And now for the news.
Highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing:
- Commentary: The latest publishing mega-merger might kill off small presses — and literary diversity by Chad W. Post
In this commentary piece for the LA Times, Chad Post creates something of a nightmarish interpretation of the future in which Penguin Random House, the largest of all current traditional publishing houses, subsumes not just Simon & Schuster (the third-largest publishing house) but lays the groundwork for the decline of indie and small press publishing. PRH, whose holding company recently purchased S&S, will now be the largest traditional publishing company in history, and its only competition––Amazon––is not exactly a problem-free alternative for readers looking to support their independent publishers, bookstores, and authors as well. Writes Post,
Here’s my darkest vision of this merger: The first post-COVID-19 gathering of the Winter Institute, the only formal convention bringing together publishers and booksellers (now that BookExpo might be permanently retired), will be dominated by PRHS&S. They will have special dinners, busing booksellers to fancy venues every night to explain why it has the most important (meaning sellable) books over shrimp scampi. Meanwhile, the true laborers of the book industry — those who hustle and work the angles, who take the greatest risks and reap the paltriest rewards — will barely get any bookseller facetime at all.
There are many reasons why this could pose an issue to all of us invested in self-publishing, but it is also, as Post puts it, a rallying cry: “These two giants, PRHS&S and Amazon — helped along by COVID-19 — could put any number of presses out of business, further reducing the diversity of voices available to readers like you. And that’s exactly what we should stand against in 2021.” We couldn’t agree more.
Is the Publishing Industry Dead? by Alexis Davis
In this article from Web Writers Spotlight, Alexis Davis asks a question oft-asked by those outside of the self-publishing industry: Has self-publishing (along with the Internet) killed the radio star––er, publishing industry? Or as she puts it more eloquently, “When ebooks exploded on the scene, experts predicted that the end of print publishing was nigh. […] Many rushed out and bought e-readers. How we consumed books forever changed. But did the advent of electronic publishing deliver a fatal blow to print publishing, and how has self-publishing affected the industry?” The answer, according to Davis, may in fact be surprising––again, to those who aren’t already in the know. Writes Davis, “In the U.S., print remains the most popular book format, with 65% of adults having read a print book in the last 12 months.” Just because digital options exist, she hints, doesn’t mean readers will abandon their favorite reading options. Digital means more options, not fewer preferences. “Just as digital music didn’t kill radio, digital publishing didn’t kill print. Radio adapted by offering live streaming. The publishing industry adapted by embracing ebooks and audiobooks,” writes Davis. “With the rise of self- and indie-publishing, we now have a more robust industry with more options available to writers, and that’s a good thing.” For the rest of Davis’ article, click the link above––it’s well worth the read.