Monday, 10 October 2011

Doomed, we are all doomed...

It is always easy to tell a Scotsman from a ray of sunshine, but two interesting statistics came up in discussion at the, sadly not very well attended, States of Independence (West) event in Birmingham on Saturday. The first was talking with a medium sized independent. They told me that they'd had some problems, including big returns, with a well known chain bookseller but they are now getting orders - a fraction of what they used to get, but now have to give 59% discount on standard stock. 59%? Add in the costs of representation, distribution and author royalties and the publisher is left with about £2.20 on a £9.99 book. Of course not every book printed sells, so allowing for returns and unsolds, the publisher is probably getting £1.50 a book. Now this is OK if you are printing tens of thousands and have the books typeset in India and printed in China, and can sell foreign rights. But that was not the case with this publisher. Looks like their business model is cracked.

But they have done pretty well with e-books... Later a writer announced that it is perfectly easy to crack the encryption in e-books that prevents the equivalent of file sharing. He said that as an experiment, he downloaded the complete text of the Booker prize longlist in half an minute, for free. So... soon all e-books will be free. Can't make money by printing books, can't make money by making e-books. There's not a lot left. But still, it was not such a bad day, the number of book sales was slightly higher than the number of manuscripts offered to us.... I rather fear that when the last publisher in the UK closes, attending the closing sale of the last bookshop, those attending the party will be mostly made up of people waving an unpublished manuscript, quite oblivious to everything else. Happy Monday.

4 comments:

battypip said...

So, are you a Scotsman or a ray of sunshine? I can't quite tell...

david said...

Actually it was the Booker prize longlist ie 10 books and it took 30 seconds at most, not 30 minutes. I should stress that I did this as an experiment: I don't own a kindle. Yet.

My take on the bookfair is at www.davidbelbin.com

J. David Simons said...

Should I go on writing my next novel or just take the last train for the coast?

Ross Bradshaw said...

Pip - if you don't know by now... David - thanks for the correction, I have amended the original. David (Simons), you can do both.