Another article was printed today in WSJ about the book business.
This article struck me though because it wasn’t the usual, “things are bad because no name are making money” kind of thing that I usually see.
This article was down to facts – and let’s face it, facts are important.
And some of these facts I saw were pretty intense. Intense for both sides of the coin for publishing.
In terms of ebooks, the growth expected is crazy. Talks of revenues hitting $3.6 billion by 2015. And just to give an idea of what that growth actually entails… there was a nice little graph in the article. For this year, 2011, ebooks are projected to hit a little of $1 billion. So that means in 4 years, the revenues will TRIPLE. Holy shit, triple! Pardon my French there, but wow, that’s real growth.
Now, whether these numbers include independent or small press books, I don’t know – and I don’t really care. What this means is that in 4 years, there will be MILLIONS of more ereaders on the market and MILLIONS of more readers out there looking for books. Will we as the “small guys” have to compete harder? Probably, but so what. I’ll put my $3.99 backlist up against anyone, any time. Because I’ll also have just as big of a backlist of $0.99 books available. And as the community of writers stayed close together, we all have a shot at getting to our dreams.
And please, let’s not forget that as authors are signing book deals now, they are calling the shots, not the other way around. Don’t believe me? Look into some of the recent deals… i.e. Locke, and anyone signing w/ T&M.
Other notes that made me go “WOW” were the following:
- Harper is closing two of its four warehouses
- Random House is looking to sublease 40% of its office space
Publishing are coming to terms with costs… and face it, paperback costs money. Even in our neck of the woods here, in the indie world, it costs money. I kill myself each time I try to figure out a plan for paperbacks.
Ebooks aren’t the future, they are the now. They’re just growing. All it takes it someone to hold an ereader one time to be hooked. Trust me, I was the guy who refused ereaders… until I took a little of last years left over xmas money and bought one. And I can say that it changed my life forever because the final piece of my person publishing puzzle came together.
The article also goes into the advance of a new book that’s supposed to be a hit. They paid the author $675,000. Good for the author, not for the publisher. Because of Border’s shutting down and the rise in ebooks, the print runs are lowering on books. This means for this new book, the publisher agreed for a 30k print run. They are charging $26 for a hard cover and if all 30k sell, the publisher only makes $390,000. NOW, if the book sells in comparison to others in terms of ebooks with a price of $13, the publisher can add another $197,500 to that number – meaning they still haven’t made back the advance.
This is how and why publishers lose money.
It’s simple math here.
And come on, $26 for a hard cover? $13 for an ebook?
But that’s the old system that’s crippling big publishers. Not to mention on the print runs, if they order less, they pay more for books… how?
Let’s say the printer charges $1.20 per book for the first 1,000. After 10,000 books, they drop the price to $1.10. After 40,000 they charge $0.80. See how the price goes down? The law of numbers, etc… but publishers can’t justify ordering massive amounts anymore because they don’t know what will happen. AND if this new best seller does clear out its 30,000 print, the company needs to order more. So they will end up paying more for the book per unit.
So what does this all mean for you?
This means if you’re sitting on a manuscript, get it done and out there. This means if you’ve been pissing around worrying about August’s sales (which I’ve been guilty for myself), stop worrying, and get the next project done. Get the books written, edited. Get them great covers, network your ass off, and get the books out there. Leave no stone unturned – bother every reviewer you find – secure guest posts – build traffic, build a network, build a fan base.
And just remember… predictions are showing that in just 4 years, the revenue of ebooks will TRIPLE. Read that again and again and again and again and again… TRIPLE. Triple the shot for you to get your books in that mix of revenue. And readers won’t be forced into paying $13 for your book, you’ll control the price. Mix that with a great cover, a nice backlist, and some honest reviews, and guess what? You’ll be right there. And I’ll be right there with you.