In Germany, fixed-price laws curtail the power of retail chains and help to sustain a vibrant literary culture.
Author/futurist David Houle says:
“There were more books published this week than there were in all of 1950,” he said.
Houle told the room full of publishers that the physical book had a great run as an artifact, but encouraged them to embrace the current era of digital publishing to pave the way for future generations.
An anonymous insider at one of New York’s big six publishers thinks so. According to a letter posted on pandodaily, and headlined a “confession,” the biggest issue is not that Amazon has made publishing margins razor-thin, it’s that Amazon is now attempting to publish the bestsellers that “cover our fixed costs” itself.
As publishers, we love getting good blurbs for our authors. At their most basic, they’re a simple marketing tool: for readers not familiar with an author, seeing a quote from another author they’re familiar with offers a way into a world they might not have exposed themselves to otherwise.
But there’s a trick to getting blurbs. It involves fostering the right relationships, leveraging contacts, calling in favors, and sometimes just plain extortion. Often enough, savvy readers understand this and no doubt many of them resist blurbs for just this reason.
Here is Mark Jude Poirier on blurbs:
A blurb from an author I actually know and dislike on a personal level—usually based on their abhorrent behavior in graduate school—means I will turn the book backward on the shelf in the bookstore or hide it under a stack of Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue.
A UK publisher’s lament: She loses more than £2 every time one of her books is sold on Amazon.
As Lynn Michell, publisher of the Scottish press Linen Press (“Great writing for women, by women”), explains in a commentary for the Guardian,
Amazon takes 60% of my RRP [cover price] (in the book trade, the bigger the sales outfit, the bigger the discount they demand from the publisher: Amazon 60%; Waterstones 50%; independent bookshop 35%). On a £11.99 book, Amazon’s takings are￡£7.20. Mine are £4.80.
Out of this comes £2.50 to pack and post the book to Amazon, and the author’s royalties on a heavily discounted book reduced to 50p. My writers lose out on an Amazon sale, too. That leaves 82p for Linen Press, but the book cost £4 to produce. So I lose £2.18 on every sale by Amazon.