Notes from An Alien

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Tag Archives: Random House

The Conversation Continues ~ the Issues with Traditional Publishing . . .

Recently, our Conversation here has had a focus on Publishing, in the post on March 14th—The Conversation Is Still Fizzling . . .—and the post on March 19th—Back to Our Conversations ~ What the Heck Is Privishing?… Traditional Publishing

And, a regular reader (and poet) had this comment on the post of the 19th:

“Does it ever make sense for a book publishing company to suppress a book, not to mention that it is contrary to their very reason for existence? It speaks to the arrogance of such companies and individuals who think that they know what will sell, and more importantly, what the public wants to read. They have been proven to be completely wrong in many cases and will continue to practice their arrogance despite this fact.”

Very strong words, yet easy to back up…

For instance, from the post here in November 2017—Why Traditional Publishing Is Not for Serious Writers . . .—excerpts from author Erica Verrillo, critiquing a senior literary editor at Random House:

“We think editors at publishing houses edit. The truth is they spend most of their time responding to memos, developing profit-and-loss statements, figuring out advances, supplementing publicity efforts, fielding calls from agents, attending meetings, and so on. They edit on weekends and evenings, and on the train as they are commuting.”

“Privishing (where the publisher quietly suppresses books, whether intentionally or not) has become the norm for publishers for various reasons, the first of which is that there are limitations on budgets. The second is that editors compete for those budgets.”

“The negative attitude that editors develop about manuscripts and proposals is in part because budgets are limited, and is in part driven by competition. But mindless rejection is also an inherent feature of publishing….Editors are not only competing for budgets, they are engaged in what may be described as a pissing contest in snark.”

“…publishers identify writers as ‘outsiders’, as ‘them’, even though their income depends on the people they publish. This, I believe, is a significant component of the attitude that is shared almost universally among publishers…”

Then, in a post here from March 2016—How Close to Insanity Is the Traditional Publishing Industry?—I excerpted Gene Doucette (who’s been traditionally and self-published); but, rather than include those excerpts here, I’ll share the link to the article my post excerpted—The Collective Insanity of the Publishing Industry

And, finally, I present to the jury information from a post here in August of 2015—Another Good Reason to Avoid Traditional Publishing—and, this time, I’ll first share this info from that post:

“…there’s an author named Dean Wesley Smith who spent 40 years with traditional publishers, then did it all himself, then helped start a mid-sized publishing company. He’s written the article, The New World of Publishing: The Real Price of Traditional Publishing.”

Here are a few excerpts:

“In the last two years I have seen a couple dozen author contracts from various traditional houses. ‘Life of Copyright’ is always a non-negotiable contract term in the United States if you are a normal-level writer.”

“The ‘life of a copyright’ at the moment in the US is the life of the author plus 70 years.

“An example: I finish the book I am working on. I am 65 years of age. Say I live another 30 years to 95. Then add 70 years and the life of the copyright for the novel I just finished will be 100 years.

“That’s what the ‘Life of Copyright’ term in a contract means.

“That’s right, your great-grandkids might be able to get your book back that you sold for a few thousand in one hundred years or so. But at that point the book will drop into the public domain and not be worth anything to them.”

“The real price of traditional publishing is total loss of control over your work.”

Now, I’ll give you a link to the archive of posts on this blog about Self-Publishing

If you want to keep this Conversation going, just share your thoughts and/or feelings in the Comments… :-)
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So, What The Hell Is Wrong With Traditional Publishers?

David Gaughran has written a fascinating post on his blog—Publishers Behaving Badly, Part I’ve Lost Count.

Right after he indicates that the two essential players in the book-world are writers and readers and that retailers are at least acting somewhat rational about justifying their cut of the money (leaving agents, publishers, and distributors in a somewhat suspicious position), he says:

“Publishers seem determined to move in the opposite direction: making the proposition of publishing with them less attractive rather than more attractive, reducing advances, worsening contract terms, and treating writers as marks rather than partners – despite whatever guff accompanies the launch of their latest initiatives.”

He then goes on to indict Random House about the scandalous terms they offered authors with their new digital-first imprints—Hydra, Alibi, Flirt & Loveswept.

But Gaughran certainly isn’t alone.

Here are just a few other opinions (and, a bit of news) about this outrage:

Authors Warned Away from eBook-Only Imprints

Second-Class Contracts? Deal Terms at Random House’s Hydra Imprint

Hydra Changes Contract Terms in Response to Pressure From Writers Groups

Random House Revises Contract for Digital-First SF Imprint Hydra – Promises to Exploit Authors Less

Random House Announces New Terms at Digital Imprints Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, and Flirt

It will be interesting to see what actually falls out from this dramatic turn of events

Back at Gaughran’s post, he also has something to say on these topics:

Author Solutions Class Action?

Simon & Schuster Offers Bribes To Pimp Author Solutions

Dymocks-owned D Publishing is Toast

I can only imagine future headlines, future escapades, future fails for a dinosaur industry that needs massive transformation just to stay alive………
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Penguin Random House ~ What Does It Mean?

Will the proposed, new largest publisher of the former Big Six change the publishing business?

Will it successfully counter the Amazon foot-print?

Will anything substantial change?

While I feel the future of publishing will be some balance between “Full-Service” Publishers and thriving Self-Publishing, the remaining “legacy” publishers will need to learn from the self-publishers.

I found four sources with varied opinions on this merger.


First, Gavin James Bower, editorial director at independent publisher Quartet Books, in Penguin merger minuses could be pluses for indies:

“The reactions to news that the publishing arms of Bertelsmann and Pearson are merging, creating the biggest publisher in the world in Penguin Random House, can be summed up in one word: negative.”

“The merger is an example of the big boys battening down the hatches; no matter what they say, this isn’t about exploiting ‘high-growth emerging markets’.”

“In any recession, the vanguard is to be found beyond the mainstream—and risks taken by those typically seen as outsiders. Indies, as they always do, will be seen as the risk-takers in a climate of doom and gloom, nurturing talent and publishing books not deemed safe enough for the panicky, profit-driven corporations.”

The next source of opinion is from Andy Lewis, Staff Writer for The Hollywood Reporter—What the Random House-Penguin Merger Means for Authors (Analysis):

“The Oct. 29 merger of book behemoths Random House and Penguin not only creates the world’s largest publisher…it also will present a formidable challenge to the growing power of such digital distributors as Amazon and Apple. And some already are worrying that the consolidation will decrease opportunities for authors and drive down advances.”

“But some…have argued that the future of publishing is with pure digital players unburdened by legacy costs (like printing).”

“Still, the combination is likely to be just the first shoe that drops in publishing. When news of the Penguin-Random House talks leaked, News Corp. owner HarperCollins made a late offer for Penguin for a reported $1.6 billion. Now analysts are wondering which of the remaining “Big Six” (Macmillan, Hachette or Simon & Schuster) Rupert Murdoch will court next.”

Next is Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director at Digital Book World, in a Forbes article—Five Thoughts on a Penguin-Random House Merger: Rapid Reaction:

“Penguin and Random House, by many accounts the two largest trade publishers in the world, have agreed to merge operations. The deal will be subject to regulatory approval and isn’t expected to close until the second half of 2013.”

“When two large companies merge, there are cost-savings to be had in combining shared business functions.”

“The company would have 9,000 employees and would have locations in about 20 countries around the world, including China, India, all major English-speaking countries and many countries in the Spanish-speaking world.”

“It’s been speculated the Penguin Random House would control about 40% of the U.S. trade book business….That gives the company more negotiating power, specifically with its largest trading partner, Amazon.”

“…the larger Penguin Random House might have the negotiating power to squeeze better terms from agents and authors in exchange for unmatched marketing and distribution resources.”

Next are Eric Pfanner & Amy Chozick at The New York TimesRandom House and Penguin Merger Creates Global Giant:

“In announcing the agreement, the European owners of Random House and Penguin—Bertelsmann and Pearson, respectively—said Bertelsmann would control 53 percent of the combined entity and Pearson 47 percent.”

“The other four houses among the so-called Big Six are also owned by larger media conglomerates: HarperCollins, which is part of News Corporation; Macmillan, owned by Georg von Holtzbrinck of Germany; Hachette, whose parent company is Lagardère of France; and Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS. They could all now face increased pressure to consolidate in response to a combined Penguin Random House.”

“Small publishers with a niche focus and loyal groups of authors and readers might manage to remain independent, said Douglas McCabe, an analyst at Enders Analysis in London.”

“The combined company is expected to invest heavily in e-books and what Mr. Dohle [the new CEO] called digital product development. He said that did not necessarily mean it would produce its own e-reader device, as some in the industry expected.”

“Authors and literary agents, one step removed from the merger, have expressed concern about consolidation, fearing that they will lose leverage if there are fewer publishers.”

“‘The idea of this company is to combine the small company culture and the small company feeling on the creative and content side with the richest and most enhanced access to services on the corporate side’, Mr. Dohle said.”


Well now, I think we all know how leaders in mega-business can paint pictures that never translate to reality

Some folks feel this merger, as well as easily predicted further mergers, will not stave off Amazon’s growing power.

Some see the mergers as a prequel to more balance between digital and print.

Most people have no idea what will happen

Want to speculate in the Comments? :-)
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E-books & Libraries of The Future . . .

Most folks know what “going to the library” means.

Thing is, that phrase carries different meanings for different people.

Many go to the library to take out books; some to upload e-books, some to meet a sweetheart, some to find a quiet place to rest from the stress of homelessness

I’ve looked at libraries a few different ways in previous posts. Here are a few:

Libraries Weathering The Storm In Publishing

Should We All Self-Publish A Book?

Been To Your Local Library Lately?

However, not all is well with the relationship between legacy publishers and libraries

Take this recent excerpt from a post on DailyTech:

“Last month, Random House announced that it would be making some changes to the way it sells e-books to libraries, including price increases. But libraries didn’t expect cost boosts as high as 300 percent, where no titles are offered under $25. Some even go as high as over $100 per title.”

The piece goes on to say:

“…Hachette and Macmillan have only made part of their list of e-book titles available to libraries, HarperCollins puts a 26-use expiration on its library e-books, and others like Simon & Schuster and Penguin don’t even let libraries lend out their e-books.”

If you’d like an in-depth take on a modern’s library’s issues, check out this article in The Tyee, Libraries of the Future!

Do you still use a local library?

Do you have fond memories of a library?

Do you think libraries will be able to sustain their operations with all the current changes in the Book World?
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