BR Stateham has posted an interesting blog entry, wondering how much agents should be held accountable for the current plight of the publishing industry, because of their insistence on high advances. Here's a question to discuss the flip side of his hypothesis.

What about an agent who the author thinks is shooting too high? An agent who only approaches big New York houses--even in the face of a full round of rejections--and is not interested in looking at smaller publishers where the author might have a better chance of getting a toehold and building some readership.

True, the agent can't make any money on 15% of what a smaller house will pay. At what point do the agent's interests diverge from the author's, if building a career is the goal?

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Yes, that's true about Chapters/Indigo.

I have to say I'd be sad to see physical bookstores disappear forever. You lose the ability to browse. The spam from authors trying to get noticed will be even worse than it is now.

There's still something about being able to hold a book in your hand, to read the back, to see the physical cover and get a feel for the book when you decide if you want it. And I can't even begin to imagine how hard it would be to shop for kids' books online.

I don't mind ebooks coexisting on some level, but I don't want that to be all there is, and with amazon moving steadily towards publishing themselves there will be more and more unedited stuff out there and fewer publishers to produce quality books.

I will take the point that there are a lot of books we have no choice but to order, because they're not what bookstores typically stock, though.
That's Chicken Little talk. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that e-books will make paper books disappear. That's just wild speculation.

But even if that does happen, why will the industry collapse because of that? I'm sure you know that before a book goes to the press, it is a digital file. It is either in PDF or Indesign format, or maybe QuarkXpress format, or LaTex or something like that. But it's an e-book already. All the editing and stuff that editors and agents and everyone in the industry does has already been done before it goes to press.

If e-books replaced physical books, they would simply release the book at that stage instead of sending the digital file to a printer. The process of an author finding an agent and then getting a publisher, and then cover design and editing, etc, all that remains the same.

Also, Amazon doesn't sell e-books for 99 cents. I don't know where you're getting that from. Their Kindle editions cost almost as much as a physical book.

It seems to me you're just fear-mongering. That's what the RIAA did back in 1999 when file sharing started to become popular. They said it would be the end of the industry. Ten years later, the industry is still there.
What will we do about libraries, our own, I mean? e-book readers do not fill shelves attractively. There goes interior design!
I.J.,

I don't think physical books are going away, so I don't think your question will be an issue. However, if they did, and all we had were e-books, then libraries would probably have to shift to online entities. That would cut down costs to the government for sure, but it would also leave out people who don't have access to the internet. I guess they could convert the libraries into internet cafes to alleviate that.

Of course, if it ever comes about that everyone has an e-reader, then it wouldn't be a problem, because you know these e-readers will have internet capability.
That's Chicken Little talk. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that e-books will make paper books disappear. That's just wild speculation.

Not to pick a nit, John, but you're the one who suggested that if bricks and mortar bookstores 'can't compete, let them disappear.'
Some of us remember when television was going to be the end of the motion picture industry. It did change the motion picture industry. The old studio system disappeared and adapted to a new business model.

I foresee the same thing happening in the book business. Ebooks are the television of the past, big publishing is the studio system. The sky is not falling, just shifting a little.
I've been trying to get my local Barnes&Noble bookstore to set up a booksigning event with my books. No deal. Not even interested, In face the manager of the store says her district manager frowns upon such events if the author and book are not from a mainstream publisher.

And then, turn around, and this coming Friday I'm doing a book signing event . . . guess where. . . at the largest Barnes&Noble bookstore in the biggest city in my state. And they're eager for me to be there!

This whole world of publishing is a royal pain in the ass. I think maybe Amazon should just take over completely.
Congrats on getting anything out of B&N. Now beware of the actual event. Mine neither promoted nor announced the signing. Instead they pointed me to a corner with a couch and a couple of chairs and a table stacked high with books they hoped to sell. The couch was occupied by a snoring homeless man who periodically interrupted me angrily when I talked to a casual shopper who stopped out of curiosity. Result: not one book sold. Signings at independent stores are better.
I tend to agree, the big chain stores have so much internal politics, it is hard to get them to promote your signing. The small independant store (like mine), my managers will spend tons of time and effort to market your appearance, and grrr my money.
I think Dana poses a very interesting question. Especially since most large publishers won't even read your book unless you have a top name agent representing you. It doesn't seem to be in an agent's best interest to sell to the smaller publishers as their commission would be close to nothing. So I have to wonder how many have the patience and are willing to take the time, hoping a slow build-up will eventually be as lucrative as the big hit. And, thinking that most authors these days would almost rather be read than paid, it's hard to imagine what kind of agent is going to support that dream?

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