Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Problem #3: Traditional Publishing Is Not Dead

They call it "Brick and Mortar Publishing" for a reason.

Publishing is a global industry. It's nestled between porn and legal drugs for the amount of money it generates every year.

Porn = $14 billion a year.
Book Publishing = $23-28 billion a year
Pharmaceuticals = $235 billion a year

Which is a lot of money. For the last few hundred years all this money has been tied up in standard print inventory for the main publishing houses. They are the ones who select mostly really good saleable stories, edit them rigorously and then market the hell out of them.

This is an expensive process for a story. Investing a lot of money on a book project means that publishers are very picky about what they consider. Which is where agents came from. Agents are now also very picky about what they consider - which is why the self-publishing industry and it's evil twin vanity publishing - have evolved. That and technology for both production and sale of books.

A lot has been said about how traditional publishing houses are dying out - book stores are closing, publishing houses are also closing. But a lot of them are not. A lot of books are still being bought and read and new best selling authors are being discovered every day.

Best selling authors are discovered much like Columbus discovered America - they've always been there - doing their thing - and it wasn't until someone with a lot of money to invest realised that they could make huge profits out of them that they got any attention at all.

So traditional publishing isn't going to die out. Ebooks will change the way we expect to buy books, but the Big NYC Publishing Houses will continue to produce product and maybe they will eventually embrace the idea of ebooks to the point where they will stop pretending that a revolution on the way books are produced and consumed isn't actually happening.

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