Friday, June 4, 2010

Going on in Publishing

I'd like to start a semi-new feature on this blog. The idea: troll the Internet for interesting trends or factoids about the publishing industry, the writing biz, etc. Stuff that writers should know. The kind of stuff I like to tweet on The Writer's Center's Twitter account. Collecting all this data is my great new summer intern, Shawn Orenstein. Here she's cobbled everything together for you. Obviously there's a lot more out there. Anyway, I'm done. Here's Shawn....

Last week, Garrison Keillor proclaimed that book publishing “is about to slide into the sea.” He sardonically wrote about the benefits of self-publishing, “… if you want to write, you just write and publish yourself. No need to ask permission, just open a website. And if you want to write a book, just write it, send it to Lulu.com or BookSurge at Amazon or PubIt or ExLibris and you’ve got yourself an e-book. And that is the future of publishing: 18 million authors in America, each with an average of 14 readers, eight of whom are a blood relative.” Keillor failed to understand the benefit that self-publishers see: not having to deal with the gatekeepers in the publishing industry, who have been appointed to determine who is worthy to get into print and who is not.

His words can be found here.

Keillor obviously did not take his argument far enough. Apple now has a mechanism to self-publish through them without the need for a non-threatening middleman like Lulu and defiantly not an agent or a deal with a real publishing house. Apple clearly has their own ideas for the eBook market and the company refuses to ignore any options within that market, including self-publishing authors. Here are the new 7 easy steps to 21st century publishing:

1. Write a book.

2. Use an Intel-based Mac running on OS X 10.5 (or later edition).

3. Alter your book into an ePub format.

4. Get a 13 digit ISBN number, which could take about two weeks.

5. Get an iTunes store account and enter your credit card number.

6. Make sure you have a US Tax ID.

7. Set your price.

And there you have it. You’re a published author! To learn more, go here.

In other news of previously thriving industries such as printed books, small book stores continue to be threatened by the Internet. However, they have been grabbing hold to Amazon for help. Professor Sandeep Krishnamurthy from the University of Washington, who specializes in e-commerce, reported that "Amazon really started off with the idea that they’d do all the selling. Then they realized they were not profitable—they were growing too fast and losing money on every product they sold…. They realized it was not about the company selling to one set of customers, it was about creating a marketplace. … They’ve been in the business of enabling local companies." Small bookstores seem to have accepted the power of Amazon. These sellers have allowed Amazon to sell their goods directly to Amazon customers, simultaneously losing some of their potential profits.

Unfortunately, Amazon can only do so much for these sellers that are trying to keep in the bookselling business, especially since Amazon is trying to promote the Kindle, which pops up immediately when you open the Amazon page, gently reminding those that love printed books that it is the “#1 BEST SELLING PRODUCT ON AMAZON.”

Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading business division, reported confidently that E-Books will take over print within the next five years. He said: “Within five years there will be more digital content sold than physical content. Three years ago, I said within ten years but I realized that was wrong—it’s within five."

Shawn Orenstein is an intern at The Writer’s Center.

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