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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Linton said, "But don't kid yourself that there is a correspondence between reading and price. Book fans pay extra for hard covers. Think about that."

Which is true, but those fans are shrinking in number. Hardcover sales are down, but mass market paperback sales are up.
The thing is, I'm a fan of more than just books. I play video games a lot too. Both are overpriced, but video games have more replay value, so everything else being equal, I'm more likely to choose a game I want over a book, unless that book is by a favorite author of mine. So in my case, there is a correlation between reading and price. Of course, I speak only for myself.
I think it's a demographic thing. Older readers may not have a problem paying $17 for a new hardcover that they're going to read once and then put on a shelf. If the choice is between a book and beer, though, or between a book and a video game as it is for John D, a lot of younger readers are going to go for the beer or the video game. If the book costs $6 instead of $17, then it's a different story, as John M points out. Sticking to an obviously unfair price point is part of what killed the recording industry: CDs should, by rights, have cost $5 or $6 once the tech had been around long enough to pay off the R&D costs. A lot of consumers felt ripped off by the $17 CD; if you piss off your customers long enough, they'll find ways to get back at you.
Correction: Penguin is quite healthy. I have it from the horse's mouth. Penguin is also an old an respected company with a presence in the UK and Canada.

It's really the small publishers you have to watch because they may be out of business between your signing the contract and the book's release.

I have also seen no connection between lower price and sales. When people want a book, they pay hardcover price without finching.
The Kindle version of my first police procedural, White Tombs, will be available on Amazon soon. I just think it's the wave of the future and I'll be happy to see it available. An article I read reported that something like 4 out of the 5 top selling books in Japan were first published as i-phone versions and then, after they became popular, were bought by traditional presses and reprinted as books.

Also, regarding libraries, softcover editions are not only less expensive, but need to be replaced in library systems more often. Thus, there's a better chance for continual, long term sales to libraries, especially if they're stocking multiple copies of your books, whereas bookstore sales may be slow, or, worse yet, they may return copies or not stock your book at all.
I think Kindle would be great if the books were cheaper. Example: I bought a C++ primer book, about a 900+ page book for $35. There was a Kindle edition available as well, which would be nice, since the physical book is really heavy so it's not as convenient. But the Kindle edition was $30. A digital file, only five bucks less than a 900 page physical copy. What a rip-off. Also, I see a lot of mass market paperbaks for $7.99 and the Kindle edition is like $6.00. I just don't think that's a good deal at all.
I've only handled the Sony e-reader (we don't have the Kindle in Canada) and I like it quite a bit. With the cover it opens and feels like a book and the screen is very, very close to paper. It takes all kinds of files, .pdf, .doc, .txt and more. There are probably a lot of other good readers out there I've never heard of.

Many people working in publishing now say they do all their reading of manuscripts on e-readers.

I like the idea of a dedicated reader that doesn't have a lot of other crap on it because reading is a dedicated activity for me. But I do it everywhere and being able to take a lot of books with me on a single reader is great.

And I would buy more books if they were cheaper. I'd take chances on new writers the way I do now from the library, but I'd spend five bucks on the e-book - the same price as the latte I like a couple times a week - to get it right away.
I agree that prices should be significantly cheaper on Kindle. I think there are good deals on hardcovers and larger soft covers. My book sells for $14.95, which is the average price for a softcover, but the Kindle version is $8.99. Because Amazon is working with Mobipocket, which I believe is headquartered in France, White Tombs will also be available on other handheld devices as well. As John D. points out, there isn't much difference between a mass market paperback and some Kindle editions, although I've seen some Kindle paperbacks selling for less than $6.00. There comes a point when you don't want them given away. I think there's also a convenience factor. People who travel a lot might prefer the new, slim version of the Kindle as opposed to carrying three or four books. I'm going out of the country on vacation for a week, and I'm almost wishing I had a Kindle instead of having to pack the four books I plan to read. I'll always prefer an actual book in my hands, but if the price for Kindle comes down, I might end up purchasing one.
Libraries here don't seem to replace books they remove from the shelves with the same thing.
Libraries do weed their inventories over time just like bookstores. But if people keep requesting a certain book, libraries will stock it, and usually with more than one copy. Particularly if the author is local or regional.
Thank you for trying to encourage me. That was kind. But I'm very ambivalent about libraries. For every library sale (and I write the sort of book librarians think is educational), I lose hundreds of bookstore sales. What's worse (while I'm on the subject of libraries again), a local librarian assured me a couple of days ago that they could now provide a new book as soon as it hits the market. It used to take them a couple of months to handle the cataloguing chores, but these days that is immensely speeded up. And it means that those who are waiting for our next book will not buy it at Barnes & Noble but get it in the library.
Naturally librarians do not care about the impact of this on authors and publishers. They care about their patrons.
I've been been invited to quite a few local book clubs, which is a lot of fun. But many of the group members get my book from the library system and don't purchase it. Sometimes, they'll buy a book if I come to their book club because they want a signed copy, but I'm sure I'm losing some sales. Still, at least they're reading the book and telling others about it.


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