provide the best books, and even have a nobler aim of contributing to the literary works of humanity, but now if you look at the profiles and bios of most of the people working in the publishing industry it's a bunch of spoiled brat suburb kids with connections, all with degrees in "Creative Writing" and "Philosophy." Like many other institutions in America is has decayed into a nepotistic, cronyistic, rent-seeking shell of its former self. And like all corrupted institutions it no longer serves its purpose.

It is useless.

So it is with a hearty laugh when I see a traditional publisher pout and stamp its feet when technology obsoletes their industry, allowing writers and readers to come to their own terms and prices, cutting out the publishers altogether. I'm specifically talking about Amazon.

Between Amazon's selling platform and it's self-publishing arm Createspace, the entire traditional publishing house industry just received a death sentence. Oh, it may be delayed or postponed, but those two little companies, combined with a dash of internet WILL wipe out the likes of Penguin, Simon and Schuster, Random House and all of their other "New York Publishing Echo Chamber" cousins. What's makes this better, though, is not that it's the technology that is solely to blame, but the arrogance, nepotism and elitism of the book publishing industry.

Like many people before, I had my first book shot down many times. So many times that I was more or less forced to self-publish because the point in time the housing market would crash was rapidly approaching and to avoid becoming a "Me Too" book, I had to get it out there to prove I knew it was going to happen before it did. It was an important lesson in that I realized I spent more time trying to find a publisher (or an agent, HA!) than I did writing the damn book. Adding insult to injury, my book was published in 2008. JUST 6 MONTHS AGO I RECEIVED A REJECTION LETTER FROM ONE OF THOSE PRECIOUS NY PUBLISHING HOUSES! In short, it wasn't that I was getting shot down that irked me (everybody gets shot down). It was realizing this was like applying to Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan. Didn't matter how good you were, you weren't from the right stock of family. You weren't from New York, you weren't "in the biz." And they were SO far from professional they would still send a rejection letter 4 years later after the book was inevitably published.

Why deal with these guys? The industry is dysfunctional.

And that is the whole point right there.

Understand if you are looking to publish, the single worst thing you can do is approach a traditional publisher. You will:

1. Waste more time on finding a publisher willing to accept your book than the time you spent writing it.

2. YOu will not get as favorable terms with them (about 5% commission) as you will online (35%-50% depending on how you structure it).

3. I can only imagine what the editorial process is and what kind of elitist snobs you'd have to deal with on the East Coast.

4. and with the demise of Border's Books (soon to be followed by Barnes and Noble!), you will face a dwindling market.

There's NO reason to go with a traditional publisher. If anything, write your own books and one may "pick you up," but I'd say in 20 years time, you won't even want to be picked up by one of them. If you are that popular and on their radar screen, you probably already have a decent following and therefore market to sell your book to.

But what is particularly precious about watching the publishing industry go down the toilet is the attitude within the industry. It's like watching an aging socialite who was used to being the center of attention being upstaged by a younger hotter socialite. Nobody is interested in her anymore, she's outdated and obsolete. But worse for the aged socialite, everybody remembers what an arrogant, condescending snob she used to be, and therefore have a personal interest in seeing her suffer.

But, like the aging socialite, what I particularly love about the publishing industry's attitude is how they're so arrogant, they're delusional. Borderline entitled. Randall White, EDC's CEO has a quote that says it all:

"Amazon is squeezing everyone out of business,” said Randall White, EDC’s chief executive. “I don’t like that. They’re a predator. We’re better off without them.”

No Randy, WE (the people who buy books) are better off without YOU. Amazon is merely a technological advance that, like the car wiping out horses, is wiping out you and the rest of your pompous, obsoleted asses. You bitching and whining about a technological advance lowering prices for everybody in the WORLD, thereby increasing their standards of living, just shows you'd rather stop general progress and advancement in the ENTIRE economy so you can keep your precious little job. ie- you're more important than everybody else in the world.

The article goes on to further prove the entitlement mentality (and it should be no shocker this comes from a New York Times writer):

*critics say* When traditional publishers, booksellers and wholesalers are destroyed, these opponents say, Amazon will be left with a monopoly that will be detrimental to the larger health of the culture.

Wait, wait, wait. Let me get this right.

Lower priced books

combined with

MORE books because people can now self-publish

results in something

detrimental to the larger health of the culture????

I mean, latte-sipping, self-absorbed, east coasters under the employ of their dad's publishing house might be delusional enough to fall for this, but NOBODY ELSE WILL! Yes, I can't wait for another drama-book about some 30 something female professional living in New York. We don't have enough of those, right? Who wants to read about, say, the education bubble, or a comic book, or the witty satire of Sinfest. No, please write "Eat Pray Love 2." And NEVER publish any of those other guys!

Additionally, by default, you're suggesting the rest of the country is supposed to just give up on a cheaper and MUCH WIDER selection of books all so you guys can keep your jobs? No doubt you all hate Wal-Mart too for their everyday low prices that has done more to eliminate poverty and improve people's standards of living? What evil entities Amazon and Wal-Mart are!

Well, pout, scream and stamp your little feet. Throw a tantrum or a hissy-fit. Do whatever it is your natural reaction tells you to do, in the end it won't matter. Publishers are going bye bye. If you were nice, professional and not elitists, you may have been able to extend the life of the industry by a couple decades, but now, people are cheering for the death of your industry.

Enjoy the decline! (and I can't mean that enough ;)


betty swollocks said...

London Book Fair: publishing world struggles to adapt to new lines

The partying goes on at Earl's Court, but new formats and self-publishing are changing the industr

Anonymous said...

I'm a fan of science fiction books, Baen books has a large free e-book library (in all formats) and releases e-books (at $6.00 a pop) on their own site at the same time as the hard back is released. This publisher is changing with the times.

Anonymous said...

Hey cap'n I linked to you from this HuffPo article:

If you get a traffic bump, that might be the cause.

Jim said...

You better not toss away your book just yet. Heard a report that the sub-primes are back in action............again. Mortgages, auto loans, and of course plastic are once again going up. And we know the next crash is going to be much worse and come much sooner.

Captain Capitalism said...

Thanks Rix! I really do appreciate it. It's individuals such as yourself that makes a link here or there and then all of the sudden,sombeody knows somebody who puts it in Bill O'Reilly's hand or something.

If you're ever in Montana, give a shout, I'll buy you a Rumpie!

Anonymous said...

A lot of publishers haven't gotten it yet. They're selling ebooks at well above paperback prices.

Stoner With a Boner said...

same thing happened with the music industry....

it's a better world for undiscovered artists and writers with a little cash and some good ideas....

the oversized industries, naw, not so much....

The Great and Powerful Oz said...

While I agree with your comments on the traditional book publishers, I am also very concerned about Amazon getting an effective monopoly on ebooks. That is something I will fight against!

I'll also say that I have never read an author's work that could not be improved by a good editor. There are some authors who I will no longer buy anything they write because they became big enough names to feed their ego by getting contracts that prohibited editing of their works.

BenC said...

If the publishers were smart they would leverage the assets they have mainly experienced editors and PR people.Get rid of publishing and sell your editing and PR services to authors. I have a hard time paying as much or more for and e-book as a paperback much less a hardcover book knowing that the overhead was dramatically less for the e-book. I want the author to reap the benefits of his labor but somehow I doubt that extra money is finding its way to his pockets .