Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Future of Publishing
Part 1

What is one thing you would you do to change book publishing for the better?

Book publishers need to stop wasting time worrying about whether or not newspapers are going to still be running book reviews. It's not the book industry's job to hold book reviewers' hands through a"crisis" they brought upon themselves. Let the reviewers and their editors figure out, if they can, how to regain their relevance to their audiences, while book publishers concentrate on ALL the ways they can be relevant to readers.
Ron Hogan
senior editor,

As an almost-ex-bookseller, I have to admit that in ten years, I never was able to figure out how co-op worked. (Maybe that is why I am an almost-ex-bookseller). I knew that there was money out there but between ordering, waiting on customers, paying the bills and cleaning the bathroom, I did not have time to research and educate myself. If publishers want independent bookstores to survive, they should offer them the same terms as the big guys and keep any additional monetary incentives simple and easy to decipher.
Terry Lucas, bookseller/librarian

My suggestion to the book industry is to ask publishers to be forthcoming with their authors. We understand that times are tough, and that at least for the foreseeable future, there are going to be ever-increasing financial limitations as to what our publishers can and can't do for our books. If authors know exactly what to expect going in, they can work closely with their publishers to do the best possible job of bringing out each book. The better each individual book sells, the better the industry does as a whole.
Karen Dionne, author of FREEZING POINT

Get rid of returns
1b Get rid of outrageous advances (and thus agents)
1c Start publishing content that is actually about something important
1d Throw all the foreign owners out the door and require that all US media companies be owned by Americans (like the Canadians do)
Margo Baldwin, President & Publisher, Chelsea Green Publishing

More to come tomorrow. If you work in publishing (author, editor, agent, critic, bookseller or reporter) and would like to participate, email me at with your response to "What is one thing you would you do to change book publishing for the better?" and I will post it.

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Blogger GFS3 said...

The returns are, indeed, a killer for book publishers. One gets the feeling that book publishers are being overtaken by all of the bad businesses practices that have become part and parcel of the industry.

Great idea for a series. Looking forward to reading more.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Bella Stander said...

Even without "outrageous" advances, authors would still need agents. What new (or old) author knows which editors are acquiring what; or how to negotiate US vs world English rights, or a bestseller bump, or e-book rights?

11:35 AM  
Blogger Jenny Rae Rappaport said...

Bella, I'm completely in agreement with you. I'd like to see an author go through a major house's boilerplate without an agent, and come out not getting screwed over.

10:16 PM  
Blogger Bella Stander said...

You'd be looking long and hard, like Diogenes wandering the streets of Athens searching for an honest man.

11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Writing, at its most fundamental level, is a form of communication. In the old days, author-reader relationships could be established by correspondence c/o the publishing house, or through an agent. A few days ago, I contacted a bestselling author (on Twitter) just to bust balls and mince words. He gave me enough of his time to respond thoughtfully. This exchange had at least one important consequence: It made me want to go buy and read his books. The best part about this is that he’s not the first author I’ve connected with via social media, and he won’t be the last. While Macmillan’s “From the Typewriter to the Bookstore” makes a crack at author-editor correspondence over Twitter, I still suspect my personal experience is replicable on a large scale. The fact that a writer’s fame is likely proportional to the extent to which social media becomes a timesuck to him/her makes it more or less a self-regulating option. If publishing houses were better capable of facilitating direct author-reader correspondence, or if they could provide appropriate incentives for authors who would be open to adopting modes of communication with that kind of dynamism and immediacy, it would be a small price to pay.

2:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Throw all the foreign owners out the door and require that all US media companies be owned by Americans (like the Canadians do)"

How pathetic (especially as those foreigners are doing better in their own countries). So others start throwing out Hollywood ... than you will be surprised who gets economically more hurt.

11:09 AM  

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