Friday, August 6, 2010

The future is closer than we thought

I've been saying this for several years so really, it should come as no surprise when I use the cliche: The future is now and it's digital.

Why is this such a shock? Those of us in the digital marketplace can tell you, we've seen and lived in this new "scary venture" for years now and while the road's been bumpy, the journey has been completely worthwhile. Digital publishing is no longer the wave of the future. It's the new face of publishing.

When Dorchester, one of the oldest publishers of mass market trade paperback, announced today their decision to move to a digital sales model, leaving behind the mass market sales model and choosing a POD (print-on-demand) option, the outcry and shock hit the waves almost as fast as the announcement of a beloved artist's demise. Why the long face? Dorchester has simply taken a step toward improving their bottom line and in the process of doing so, will be able to provide authors with an opportunity to cut out the middle man.

No More Middle Man. What does this mean for authors? Higher royalties, less worry about returns and higher sales. How is this a bad thing? It's not the death of print. If I hear this cliché one more time, I think I'll scream. We're at a turning point in the publishing industry, a digital renaissance as-it-were and as it has been with every revolution, this digital one has opened new venues and opportunities for everyone. Yes, what iTunes has done for the music industry, the ePubs are doing for publishing.

There is a reason bookstores like Barnes & Noble put themselves up for sale. When sales via eReaders outnumber the physical sales at the brick-and-mortar stores, bookstores and publishers take notice. When the music industry changed, artists found themselves with the opportunity to make more money without having to loan out money to the record label for their talent. When books are not sold at the bookstores these return to the publishers who then charge the author a reserve against those returns. In digital, there are no real returns. Every digital download requested is what is supplied.

While the print world has looked for ways to change, digital publishers jumped into the fray with their eyes on the future and their heart in their hands. The leap has paid off handsomely. Today, Dorchester took that leap.

So to the naysayers and panic-stricken people who today were shocked by their announcement, I say, "Welcome to the Digital pool! The cabana boys are ready and the water's great! Take the leap!"


  1. People tend to fear change, but look how much we've changed already with the Web, smart phones and e-readers. Great example of what's happened in music.

  2. When I initially heard the news, I was somewhat disappointed. As an unpublished, unagented author, there are a limited amount of print publishers willing to take submissions. I also felt bad for those I know who currently have releases coming out from Dorchester, one of which I have pre-ordered.

    As a business person, I fully understand their decision to move to the digital format. When you look at the bottom line, digital, as you stated above, is a more profitable model for both the publisher and the author.

    As I learn more about e-pubs, they become a more viable option. I still have some fears about e-publishing. Mainly, because many of the publishers are new and do not have a proven track record of financial stability. With most businesses failing in the first 2 - 3 years, it's difficult for me to feel confident trusting my book with someone in the first year or two of business. And I have yet to see great marketing tactics from e-pubs. I have no problem marketing myself, but if the publisher is getting 60% of the revenues from my sales, they need to have a thorough marketing plan that will help boost my sales. I'm also looking at the varying differences in the quality of the books that are released by different e-pubs.

    I am a digital girl. I've moved to purchasing many of my books in e-format. I absolutely think that e-publishing is a great business model. I hope that they (e-pubs) will continue to tighten up their business models, develop better marketing plans, and focus on putting out a quality product. There are some out there doing it well, and some who are giving e-publishing a bad name. Change is hard, but not impossible. It's time for us to embrace the digital world.

    Sorry for the comment that turned into a new post.

    By the way... Love Rebecca Leigh's work.

  3. I hope you're right. When I see the big guns moving into the e-pub domain I get worried that small indies will have a hard time fighting such well heeled competetion. But if it works out like digital files in the music industry, hopefully all of us will benefit from taking out the middle man.

  4. Nice post. I'm loving watching this whole thing unfold. It's like a good apocalypse movie. Hey- you might find funny a blog post I did a while back that dovetails with this issue. It's called Bookstore Snobbery and the End of Literature.