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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Another opinion on digital books

Publishers must change radically, says Luke Johnson

Hardly worldshaking news, as commentators such as Publishers Lunch observed, after The Bookseller.com reported the "profound" statements of fortune-hunter (and maker) Luke Johnson.

In a nutshell, this is what he predicts:

# Publishers will sell direct to readers

# Printing businesses will fold

# Bookstores will vanish

# Amazon will increase its "scary dominance"

# Physical books will become more expensive

# The power of literary agents will increase as they turn to independent ePublishing

# Territorial rights will disappear

# Producing books will become much, much faster

Whether you agree with any of this or not, that Johnson should be a pundit seems ironic, considering his history.  A serial entrepreneur, "Cool Hand Luke" is best known for his involvement with Pizza Express.  He is also the man who tried to resuscitate Borders, and failed.

4 comments:

collison said...

The main thing that distresses me is the slow disappearance of the art and craft of writing. It's all about the hype and the buzz.

Caron Eastgate Dann said...

I don't know if the word 'predicts' describes his statements: all of this has already happened or is in the process of happening. Book publishing has gone all postmodern on us. I love my Kindle, but I continue to read printed books as well (often because not everything is available digitally yet). MY prediction is that the old craft of making books as objects of beauty will return in a big way. Mass-produced books, such as mainstream novels, will almost all be digital. But there will always be a market for beautiful objects, books among them. Book collecting will also continue, so second-hand book shops that specialise in particular types of vintage books will prosper.

Joan Druett said...

Could not agree more, Caron. I look at my bookshelves with new eyes now, thinking how much more valuable the books seem. I can see an era coming soon where used book dealers will change the names of their stores (Echoes of the Printed Past?) to something much more elegant, and call themselves antique book dealers. It might be a whole new slant for the Antiques Road show to explore!

Joan Druett said...

Hype and buzz have been going on a while. I remember when S&S were my publishers, and I was supposed to contribute so much of my own money to promoting my books - -such as getting myself from New Zealand to New York. I was happy about that, thinking that I would profit in the end, and then I found that Mary Higgins Clark was paid a six million dollar advance for a book that came out at the same time as one of mine! Granted, her books are guaranteed bestsellers, but I felt as if they were putting their money on a sure favorite, and neglecting the promising future. How many books did they publish at the same time that would have paid good dividends, if only they hadn't squandered so much on what I consider obscene advances?

Another grumble inspired by your post, Linda, is that once a writer sells well, good editors go by the wayside. I have picked up books that have been hugely hyped, by authors with said obscene advances, and the grammatical errors are rife. Worse still, it is obvious that the book could have done with a good developmental editor in the early stages.

Rant over! Thanks for your comment.