With the ongoing news of the major publishing houses cleaning house, most recently Harper Collins, and all the restructuring, what personal changes have you seen as either an author or publisher?
Would love to hear your personal stories from the trenches.

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Amazon is great! Amazon is not going out of their way to undercut the publisher, it is the Marketplace sellers-- that is what I said. Many times it is uncertain where these sellers have obtained the title(s) to begin with.
On my Amazon pages, they list new and used offers (from $ ?) directly below the regular price, and do so again in the right hand margin. Both are clickable and take you to a list of offers, starting with the lowest. Each of these can be ordered directly (with a single click if you're a regular customer). My guess is that most customers would at least check this out. And as you suggest that we should sell cheaper books, this is where a lot of sales take place.
Young people, from my experience, are more than willing to pay $20 for the Stephanie Meyer books, Harry Potter, $10 for Manga etc. I do not believe the cost of a book plays into the young persons desire to read.
"One of the other big issues in genre, especially (and crime in particular) is the aging demographic: we really do have to figure out how to reach younger readers, or the industry will die a slow but certain death."

SFWA has been talking about this and working on it for years. I think it must be a cross-genre problem. You're lucky if you see anyone under forty at a convention any more.
How long ago was it that publishers were mostly bought out by multinationals? Twenty years? Whenever it was that's when profit margins went from 5% to 10%. But it's entirely possible that the book business just can't generate 10% profits. So, it won't be a bad thing when those companies get out of the book business and it goes back to being run by people who name their companies after themselves.

I was at Harcourt when they "merged" with Houghton-Miflin. It was really two text book companies taken over by a software company and the adult trade fiction line wasn't even a consideration. So, my story from the trenches is that I had two books come out in the middle of that and I doubt they even ended up in stores. One of those books is a hardcover and although Harcourt still own the trade paperback rights they have no plans to publish it in that format. And like Jon says, you can look it up on Amazon and right there on the page where the new one is out of stock, they'll hook you up with a used copy.

I've landed at St. Martins/Thomas Dunne (see, a guy's name on the company) and it seems like a very good fit. They certainly seem interested in selling novels.

Some technology changes will help, I think. I'm a little more optimistic than Jon that consumers of books - especially novels - will be a little different than consumers of three minute pop songs. Also, I'm hoping that e-book buyers won't freak out so much about copy protection because the books have dedicated readers and don't need to be "viewed" on a number of formats by a single owner, so it shouldn't be such an issue. I wish the readers and the books were cheaper.

POD might also make it easier on publishers to have books in stock and level the playing field a little between those multinationals and smaller publishers. We'll see.
John--congrats on landing at St Martin's--they are, indeed, interested in publishing novels. A fine thing. Got to disagree with you on electronic publishing, though--when the CD and the DVD came out, they both required dedicated readers, too—then computer companies started putting CD and DVD readers/burners in their machines and that was pretty much all she wrote. If electronic books become popular, someone will figure out a way to rip and distribute them as manageable files playable on multiple platforms. There's already an iPhone app that's a book reader; how long before Amazon licenses the Kindle software and allows direct downloads of Kindle books to your iPhone? Like, a week, I'm guessing. Then all hell breaks loose. I'm not pushing my agent to sign a deal with Kindle; not on anything currently in print.
I guess I see everything through my old eyes - the screen on the Sony e-reader and the Kindle is a completely different technology than a computer monitor or a phone. I can read a book on an e-reader but I can't on a monitor.

What you say may become true if computer monitors and phones start to use the e-ink technology - or certainly for young adult novels, kids can read computer screens all day. A guy like Cory Doctorow gives away the electronic versions of his books, sort of using the internet as a library, and still sells traditional books. But they are young adult books.

Although books and pop songs are quite different animals I think now that better price points have been realized for music online sales are doing pretty well. the same may hold true with e-books. Some people will get pirate versions the same way some people shoplift from bookstores today, but if an electronic version of a book is easily available for a few bucks most people will probably acquire it legally. At least for adult books. Maybe....
Look, in this area of high-tech, the cost of a book should be going down. You see falling prices in cars, in electronics, in computers. But you're not seeing books becoming cheaper. I agree whole-hearted with the idea of making a book cheaper, and more people will read.
I also think POD printing is going to get big boost out of this. The idea of printing thousands of copies of books only to have them sit in a warehouse is ludicrous. Nissan and Toyota and Honda make a killing on their cars because they use a part when they need it--and are supplied with parts when they need it---not store thousands of parts they may never use. The same can be true in the book business.
Finally there's this point. Giant publishing houses are dinosaurs that have very slim profit margins to live on. And the bigger they get, the smaller the profit margins. Conglomerates like Harper and Penguin are killing themselves because they can't reduce costs due basically to their size. Just like someone who is 150 pounds overweight is 'obese' so are the giants in the publishing industry. We all know dinosaurs refused to adapt to changing times. We are seeing that today. They're dying because, down deep in their hearts, they really don't want to make the changes that will distrub their comfort zones.
But Linton, if it looks like that where would you plug in the ...........never mind.
It was only a matter of time before they developed a 3D porn viewing device...
Are you talking about this?

(sorry....)
Helicopter pilots have been using a similar technology for a number of years now. It's all on the helmet visor. They even have look and shoot armament systems now.

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