Traditional Publishing – the canoes now come with paddles!


Okay, you know I try not to delve into politics or business, and surely not the politics of business, but today’s headlines once again regale us with the rehashing of (alleged) price fixing, coercion and generally nasty thoughts amongst the Publishing Elite.


I find the whole affair ludicrous.


First off, the prosecution wants to use quotes from a dead guy’s autobiography? Who’s going to cross examine the late Steve Jobs? Instead of dead man walking it could be dead man talking? Also, since when does a company as large as Apple need help from the likes of HarperCollins et al? And if Amazon is selling its books for a sawbuck, who’s stopping Apple from selling books for $2.99. It’s a free market economy. As long as costs are covered and a reasonable profit is made, why complain? Disruptive technology at its best, I say. Besides, when Amazon priced its books below cost, the books were being used as loss leaders in order to sell  eReaders. Why lead the horse to water when you can make more money selling the trough? Tells me a lot about what Amazon thought of the authors.


Thank goodness traditional publishers NOW have canoes with paddles! Well – yes, but – the newer start-ups and self publishers have the Internet with much less brick and mortar overhead. Paddle or no paddle, your canoe may be sinking, gentlemen!

Ojibwe birchbark canoe, 1910

Ojibwe birchbark canoe, 1910 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The big fuss seems to be over which companies want to use an agency model instead of a wholesale model for pricing and who told who to do what. Anyway, to learn more about those sordid goings on, check out the WSJ article here. The real issue is the fact that traditional publishers did not want to lose the “books made of paper” model. One of the best articles I have read on the subject is from social media expert Kristen Lamb. Read her thoughts on the matter here, and check back in a few years to see how her predictions have fared.


As for me, I think  I’ll stick with my highly (un)scientific method of analyzing of publishing trends by people watching at the coffee shop. I spend about an hour and half there every day and so far all of the bibliophiles are using their phones, tablets, Nooks, Kindles and laptops to read the latest and greatest tomes. The only paper left in the joint is the New York Times, delivered every day. And I have yet to see someone pick up a copy. Maybe Starbucks could sell fish?


So price fixing? Yeah, illegal and someone should probably pay a fine. But in the long run – does it matter? The free market paired with self publishing and its rock bottom low barrier to entry will take care of pricing. So to step off the soapbox, I’ll end with besh wishes to all involved, and <lifting glass> “Here’s to good men who sip Bombay while practicing their short game in between two minute pitch sessions from equally anachronistic agents. Cheers! And perhaps you should learn how to froth milk…”





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