For the longest time I made it a point to keep my eye on the publishing industry. Besides keeping up with the GalleyCat and Publishers Weekly feeds in my Google Reader, every Monday, like clockwork, I checked out the new fiction reviews from PW, seeing what was getting the starred reviews and who was publishing them and the type of books they were, etc. Then every Saturday, like clockwork, I would check out the New York Times Bestseller list for fiction, both hardcover and paperback (trade and mass market) to see what was selling and who was publishing them and the type of books they were, etc. And I don't know when it happened, but over the past few months I slowly stopped checking until I can't really even remember the last time I checked on either of those two things (the PW reviews mostly because now you need to be a subscriber to view them online). Why? Well because my focus has gone less from traditional publishing to more independent publishing or -- should I say it? -- self-publishing.
The reason for this is because I've come to see it as a more viable source of income. Currently I'm averaging about 40 ebook sales a day. That's not a lot compared to some of the heavy hitters out there, but they do add up. And hopefully with the more novels I release in the next year, that number will increase. Of course, the number could decrease or it could stay the same or whatever else, but the fact is Borders, once a major book retailer, is now gone forever and, despite what the naysayers will tell you, ebooks are in fact here to stay.
Yesterday The Wall Street Journal ran this article about the new economics of publishing in which they talk about publishers reducing advances, slimming print runs, and cutting fixed costs to reflect the new marketplace:
The economics of the book business are changing so rapidly the industry barely looks like it did just six months ago.
The era of the book superstores, with their big windows and welcoming tables stacked high with books, has gone into decline. Many of the country's most enthusiastic readers have already switched to less-costly digital books. Amazon customers now buy more Kindle titles than hardcovers and paperbacks.
Divining the profitability of a book is a mysterious art. But basic book economics suggest an e-book is more profitable than a hardcover, even at substantially lower consumer prices, due mostly to the inventory and return costs associated with physical books.
At least 80% of all books purchased are still physical copies, however, which means that publishers must still pay legacy costs at the same time as building their e-book business.
Yes, currently only 20% of the market is digital, but here is their projected growth.
And as digital copies go up, what must come down?
That's right, print copies.
Not that print copies aren't a good thing because there are still a lot of readers out there who prefer print over digital. I'm not saying that print will eventually disappear completely. It won't. But digital will, at some point, become the majority. It's all part of the adaptation of the marketplace and, also, of the reader.
But do you know what's amazing?
Last week Simon & Schuster inked a deal with John Locke to distribute his novels in print. Yes, he's the guy who sold over one million ebooks in five months, so of course a publisher would want to snap him up. But Locke, being the smart guy he is, is not giving up his digital rights. He knows the power of ebooks. So does S&S. But they want to make some money, even a little, and so they're going to distribute his novels in paperback ... even as Locke continues to sell his ebooks at 99 cents.
Again, it all comes down to adaptation.
This isn't some Kool-Aid, kids.
This is the real deal.