Okay, let’s say you make cake for sale.
No problem! You start your own shop and sell cake or you sell cake to other shops or both. Depends on which direction you want to go.
Okay, let’s say you make stories for sale.
Well, crap. You used to have to sell your stories through an agent to an editor to a publisher to a printer to a distributor to another distributor to a retail outlet. But that’s what happens when you let the merchants take over the business. The people making cake don’t make the money, and the cake gets stale.
Now, you can write stories and sell them at your own shop or to other shops or both.
The distributors are figuring out how to get their fingers in the pie, by making sure that story shops won’t buy stories from people who make stories. Want to give an ebook away for free directly to a school or library? Good luck with that.
But the publishers are in even more of a pickle than the writers; the distributors are going right around them to pick up writers.
Solution: go right around the distributors and retailers, directly to to the consumer.
Everybody’s trying to cut out everybody else (except the writers, who need to be controlled rather than excised).
Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and Penguin are starting Bookish.com, a website to do…what? Be a book review site? Sell books directly to consumers? Somehow exert more control over writers?
Passive Guy talks about the idiocy of Bookish.com: big publishers know what, exactly, about selling directly to consumers (or about recommending books that aren’t theirs to sell?)
But The Idea Logical Company talks about how Bookish.com is set up to retaliate against retailers Amazon and B&N.
I don’t think Bookish.com will be much of a game changer unless they take indy authors, either directly or through a distributor.
If they don’t, they:
- Won’t have as much work available as retailers that take on indy work.
- May come to find, as retailers who publish indies (like Amazon) start acting as publishers and opening up their own lines of books, that they do not have pick of the best indies anymore.
Should they sell indies, directly or indirectly? (Indirectly = handing off more money to the distributors/retailers, which is what they’re trying to avoid, right?) What effects could it have for big publishers to support work that hasn’t gone through the official chain of editorial command? Will they have enough to sell, if they don’t? If they don’t, will they have to take on more work (possibly solely as ebooks) and publish it faster, more efficiently, to even remotely keep up with Amazon?
Okay, granted, there’s the smart thing (which is not necesarily the wise thing), and then there’s what actually happens. Personally, I find myself mystified about the whole thing. It seems like the only reason to do this is to either a) pull all their books away from other e-retailers (too little, too late, IMO) or b) stop doing the things that made them succeed as publishers, like exerting at least a modicrum of editorial/story standards on books before they’re published.
The opportunity is there for big publishing to change, and it probably needs to be done. But is this it? Dunno. If inertia is killing you, then taking on more baggage (joining with two other companies) may cause additional problems, rather than solutions.