Monday, November 02, 2009

Latest from the book wars

Vicki here, to say that I am somewhat of an optimist amongst all the doom and gloom talk about the future of publishing. I think books, real books, made of paper and ink, will be around for a very long time still. Electronic books, Kindles and Sony Readers and the like, will keep getting stronger and probably better and will continue to display books on their little screens. Books to be read on cell phones might lead to the considerable dummying down of books (short words, short sentences, simple plots, all to fit on the little screen) but I don’t see anyone who is the sort of reader that I (and the rest of us on Type M) are writing for abandoning detailed, complex mysteries for prose to read on their cell phone.

But there is one very dark cloud on the literary horizon that could have a deleterious effect on mid-list authors and mid-sized publishers.

The price war between Wal-Mart and Amazon that is driving down the price of books.

If you aren’t aware of what is happening, apparently Wal-Mart began pricing current, bestselling hardcover books at $10. Amazon responded and the prices are now down around the $9.00 mark. What’s the problem, you might ask. The author still gets their royalties based on list price and if Wal-Mart and Amazon want to sell books at a loss let them.

The problem is that if one can buy a bestseller from the writing factory that is Big-Name-Author and person-who-actually-does-the-writing are they going to fork out $24 or more (much more in Canada) for a new release book by a mid-list or new author?

If books are perceived to have a value of $10 or less, how long before publishers want to renegotiate contracts with authors. But more importantly how long can mid-list publishers, whose hardcover books aren’t being sold for $9.00 keep competing?

And what is going to happen to the publishing industry if new and mid-list authors can get published because the smaller publishers have been driven out of business.

Do you want to have your reading choices limited to that which a mega-corporation marketing department has decided to offer you?

When you’re buying books this season for gifts, please keep in mind the value of a book. Not just the price.

On a more cheerful note, wasn’t our weekend event fun? Congrats to the Stiletto Gang for putting together that great scavenger hunt. We have chosen the winners of the Type M part of the hunt, and will be contacting them over the next couple of days.

No comments: