The Storyteller

Icon

She who tells the best story wins.

The Future of Book Publishing

In this weekend’s New York Times Magazine, Deborah Solomon interviews Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. This exchange from the Q & A is great and neatly illuminates the real seismic shift that is coming to book publishing:

JEFF BEZOS: We also have a self-service platform where small publishers or even self-published authors can put their books on themselves.

DEBORAH SOLOMON: How does that work?

JB: Basically you submit the book, you set the price for it, we charge the customer and then we give you 35 percent of the revenue.

DS: And Amazon keeps 65 percent? That sounds like a lot.

JB: Does it? You’re an author, what does your royalty check look like? Are your royalties 35 percent?

DS: No. Let’s not have that conversation.

JB: O.K., I think we’re done.

I think the future of book publishing looks more like movie-making where a group of people (writer, editor, publicist, and so on) sign on for a project, get it financed and sell it. Publishing houses still exist, but in very different form than we know them today. They are more like modern movie studios and exist mainly to provide distribution and sales support. The good news for writers is they will have a lot more control over their destinies and will realize a lot more of the revenue from their work. The bad news, for many, is they will need to take responsibility for their own success. Unlike some pundits, I think this points to a real future for smart literary agents. The best agents will morph themselves into producers who can help talented writers get financing and find the best editors, marketers and publicists to work with. Since many writers aren’t naturally good at promoting themselves this will be an important role in a brave new publishing world and one that many agents could excel at.

Advertisements

Filed under: Media & Publishing

One Response

  1. […] As I wrote before, I think the future of publishing puts writer’s in the driver’s seat.  I think it will work a bit like the movie business.  The writer, probably working with and agent, will get financing for a project and will assemble a team of people to bring that book into the world.  Publishers might play a role in marketing and distribution — the way studios do for movies — but possibly not.  I think they will have to think much more radically about their role — and the way books are funded and who gets what piece of the profits — if they are going to survive. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: