Literary Famine

Posted: March 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

We’ve all read various blog posts about the new age of publishing. Internet users have access to an endless stream of information and entertainment, good and bad. I keep seeing statements about filtering out self-published titles from those of “reliable” publishers. Really? Does the publishing world expect to survive by sheer snobbery alone?

Business models and traditional marketing methods used by publishers for centuries have been turned on their sleeping heads while ballsy start-ups take the world by storm. Writers are becoming published authors with the click of a mouse and a URL. Some of these self-confident individualists are actually grabbing the Brass Ring and winning. All of this is a Darwinian wet dream. Some dinosaurs will ignore the changes while they wait for destruction. Some will diversify and survive. It’s that simple. Coca-Cola diversified but kept the original formula as a foundation to fuel growth.

Today’s big publishing houses are at a crossroads. Adapt or become extinct. How has the publishing industry responded to the changing market? By playing the blame game. The problem is, they can’t decide who to blame.

I buy eggs from a local farmer. New chickens lay eggs. Old chickens become stew. To sustain his future business he reserves some of the eggs and hatches them. He nurtures them through hatching and their painful awkward weeks until they become egg layers. This is called a sustainable marketing plan.

The Big Six (or Big Five) are too reliant upon their old chickens. But what about tomorrow? What about ten years from now? Who do they blame for their inevitable failure? The chicken or the egg? Sure, a few bad eggs can impact future growth. But what happens if you never hatch any of them?

Back to my local farmer. He sells organic eggs for $1.20 a dozen. Cheap Cheap. The local market sells them for up to $5.00 a dozen. He sells about 20 dozen eggs a day compared to less than three dozen at the local market. Why is the farmer doing so much better? It’s not just pricing. It’s the fact that I can order my eggs and they’re delivered to my door. They come in various sizes and shades of brown, but they’re still just eggs. I’m getting the same thing from the little egg that I do from the big one.

I’m happy to see publishers opening new e-book divisions and publishing up to sixty books a year. They could do more. They could nurture today’s eggs into becoming something positive. Something nourishing.

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