On 7 May I published a blog “Publishers Change or Perish” Changes are beginning to be reported. Among others who are beginning start-ups, John Oakes and Colin Robinson are reportedly launching OR Books this fall. It will be a Web-only publisher selling directly to consumers. They will publish only e-book and print-on-demand editions and will bypass the “returns” policy which has been so deadly to publishing houses world-wide. With this business plan they won’t have to share revenue with distributors, wholesalers or bookstores, which in the past have gobbled up as much as 60 percent of the retail price. OR Books will make some books available to bookstores on a non-returnable basis. YES!
In addition to other small start-ups beginning to be whispered, major houses are also beginning to look at ways to change their business model. One of the biggest reforms to be reported is taking place in Spain where three of the biggest publishers have joined forces to set up an eBook distribution company which they hope will set a new model for the market.
Who will win, who will lose, who will survive, yet to be seen, but changes are a-comin’.
One more word on changes needed in publishing. You hear a lot today about the demise of the print newspaper. Don’t believe it. We will always need and never lose the print newspapers. What we will lose, and happily so, are the large “news” corporations which spend their dollars paying dividends to shareholders who contribute nothing to real journalism. In fact the shareholder interests have often dampened journalistic excellence. Newspapers of the future will be smaller and privately owned, spending their dollars on good reporting, whether it is local or world-wide in scope. They will make up for the lack of a huge physical presence around the world, by smarter use of technology and the development of an association of good journalists.