Book Wars


With newspaper sales in fast decline as smart phones and tablets eat into sales, a new battle has begun. Recently rapacious Amazon started bypassing publishers and agents, and struck a deal for the exclusive digital rights to a hundred graphic novels by DC Comics, leading Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million to remove the novels from their shelves.

This is not unlike cinemas withdrawing films because distributors want to reduce windows between theatrical and home entertainment releases. And to be honest, many publishing houses could do with rethinking their business plans a bit. It’s painful to sit in meetings listening to talk of independent bookstores when so many people buy online.

But am I the only person who doesn’t think the sky is falling? Argument about formats is ultimately healthy.

What prevents Amazon from swallowing the world is a lack of spontaneity that means it must ultimately rely on a postman. What keeps certain publishers and bookshops in profit is their ability to provide direct touch-and-feel appeal – otherwise why aren’t we all buying everything online? And if the format shakeout changes business models, that could be a very good thing for us all.

One comment on “Book Wars”

  1. I.A.M. says:

    I actually predict that, in ten years, there will no longer be any publishers beyond the Simon & Shuster or Random House variety. Probably none much smaller than those behemoths. Amazon is increasingly making the publisher superfluous, and doing end-arounds to get authors directly involved with releasing their books through both the Kindle and Create Space programmes that make eBooks and true “print on demand” paperback editions of their books. Hire an editor, pay an artist for a cover image, maybe hire a marketing or PR person (depending on what your skill-set lacks), and you’re done!

    Seriously, authors no longer require publishers as of about three years ago, but the adoption rate hasn’t increased yet to the point of wild popularity.

    This will then result in the disappearance of all but the biggest bookstores, what with more and more of the authors releasing their books through the above methods.

    Change. It has a habit of changing things. In many ways you never expected.

Comments are closed.