Just read this article in Publisher's Weekly. If I was a tradtional publisher I think I'd start to get nervous. This has all the feeling of a small snowball rolling down a mountain side turning into a massive avalenche.
I think "hire" is the key word there, Jon. I don't see Amazon hiring any editors or designers or even marketing and promotion people. They'll leave all that up to the "sellers," which may continue to be publishers, it may be he authors themselves or some new kind of position may emerge.
Already some small presses are calling their editors "curators."
I think it depends on how the traditional publishers respond. It actually wouldn't suck, IMO, if tradpub had to rely less on blockbusters and more on promoting what's now the mid-list in order to make money. It would be nice if they had to court us instead of the other way around.
I agree completely Jack - you could interpret all this to mean that Amazon aims to eliminate publishers AND distributors and even agents...then they can afford to give authors REALLY high royalties because they're not sharing the pie.
We should ask Neil -- Would you go to Amazon for double your salary and the chance to publish any and ALL books you like?
Imagine the publicity for Amazon, and the chance to do it all...like Hallie says.
Then again, as turned out during the 2008 market crash, I might be missing something. Have to wait and see, but that's what I'd do if I was Amazon. The industry is burning, falling off in chunks. Grab for it all. :-)
My lack of regard for the business acumen of publishing houses is best in evidence by their reliance on blockbusters. While we're operating at admittedly small orders of magnitude, the constant re-alignment of the movie studios is due in large part to their reliance on the blockbuster model. It's great when it works, but if a big enough blockbuster fails, it takes the whole operation down with it.
I used to work for the pay phone division of Ameritech. We weren't sexy, but Pay Phone and residential brought in the regular cash flow that allowed the company to branch into the more high risk/high reward operations. That's been a model for all kinds of business for years, keeping something unglamorous but steady around so the lights would stay on no matter what other new ventures went belly up. Why this seems to be such a novel concept to publishers makes no sense at all.
There's a pair of Harvard Business School professors who argue the blockbuster mentality is here to stay, and that it makes more sense than any alternative. Interesting reading, but I'm not completely convinced.
Why do you think they keep guys like me around, Dana? We're low maintenance, we generate a steady revenue stream, and if we burn out or head for greener pastures there's a hundred more just like us trying to get a foot in the door. I've always thought this talk of burning the mid-list was silly: they can't do it, because we're the buffer that makes the blockbuster thing possible. Not saying they won't keep making it harder and harder for the midlisters to survive, but as long as there are writers out there basically willing to do it for free, the publishers have access to a virtually bottomless midlist labor pool at very low cost/risk.
Yes, and no one really knows where the blockbuster will come from. Here in Canada, in the movies and TV shows especially, we think we do. People say, 'In Hollywood they make ten pilots for every show that gets to air, and out of every ten shows that get to air only one is a hit,' and we actually have people here say, "Just make the hit one, then."
When you try and explain that you need to make them all - otherwise Hollywood wouldn't - they just look at you funny.
Sure, promotion helps, but something has to happen before promo gets applied to a writer and no one really knows what it is. All we know is that as soon as it looks like someone is breaking out they get a huge amount of promo and sometimes become a blockbuster.
there may actually be something in human nature that makes people want to have a shared experience.