Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

How Is Digital Self-Publishing Affecting Traditional Publishers?

The importance of relying on a few people at massive companies to judge whether a book should be published seems to be evaporating… 


Image courtesy of Zsuzsanna Kilian ~

Plus, self-publishing isn’t really new.

Many famous authors of the past self-published.

The difference (and, what’s causing concern for traditional publishers) is Freely-Available Digital Tools.

I’m going to share part of an article by Jack W Perry, owner of a consulting firm helping publishing transition to digital.

First, though, I’ll list a few of my past posts that could help you get up to speed on what’s been happening:

The Various Flavors of Publishing . . . (interesting comments on that one)

Will Traditional Publishers Survive? (two authoritative comments there)

Indie Authors Are Learning How To Act Like Publishers

So, are you familiar with a company called Harlequin—billed as “the world’s leading romance book publisher”?

Seems they’re in a bit of trouble and some “experts” feel what’s happening to them might happen to the other legacy publishers

There’s an article on Digital Book World called, Lessons Publishers Can Learn From Harlequin’s Annual Results, by Jack W Perry, where he says:

“Harlequin’s annual revenues have dropped by almost $100-million over the past five years.”

It’s true that Harlequin is a single-genre publisher but Perry thinks their annual report has warnings for other traditionals.

Here’s some of what Harlequin said:

“The proliferation of less expensive, and free, self-published works could negatively impact Harlequin’s revenues in the future.”

“The low cost of digitization has also led to a proliferation in the number of digital titles available and increased competition.”

“The significant growth of the digital book market in recent years has resulted in a contraction of the retail print market.”

“Online retailers have also entered into the book publishing business creating additional competition.”

“The decrease in North American revenues was the result of declines in the retail print and direct-to-consumer channels.”

There are some apologists for legacy publishing who are still crying foul about these changes

It’s like some kid screaming that the lemonade stand next to his—the one with hand-squeezed lemons (not instant powder) and free refills—is cutting into his business

Of course it is!

Wise up, kid, and find your own competitive advantage.

Am I being callous?

Is there more to it?

Are self-published e-books automatically inferior?

What are your thoughts and feelings?
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5 responses to “How Is Digital Self-Publishing Affecting Traditional Publishers?

  1. adaddinsane April 2, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    I am a self-publisher, three books so far, and I have three more due out by the end of the year. I spent 20 years as a magazine editor so I know one end of a word from the other. I spend money on editors and covers. Layout I do myself because I know how.

    The situation is simple: There is a shift in power.

    The power is now with the authors because they can choose *not* to go through the traditional publishers. Traditional publishers must understand this before they can adapt.

    It is clear from their state of denial they have yet to comprehend it.

    (The question about quality is irrelevant: plenty of good books do not get published because they do not hit just the right agent/publisher at just the right time. And as profits get squeezed the traditional publishers become even more desperate to find “the book that is gold” to satisfy their shareholders–not necessarily books of “quality”. Instead of putting out a wide selection as once was the case.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. penpusherpen April 3, 2014 at 6:06 am

    Me too, Alexander, I agree totally with adadinsane, (took me while to comprehend the name :) ) stands to sense publishers are looking for the Goose that lays the Golden Egg, profit is their goal, as it is the goal of those who want to see their work printed. A middle ground ? xx


    • Alexander M Zoltai April 3, 2014 at 10:42 am

      I remember someone saying, Pen, that the Legacy Publishers are, bottom-line, Businesses—very hard for them to be Shepherds to Literature (though they shout they are).

      Yet, that stark angel, Technology, is evening the playing field :-)


  3. Pingback: A Few Facts ( And, Speculations) About Indie Author Earnings | Notes from An Alien

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