The End is Near, or Is It?
Many of you may have heard that Barnes & Noble will be closing a third of their brick-and-mortar stores over the next ten years. That’s about 20 stores per year! According to some of the articles I have read, they have been quietly closing about 15 stores per year over the last decade, while branching into new areas with the Nook and their merger with Microsoft.
It would appear that the future of publishing is showing a definite shift toward the internet and ebooks. Yet, some articles are stating that overall e-book sales are down from the past few years. It is an uncertain time to be an author.
Consider, too, the merging of some of the Big Six publishers this past year, and the failure of many big publishers to publish e-books. Are they really that sure that real books are going to maintain their staying power in the marketplace?
Perhaps the number of readers in the world has decreased? [And by readers, I am talking about the human variety, as in one who reads, not electronic e-book readers. :)] A sad thought, indeed. Especially for a writer albeit an as yet unpublished one! But it does seem that a lot of teens and young adults that I have come into contact with would rather play with the apps on their iPads and smart phones than read a book. Do people still read?
I, personally, love books, and reading. Just ask my husband! 🙂 I think sometimes he fears our floors will cave in from the weight of all my books. I always said I would never like an e-reader, but over the last few years, I have fallen in love with Kindle and the idea of being able to carry around 3000 books without throwing out my back! But still there are some books that I prefer in three dimensions. Books with a lot of formatting – charts, boxed topics, pictures, lists, and so on – are much easier to follow on real paper. Some books are so dense with information that flipping back and forth to an index is almost guaranteed, and again, for that, I prefer paper.
As an author in the pre-published phase, I have been sitting on the fence regarding traditional and self-publishing. My research is telling me that most traditional publishers, if you can get their attention, won’t spend the time and money to promote an unknown author, so marketing would fall squarely on my shoulders. The odds of them putting up the cash to publish my book in hardcover as well as paperback and e-book formats are slim. That just seems to be the way of the new world – so many authors, so little funds, and they are only taking chances on writers who are already household names.
So I have to ask all my fellow writers – both traditionally and self-published – is it worth the heartache and the two-year turnaround to release date to continue submitting to agents and traditional publishers when the majority of the promotional work is going to fall to me anyway? Is it worth the 20% here, 30% there to hope that I would receive the editing and promoting attention my book deserves? Should I continue the quest for representation despite the stories about writers being lost in the shuffle and never seeing their books go to print, despite having an agent and a contract with a publisher?
Or, do I plan on becoming an independent author – one who publishes her own books and controls every aspect of the process? It is a scary and exciting prospect… and something worth thinking about.
Perhaps it is time to shift my continual research from how to write a query letter and try to land an agent to how to self-publish and format ebooks… 🙂
What do you think of the future of publishing? Do you prefer ebooks or real paper?