From Gene Doucette … an excellent post discussing the collective insanity of the publishing industry

This excellent post written by Gene Doucette came to my attention recently, and I applaud him for hitting the nail precisely on the head with regards to this whole “print books are outselling eBooks!” and “eBooks are dying!” business that has been making the rounds in the media and on Facebook. Friends have sent me these articles and asked what I thought of the early death of eBooks. I’ve always thought this was a load of crock, but didn’t have the evidence … until I read this blog post of Gene’s. What he says here is entirely believable, and I know it is, because I worked for publishers for a very long time and, for the most part, they never wanted to change the industry in any way – as long as it was going their way. When eBooks were first introduced, I saw this new format as a means of reaching an even wider audience of readers. Not so the publishers who were angst-ridden over marketing and selling these new eBooks – but would never entertain any of my suggestions as to how this might be done differently or how it could involve the traditional booksellers as well as the new online sales markets. That’s all in the past, though, because I walked from that job and began using my own new ePublication to test some of these ideas I’d had. So, it was with great pleasure to discover the following post that explains exactly why the claims of an early demise of digital books are just not true. (Thanks to Gene Doucette for permission to reblog this post, which has gone viral since I first read it. Congratulations, Gene!.)


The collective insanity of the publishing industry
February 29, 2016 by Gene Doucette

Unless you’re a writer, I imagine you haven’t been paying quite as close attention to the publishing industry and all its weirdness as I have, and that’s a shame, because it’s been really entertaining.

Actually, entertaining isn’t the right word. It’s been insane, but the kind of insane that’s unreasonably fun to watch from a safe remove. Like watching a man stop traffic to cross against a green light by shouting, “I’ll bite your car!” As long as it isn’t your car he’s threatening, it’s sort of funny.

You might imagine that as an author with published works for sale, I am not at a safe remove when it comes to the publishing industry. That’s sort of true, but only sort-of.

Here’s a superb example of the madness of which I speak, and why I’m not concerned that anyone will be biting my car.

In 2014, there was a drawn-out dispute between Amazon, and Hachette. The latter is one of the largest publishers in the world, and Amazon is a company that sells things, such as books. The essence of the dispute was that Hachette—and all the other publishers we affectionately refer to as ‘the Big 5’—wanted more control over the list price of their e-books on Amazon.

That sounds thoroughly reasonable, and it sort of is, but please let me explain because the crazy is in the details. What was happening was that Amazon was discounting the price of the ebooks, and it may seem like this is something the Big 5 would want to stop, except the markdown was coming off of Amazon’s end. In other words, if Hachette wanted to charge $15.99 for an ebook, and Amazon marked it down to $9.99, Hachette was still paid their cut of the full price of the book.

More people will buy a book at $9.99 than at $15.99, so essentially, the Big 5 was coming out ahead in this arrangement in every conceivable way. They collected royalties at an unreasonably high price point while moving the number of units that corresponded to a lower price point.

So of course that had to be stopped right away. Read the complete post here.

For readers in the US, Gene is running a Goodreads Giveaway for his book, The Spaceship Next Door. Enter here!

2 responses

  1. Yep, great article. I read it on The Passive Voice so it’s certainly doing the rounds – deservedly so.

  2. Excuse me while I roll on the floor laughing my head off. I’ve been following this for some time and still shake my head. o_O

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