Amanda Mariel on the future of publishing

posted in: Audio Books, Books, Uncategorized | 16

Amanda Mariel here, talking about the future of publishing and more specifically eBooks. I have read several articles about this in the past week or two and coupled with the announcements that Samhain and Nook UK eBook store will be closing it is heavy on my mind. I think I have a unique perspective on all of this as I work as an editor for a large publisher, am an author, and also a reader of both eBooks and paperbacks.

Dollarphotoclub_102712732.jpgEvery article I read features someone sharing their own theory on the future as well as what they think is currently going wrong for publishers. Two of the more popular theories seem to be: 1. Indie publishing is killing publishing houses. And 2. Readers are feed up with eBooks that are not up to par. I disagree on both counts!

Let me start with number one: Indie is the death of publishers. NO it is not! But I do think indie publishing is reshaping the face of publishing. Indie authors are savvy people. They are also brave to forge ahead on their own without a publisher backing them. Many indieโ€™s are doing very well, hitting bestseller lists and amassing large fan bases. But there are also many authors out there who are not comfortable with going it alone. These authors will continue to turn to publishers.

What does it all mean? How will it affect the landscape of publishing? I have asked myself these questions and this is my theory. We will continue to see small publishers fall and perhaps even a couple more of the larger ones. We will also continue to see new small presses opening but I do not think any of them will last. The publishers that remain in the long run will be the big guys who have something to offer their authors beyond editing, formatting, and a cover. As the smaller publishers die out we will see more and more indie authors taking the field. Eventually it will all smooth out and we will be left with big publishers and indie authors. On a side note-Amazon is not going anywhere. They will continue to evolve and dominate the eBook industry.

WP_20160307_11_34_17_Pro.jpgNow for number two: Readers are sick of eBooks and ready to embrace print again due in large part to quality issues. Again, I disagree! Readers are smart and adaptive. They have learned how to spot eBooks that are not up-to-snuff. Things like cover art, formatting, and editing all point to a books quality and readers know how to weed through them. They can preview a books first chapter or so on most retailers to look at formatting and get a sample of the editing. Covers are the first thing readers see when they look at a book promotion or page. Reviews also help readers to some extent in determining a books quality.

EBooks are not going away. In fact, I believe they are only going to continue to be in demand. That said print books are not going away either. We are and will continue to see them regain popularity for some time. Eventually it will all level out just as the publishing industry will. When it does we will be left with a great variety of print and eBooks. Many savvy authors are already diversified offering eBook, print, and in many cases audio editions of their books. This will continue because readers drive the market-not publishers and not authors. Readers enjoy several formats and to be competitive the smart publishers and authors provide that variety.

I would love to hear your thoughts and predictions. Leave them as a comment and letโ€™s talk!

 

Follow AmandaMariel:

Amanda Mariel dreams of days gone by when life moved at a slower pace. She enjoys taking pen to paper and exploring historical time periods through her imagination and the written word. When she is not writing she can be found reading, crocheting, traveling, practicing her photography skills, or spending time with her family. Amanda lives along the Lake Huron shoreline in northern Michigan with her husband and two kids. She holds a Master of Liberal Arts Degree with a concentration in literature and has a long-standing love affair with sugary junk food.

16 Responses

  1. I can’t speak for the demise of Samhain. But, I think BN failed to keep up with ereaders when they kept repackaging the Nook. Kindle is still around. It’s versatile–depending on which reader you buy–and I think it was always a better product. BN has steadily had problems trying to reinvent the Nook to compete with iBooks and Kindle. I think Nook’s problem was a BN problem. BN has more problems to overcome, so it was easy to rid itself of Nook to try and solve them.

    I think ebooks and print are both safe. I read both formats.

    As for indie… I write for an indie press and a small press. I think it can be a great way for an author to get started provided the author publishes quality work.

    Denise

    • I completely agree with you in regards to B&N. I have a Nook and I love it, but, I use the Kindle app on it more than the B&N store. When I purchase a new reader it will be a Kindle if for no other reason than I buy most of my books from Amazon. I also agree that small indie presses are a great place for writers to start. I started at one. However, I maintain that we will continue to see them fail. It is too hard for them to compete in the changing market. Samhain was actually a larger one with a great reputation and watching them close speaks volumes in my opinion.

  2. keleveque1

    Interesting perspective – and you’re right: Ebooks are NOT going away. They are, and continue to be, the wave of the future. In ten years, if that, I suspect even text books will be replaced by Ereaders for students. They can carry all of their books in one neat package!

    • eBooks as text books is already happening and I agree-it will continue. My kids school has iPads and already uses eBooks for some of their classes. I have read articles about other schools who assign/provide readers for every student and use eBooks for class. When I was completing my master degree I had eBooks for several classes. They are cheaper and more versatile.

  3. I agree with your thoughts on smaller publishers. They now have to compete with the big houses and the indie authors. We’re going to see a lot more of them disappear in the coming year.

    • I think the real wildcard in the future of publishing is the physical book stores. It will be interesting to see what happens there.

  4. allybroadfield

    Interesting post, Amanda. I agree for the most part. I think ebooks have leveled out and that they and print books will both be around for a long time. However, I do think that those smaller publishers who have savvy leadership will also survive. Perhaps they may even evolve into a niche markets by focusing on specific genres or audiences. Also, I think the NY publishers are going to continue to struggle until they change their mindset to adapt more quickly rather than stubbornly holding on to the way things were. One thing you didn’t discuss is bookstores. Of all of the changes in the industry, the future of brick and mortar stores scares me the most. Right now, we have a system where the NY publishers control the print books we see in stores. B&N, Costco, Target, and Walmart are the only options (unless you have an Indie bookstore nearby, but most of them don’t have the capital or space to keep a lot of books in stock), so we really only have access to a very small percentage of the books available, and must shop online if we want something different. It’ll be interesting to see if Amazon continues to expand into physical stores, and if so, what books they’ll stock.

    Technology will continue to grow and change, and everyone who wants to survive in this industry will have to be willing to constantly adapt to stay relevant.

    • I agree 100% on the brick and mortar. And it is so up in the air that I have zero predictions on the future in that regard. I do hope that we see a strengthening of physical stores and that we see more indie author books showing up in them. You are right in saying adaptation is the key to success in the publishing industry.

  5. Interesting post. I have to say I agree with most of what you say. I do think that small publishers will still flourish if they are niche publishers for example the several small publishers in NC who publisher NC related books and history books and those……….I don’t see them going anywhere. I also don’t see Indie going anywhere. There’s a freedom to Indie publishing that’s missing in other areas of publishing. And more and more we want our freedom. That said I still think the big ones will stay put, for one there are certain genres, research books for example that just don’t work as well in ebook for most of us. I still buy all research books in print, I may get them in ebook if they are free, but otherwise I’m going to purchase them in print. And there are still readers such as my husband who just prefers knowing he can hit the bookshelf and find the book he wants.

    I think the thing that will change is how readers find the next read. And new authors will face a struggle being seen. Reviews will always play a part, as will word of mouth. There is no better advertising for ANYTHING than someone say “oh you have got to try this…………” be it a book, a food, a store, whatever the best advertising will always be a fan. But I think that getting your book on lists is going to be harder, partly because I don’t think lists take all reading options into account. And readers will always love a library. So I don’t seem them going anywhere, they may have to evolve with the world but they won’t leave.

    Just my thoughts,
    WendyK

    • Wendy,

      You have some great thoughts! I agree that it will continue to get harder for new authors. I think all authors have to innovate to improve discoverability. Even authors with solid fan bases are always looking to reach new to them readers. You are correct in saying word of mouth will always be the best advertising and I think the key to that is two fold: write great books and interact with fans.

  6. Great post, Lady Amanda! I have to say that from what I’ve seen, the problem with traditional pubs, and I’m talking about the BIG 5 or 6, is that they identify the marketability of a trend only after they’ve seen it work elsewhere. By then, it’s too late to try and hit a niche. What I’ve seen and heard: we can’t sell a book like that, no one will buy a book like that, and the ever tried and true, it’s too hard to market a book like that, we don’t know where it will fit. And then… ta da! Those particular authors put out their books and created a market and INVENTED a trend that readers devour, leaving the BIG 5 or 6 scratching their heads.

    With big bucks at stake, bigger publishers aren’t willing to take a chance on a newbie author or “different” genres or trends. Not being trailblazers, they fail to recognize that readers will always WANT and NEED new material to read. Just as readers will always read, no matter if they are reading ebooks or print books. Readers read. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Cue the demise of many publishing houses because they aren’t willing to take chances or they do and the marketability doesn’t pan out. Or for whatever reason they tire of the business.

    B&N doesn’t take chances and therefore the quality of the Kindle far outshone the Nook. I have both. And to be honest, I forget I’ve got books on my Nook reader because I access those Nook books via other venues: phone and tablets using my downloaded aps because it’s easier. Also Kindle offers video and access to the Internet. (If Nook has added those since the last time I used my reader, forgive me for speaking out of turn.)

    I hate to see B&N close their UK Nook store. Instead of doing that, why aren’t they trying to put into action the wonderful accessibility the Kindle has? I get that it’s hard to compete with Amazon. So many have taken on the fight and lost. But I really think there are people who prefer the Nook to the Kindle so I’m sad for them to see this store go.

    Per traditional pubs, again if they aren’t willing to take chances and stop putting out the same old, same old, they are going to perish in a global meteoric dynoplosion. (Like that word? Pirate!) The great thing about Indie authors is they CAN put out stories from the heart that they love to write and attract readers who want DIFFERENT, exciting, uplifting, sensual, intriguing stories they don’t get anywhere else. AND they don’t have to give up the lion’s share to do it.

    I heard an author once tell me she’d sell her soul to publish with a certain big publisher. I winced. NEVER sacrifice yourself just to fit a niche. Write books that inspire you for surely they will ensnare readers’ hearts too.

    Huzzah and Hoorah for books and stories that hit our ereaders and stores of many shapes and sizes!!!

    • I think you wrote a blog post of your own, Katherine! LOL. I agree that the big guys are often late to catch the wave of new trends. I do think that this is changing. Some of the big guys now have smaller arms. For example Kensington has Lyrical. I suspect the big publishers will use their smaller arms to take more chances. These are savvy business people and they know they must evolve. Just my opinion! As for indie-I LOVE being indie. It is fabulous to hold my own reins ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Yeah. Too much caffeine this morning made me crazy. Lol!!! Great point about the smaller arms! Avon Impulse is one of those too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Publishing is moving from a retailer to an eTailer model. Convenience and price is driving this – I want a book now and I can get them as eBook for a good price. It’s becoming a direct marketing game. Those publishers that can build large databases (why is it only bookbub who can do that and who may buy them?) will survive – it’s now a direct marketing model versus a retail model. Authors need to build their database so they too can build relationships with their readers. I don’t think books or eBooks are going away. Look at the music industry – it’s been totally changed and it’s a struggle to make a living. But then it’s always been a struggle to make a living from your art unless you’re one of the lucky top sellers….

    • Pricing is a whole new topic! Don’t get me started there. LOL. I do agree with the direct marketing and think an authors biggest tool is a combination of their mailing list and effective cross promotion.

  8. I read this blog post again and it makes so much sense. Just like in stocks, I’ve always thought that a successful way to navigate the constantly changing publishing waters would be to put one foot in a publisher and one foot in Indie. I agree with Ally that there may be some advantages to the small publishers in that they can shift much more quickly to market demand than the larger houses. It just takes having some savvy leadership to anticipate which winds of change to give into. I think at one point it will come down to overhead. The digital world has allowed large scale operations to run without centralizing locations, which makes publishers able to operate without having one set location. I’m also excited to see how much knowledge is being shared. Ten years ago, I don’t remember seeing much about becoming a writer outside of books – now there’s tons of authors freely sharing their learning and notes from their own journeys. It’s a great time to be a writer – a little anxiety ridden, but excited to see what comes next!