The Week in Publishing

by J Tanner

Catch up on the industry news and opinion you may have missed this week.

Trade Publishing

  • John B Thompson, author of Merchants of Culture, the acclaimed book on the state publishing in the 21st century, gives an interview discussing industry developments in the year since the book was published.
  • And you thought the publishing business was crazy before? Bellevue mental hospital now runs a publishing press.
  • Mike Shatzkin surprisingly (given his position as an industry consultant and insider) argues that giving authors a higher royalty rate is in the industry’s best financial interest. He also explains how publishers in effect give a larger share of the proceeds to their bestselling authors by giving them advances no one expects to earn out so they can avoid negotiation on the royalty rate for anyone.
  • Maja Thomas, senior VP of digital at Hachette, is interviewed, commenting on the growth of digital revenue, going into online retail with, and explaining the purpose of the internal Hachette memo leaked last week. My favorite bit: characterizing the gleeful screed by Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler the memo inspired as “more limited success.” A close second:  Amazon and B&N should be “happy” with more competition via Bookish in the book retailing business. I’m guessing not likely…
  • Kris Rusch discusses how most authors don’t seem to understand their place in the trade publishing business. You’re a supplier, and small potatoes.

The New World of Publishing

  • Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords blasts Amazon’s KDP Select program as anti-competetive.
  • Google takes another stab at a digital magazine platform with the Google Currents app for Android and iOS. Will anyone buy into the idea that the Internet itself isn’t already the best medium for this kind of content?
  • Darcie Chan is profiled as her Mill River Recluse is the latest self-published book to reach phenom level sales.
  • USA Today just heard about this whole self-publishing e-book thing and put together a nice overview of the movement and success stories, focusing on Michael Prescott, then going on to profile Barbara Freethy, Joe Konrath (can the Titanic quote be made into a drinking game somehow?), Darcie Chan, Amanda Hocking, and CJ Lyons. For “balance” they get Andrew Martin of St. Martin’s Press to soundbite why trade publishing is still a good choice for authors and he does a serviceable job before saying something dumb: “[we offer] aggressive protection against e-books being illegally pirated.” That big St. Martin’s release of James Hall’s DEAD LAST on November 22? The torrent was up on November 2 according to Google…
  • Books & Such agent Wendy Lawton on what an agent really does for an author, and whether it will be a valuable role in the future. Oddly, it is based on the premise of such revolutionary change in the industry that the role of selling books to trade publishers won’t be a sustainable career. Just “what if” speculation, or does she really believe that extinction or irrelevance is the near-future of trade publishing?


  • Just about everyone has taken a shot at Amazon for their Price Check app promotion that encourages users to go into competitor’s physical stores to compare prices, but make their final purchases on Amazon with a 5% discount. I found this article with authors who generally love Amazon taking aim the most entertaining.

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