Friday, May 20, 2011

Publishing worlds in collision

I've been chronicling the rapid, cataclysmic changes in the publishing industry for some months (scroll down here, and also check out the back entries in my Facebook page). But as the traditional book business disintegrates, many behind-the-scenes battles between the various factions -- traditional ("Legacy") publishers vs. self-publishing ("indie") authors, ebooks vs. print books, authors vs. their publishers and agents, online retailers vs. bookstores, etc. -- are now emerging into public view as open warfare.

The latest skirmish? Self-publishing guru Joe Konrath has accepted a deal with Thomas & Mercer -- a mystery-and-thriller imprint just launched by Amazon -- to issue a print-book edition of his new novel, Stirred. This has some independent bookstores (which regard online retailer Amazon as a threat to their survival) up in arms. Konrath writes about it here:
It's come to my attention that on a Yahoo group for booksellers there has been a call to boycott Amazon's new Thomas & Mercer imprint. I signed with Thomas & Mercer for STIRRED, the eighth Jack Daniels novel, co-written with Blake Crouch (who will chime in on this topic after me).

I've also heard that certain booksellers want to return any books of mine they have in stock as a punitive measure.

So signing a deal with Amazon makes me the enemy of bookstores?

Me, who has signed at over 1200 bookstores? Who has thanked over 1500 booksellers by name in the acknowledgements of my novels? Who has named five major characters in my series after booksellers?

Now I'm the bad guy, for wanting to continue my series and make a living?
Konrath and co-author Crouch offer a lengthy response at the link, advising independent bookstores about some of the steps they must take if they hope to survive in the new digital age. It's worth reading, not only as a heads-up about emerging trends, but as a microcosmic example of what happens whenever an Establishment confronts innovations that threaten their once-comfortable status quo.


Anonymous said...

I'm baffled as to what the point of these new Amazon publishing imprints are for authors.

Bookstores, whether Indie or B&N, would be loath to stock you, unless you are huge - and even then they are unlikely to push you.

Seems much more sensible to stick with POD.

A very strange move to go from selfpublishing to Amazon imprint by Konrath.

Robert Bidinotto said...

I'm not sure. Konrath has great instincts and decades of experience. I know that Amazon offered him great terms, too.

Frankly, I'm glad that Konrath and others like him are ready to experiment, testing the waters for the rest of us. If this doesn't pan out for him, that's one option for us to rule out. If it does, then it's another one for us to consider. To me, the Self-Publishing Revolution is all about options for authors.

One thing I do know: POD publishing is making far less money for most authors than are ebooks. So, as long as bookstores are still around and well-stocked, They're a viable venue for authors trying to make a living. If Amazon can get books placed there, more power to them, and to the authors they place. We'll all wait and see how this experiment pans out.