Skip to comments.Book Publishing Needs Socialism to Save It ("need" to suppress competition like France does)
Posted on 07/27/2014 2:24:07 PM PDT by ransomnote
Book Publishing Needs Socialism to Save It
Let me just state up front that I love America and wouldnt live anywhere else but, I also believe theres room for a blend of socialism and capitalism to exist in a democratic society, and when it comes to how books are sold or treated, I prefer what the French and other advanced nations do.
They protect books and the printed word. I applaud themand so should you.
Here in the U.S., thanks largely to Amazon, books have become commoditized. You can buy clothes based on priceor a desk or the hotel you vacation at. But books should not be purchased based on price alone.
Sure price is a factor. One may buy a used book vs. a new one, to save money. Others will buy a paperback rather than the higher-priced hardcover. But when books become so devalued and sell at a loss, you have to question how such pricing helps the long-term viability of books.
In the U.S. it seems the publishing market is ruled by one companyAmazonand five major conglomerate publishersand one physical retailer (Barnes & Noble). When Amazon makes a change, the publishing industry trembles and acquiesces.
But the Hatchette-Amazon battle is now being waged and the repercussions of it could dictate the fate of publishings long-term viability. However, in other countries, books are a much healthier product.
In France, where Amazon only owns 10-12% of the book marketbut 70% of online sales, Amazon is contained because of laws passed to protect and support bookstores and publishers.
The law says online sellers cant offer free shipping on discounted books. Further, booksellers cant offer more than a 5% discount off a books cover price.
(Excerpt) Read more at bookmarketingbuzzblog.blogspot.com ...
At present, publishing is in an upheaval with the traditional "Big 5" publishers losing market share to self-publishing (often via Amazon self publishing wing). Old media is demanding that things go back to the way they were.
Oh, I DEFINITELY stopped right there.
...so this person wants to take Karl Marx’s Socialist theory, which says that Capitalism is evil and needs to be destroyed and “blend” it with a free market?
Maybe we can try some Nazism to help the Jewish community too...
restrict competition and raise prices are touted as a good thing?
.that’s about where I dropped out too ...
Everything is "me to kilo" (by the Kg).
The losers from "protectionism" are you and I, the consumer with higher prices, fewer choices, and less than maximum quality. We are also losers in the overall economy which always underperforms when government effectively implements price (and wage) controls.
<>”Big 5” publishers losing market share to self-publishing . . . <>
I didn’t know that. Please elaborate.
Just shows that socialists like this clown are luddites and stuck in the past.
I find this sort of “reasoning” so alien.
“ In Germany, books cant be discounted. In fact, six of the 10 biggest book-selling countries have versions of fixed book pricesJapan, Italy, Spain, South Korea, Germany, and France.”
The author calls it a “touch of socialism”???
And this...”To preserve the value of books, we must take the finances out of the equation.” Would the word “finances” be replaced with “discounts”?
According to Publisher's Weekly, book sales in 2013 topped $15.05 billion. So, there's obviously a gigantic market for them. If books themselves are being sold at a loss, I'm sure some enterprising fellow or company will come up with a way to make them profitable, especially in such a huge sales market.
To sum up, this writer is a tool and should be shot.
This guy acts like all books are equal. Some books are crap and deserve the bargain bin.
The guy would probably say that all books are equal, but some are more equal than others.
Marginal costs of publication have been reduced to zero by the new business model based on electronic media.
Another union goon wanting government to protect his turf.
The price of books is just plain absurd!
After paying 36 dollars for a book on how to learn Photoshop back around 2001, I swore off buying retail. Not worth it.
Thank goodness for garage sales, or else I wound never buy any.
The information you request is diffused throughout the websites I’ve been reading.
Hugh Howey, an author, working with one or more data geeks collected information off of Amazon’s websites, used the ranking of the book to determine sales of the book (supposedly how Amazon ranks books - sales) along with publisher and price for 120,000 top selling books and has crunched numbers. I
n general, his report suggests self publishers/indie publishers have gained surprising market share and self-published authors are making more money (70% of book price via Amazon) than traditionally published authors (17% of book price via publisher) unless you are talking about the Stephen King or James Patterson sized mega author. The primary gain in market share is e-books because self-publisher can’t get the price down on print copies the way the big publishers can but the “little” author or indie publisher doesn’t have to pay for warehousing or shipping of print copies.
Hugh Howie is the face of the “Author Earnings Report”
This latest updated report has once again caused a commotion. The old media deride it as “lies, filthy lies” but so far it seems to hold up. A blogger tested the waters by asking readers to post a comment in a piece called “Indie Authors Quitting Their Day Jobs” was surprised at the number and positive quality of information people posted.
Note I have mashed the words “indie” and “self” publishers together as I can’t recall the specific numbers each earned but in general - both gained market share over the Big 5 and the traditional publishers are freaked out and denying the report could be accurate.
However, in other countries, books are a much healthier product.
Many products and services can and should compete, in part, on price, but I believe staunchly that books cannot be commoditized. To preserve the value of books, we must take the finances out of the equation.
He makes these three completely unsupported assertions upon which he bases his entire argument.
Unlike most other products, books are a commodity. The copy of a certain book I buy from Amazon, Booksamillion, Barnes & Noble, from any other bookstore or direct from the publisher is exactly the same (with the possible exception of shelf wear). This can't be said for most other items including the clothes, desk or vacation hotel he specified.
In fact, the author's exact same arguments could be made by sellers of clothes, desks or hotel rooms that they shouldn't be subject to competition or discounting. I'm sure that clothes sellers would say that clothes are even more important than books and therefore clothes stores should be protected.
After reading this it seemed familiar. Then I realized it sounded awfully like Ayn Rand's character Balph Eubanks from Atlas Shrugged.
"It would work very simply," said Balph Eubank. "There should be a law limiting the sale of any book to ten thousand copies. This would throw the literary market open to new talent, fresh ideas and non-commercial writing. If people were forbidden to buy a million copies of the same piece of trash, they would be forced to buy better books."Limit sales and restrict customer choice in order to allow unsuccessful competitors to stay in the market at the expense of both the consumers and their more successful competition (along with the tax payers because such restrictions are usually one small step from subsidies).
Yes. I do sense that all this back flipping is to “protect” unwanted books written by untalented authors. Or perhaps well written books on unwanted topics.
There’s no awareness on the part of the blogger that keeping prices high reduces the number of books sold. The consumer’s wallet is often not as elastic as the socialists would like.
I love the used books on Amazon. I've gotten a couple that were rated a little high (very good instead of good condition), but I've had more that were in better condition than stated. When you get a $50 book for $10 including shipping you know you've gotten a deal. It used to be that you would have to scrounge around local used book stores to find an out of print book or cheap copy of a book still in print (and usually not find it), but now you can search the entire country at one shot.
People who can’t compete desire socialism to keep their failed business practices afloat. I am a self-publisher, so I do have a dog in this fight, and let me explain what the fight is about:
How much of a customer’s money goes to who.
Before Amazon and their opening of Kindle Direct Publishing, if a customer bought a book, the profits from that purchase were split between the retail store, the publisher, and the author.
The publisher had to pay their editorial staff, their cover designers, their formatters, the cost of printing, and the author. Often authors received contracts where they would be given a stipend (called an advance in the industry) that would be payed off their royalties. Once an author had “earned out” their advance, they would be given royalty checks based upon further sales.
Most of the time an author did not earn out their advance because their royalties were often 5 to 15% of the net profit of the publishing house. When you realize that agents were required and they took 15% off the top of any advance or royalty from an author, you can see why many authors wrote as much as they could around their full time job.
Enter self-publishing. Now I pay my editor, my cover designers, and my formatters. Some of the work I do for myself (like formatting), other work I can trade out or hire for a competitive price.
I get 70% of books sold at $2.99 or more, and Amazon gets 30%.
What does this mean for consumers? Cheaper books.
What does this mean for authors? More profit.
What does this mean for editors and cover designers? More customers (as more people can self-publish than publishing houses would, or could, take on.)
Who are the only losers in this system? Publishers who have not changed their business models and agents who are not needed to arrange for contracts between authors and publishers.
So who is screaming for socialism over capitalism? Publishing houses, agents, and authors who cling to the old system because it kept them at the top of the heap.
My latest book is killing most of the just released big 5 books in the Amazon rankings.
Why? Because for just a few dollars I am getting people a great read. And you know how many people look for a publishers mark before they buy a new book? None.
I can one up this dolt. Everyone should get free books, whatever they want. Profit is evil. You should work for free. Quit being selfish. You didn’t build that book. Other people helped. Other people printed it. /sarc
How did you get this deal from Amazon....?
I am in Amazon Advantage and Amazon takes 45% leaving me with 55%....my retail price is $17.95.
Is this for a paperback or e-book?
Through KDP (e-books) if you set your price between $2.99 and $9.99 you receive a 70% royalty rate. If it is under $2.99 or over $9.99, you receive a 35% royalty rate.
PS...I guess these are e-books.....mine are all perfect bound.
Yeah, for my paperbacks I make around 30% because I go through Createspace.
For me its like a labor of love...I work as a tanker truck driver...keeps me fit at age 72.
” their royalties were often 5 to 15% of the net profit of the publishing house. When you realize that agents were required and they took 15% off the top of any advance or royalty from an author”
Okay I didn’t know royalties to the author were 15% of NET and then the agent took 15% of that! I attended a talk by a NYT best selling author (non-fiction) wherein she said that she spent 30% of every work day promoting her book because the publisher doesn’t do any of that any more. She ruefully said she made “cents on the dollar” and when a self published author asked her a question she pointed to him and said “Look! He’s getting 70% of every dollar and I’m getting pennies of every dollar AND spending 30% of every work day pushing her books to make those pennies.
I read somewhere - about 2 years ago that the Big 5 were in a state of collapse and as it all falls down around them, they are racing to “secure” publishing from authors (i.e., they’ll own the rights even after all pretenses of “helping” the author market etc. have ended).
Very nice! I started self-publishing two years ago after I lost my job. Have put out 6 books and a bunch of short stories since then.
Whoa! Thanks for the info.
“Book Publishing Needs Socialism to Save It”
This is a super idea and is particularly relevant because newspaper publishing, CD makers and DVD makers are all also facing extinction today because of digital publishing and streaming. And just think, if socialism for buggy whips had been around at the turn of the 19th century, we’d still have plenty of buggy whip makers around even today. And don’t forget that power looms devastated the hand weaving industry even earlier. Linotype operators were thrown out of work, as were switchboard operators. Why the list is almost endless. And if we had JUST had socialism, we could have saved all of those industries and all of those jobs.
Buy copies of survival books, skill related books or politically incorrect titles via cash. Your purchase history isn’t tracked, and you own the work outright, versus Kindle copies that could be deleted off the device via DRM.
Is it the same man who wrote Wool?
I enjoyed your post.
I wonder how much of this bloggers “touch of socialism” request is a reaction to Hillary’s book ending up in the bargain bin while conservative books soar. Gotta hide that disparity right?
I’ll answer. Yes, Hugh Howey is not only an incredible writer, he is a tireless advocate for indie publishing, and he is one of the nicest people in the entire industry.
He does the research and compilation of data for free and posts it publically.
Thanks again.(your thread about publishing the other day)
I thank my local friends of the library, they have a book sale about every quarter. Once a year my girls and I load up on ~10 paper grocery BAGS for $3 each. I’m amazed at what I find.
You are very welcome!
The brilliant book publishing industry gave Hillrat $14 million for her bird cage liner/books by the pound project. What else needs to be said?
If Steven King, John Grisham, JK Rowling and a few others said “We don’t need publishers.” and decided to digitally distribute books for tablets only? The industry would implode within 5 years.
I feel absolutely no empathy for book publishers, none. For years and years they were an abysmal gatekeeper preventing new talent from coming to market. Worse than even the record companies, if you can imagine that.
When book retailers made a habit of hiding books the staff didn’t like, you know anything written by conservative author, I spit in their faces when it comes to cries about “Whoa is us! AMAZON IS TEH EVIL!”
The publishing industry and book retailers dug their own graves. LIE IN THEM!
And your analysis is accepted by most everyone here at FR until the protection from the government is called a “copyright” or a “patent” or “protection of intellectual property”, when all of a sudden, folks will jump up to defend life-of-author/artist plus 70 years, evergreening of drug patents, business-plan patents, pretending that algorithms are devices (and therefore patentable) rather than mathematical theorem, ... at which point calling something “property” makes it so, pro-business trumps pro-liberty.
Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution:
To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;
Sorry if you think the Constitution isn't pro-liberty enough for you.
No, it seems many on FR DON’T agree with the value of free trade over protectionism. A long discussion on this took place here...
As far as tariffs being equivalent to patents, not really. The Constitution allows temporary patents for the promotion of Arts and Sciences. (”To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries” U.S. Const Art 1 Sec 8.)
That’s a lot different from tariffs lobbies to “protect” domestic business from competition.
Limiting letters patent to inventors and copyright to authors, as reforms in England not long before the American Founding had done, were part of what the Founders were getting at with that clause. I think they would appalled that the clause has in these latter days been used to justify laws under which a publishing house could prevent the use of a 1928 poem by a poet who died in 1968 as song lyrics in 2003. (I cite the case of Robert Frost's poem "Fire and Ice" the monopoly rights to which were held by Henry Holt & Co., who prevented them from being used as song lyrics by the neo-medieval band Unto Ashes, prompting them to replace the poem with a parody about failed royalty negotiations entitled "Flayed by Frost". The track Fire and Ice, which was released in Europe years earlier, finally was released in the U.S. in 2012.) This use of copyright -- the suppression of derivative works by publishers and literary estates -- is the antithesis of the Constitutional purpose of copyright.
The current state of the law is such that one would imagine the Founders has written a clause "to impede the progress of science and the useful arts, by securing for indefinitely extendible times to publishers and other commercial interests the exclusive right to the writings and discoveries of others."
It wasn’t until 1622 that England established copyright laws and it wasn’t until 1710 that the laws reflect much of what we understand as copyright laws.
The laws were not being relaxed in terms of copyrights, they were being strengthened in 1789 when the U.S. Constitution was being written. Jefferson and Franklin were both strong advocates of copyright laws in the colonies and later the United States.
The original length of copyrights were 14 years with another 14 to be applied for. However, throughout the 19th century, the move was toward more stringent protection of an artists or inventors works. The Constitution was not a loosening of copyright and patent laws, it was a step on the way of recognizing that people who do the work should own the fruit of that work.
And since the United States is a signatory of the Berne Convention now, that treaty has the same weight of law as the U.S. Constitution itself. (You can look that up in the Constitution. Article VI reads in part: This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land)
And where is the liberty in taking someone else’s work and making money from it? That doesn’t sound like liberty to me. It sounds like theft.
Very interesting. I just finished my first novel and have been in the process (beyond editing) of deciding the self publishing or lit. agent route. I already have my query done, but have yet to send the request. I wasn’t aware of the amz %’s, but understand the agent/pub. take.
I’m concerned w/ the self pub. course due to not having a fan base and being an unknown. Furthermore, I had concerns about exposure (options) for studio interest.
Any advice that you could offer me would be appreciated. (PM as I don’t want to hijack the thread)
That's because you've bought into the notion that ideas can be "property".
And, your history doesn't go back far enough. Before the Law of Queen Anne, it was normal for publishers to hold exclusive right, and before the Statue of Monopolies, letters patent were granted far and wide to non-inventors. The Constitution specified limits on who Congress could grant monopolies, which are now flouted with publishers, heirs, executors of literary estates holding monopolies when the author has been moldering in the grave for 70 years, and using them to suppress derivative works (e.g. "The Wind Done Gone" -- a retelling of "Gone with the Wind" from a slave perspective), performances of dances (cf. Martha Graham's artistic estate) or use of poems as song lyrics.
By your reasoning the Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis, Variations on a Theme of Paganini, and a host of other musical works using other composers' themes as starting points are "theft" (or at least become so if the composer of the new work or an orchestra performing it make money). Rubbish! That's how culture works: it builds on previous culture. Putting a rent-seeking heir or lawyer into the process is contrary to the expressed purpose of the Constitutional provision, to promote progress in the sciences and the useful arts.
Progress in my own field -- mathematics -- would grind to a complete halt if we had to pay royalties to other mathematicians and get permission from them (or their heirs or publishers) to use their definitions or theorems. To not be a "thief" (of honor for originating the idea, not of the idea, which is not something which can be stolen) consists in putting a citation to the paper the definition or theorem came from, and eventually, when the notion becomes well-known enough, even this lapses as the definition or theorem becomes part of the common patrimony of mankind. (Maybe the discoverer is honored with his or her name attached to the result, maybe not.)
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