I personally found that opinion rather counterproductive to someone who was making their living off of the business of selling books. I held the opposite opinion and felt what we needed was MORE books and that many good ones were being passed over because there were only so many open slots that were available through a relatively small number of publisher's finite capacity. Of course that was all before the ebook revolution.
With the advances in technology (Print on Demand and ebooks) the ability to put out more books has exploded. During the Gaithersburg Book Festival a panel of publishing professionals was discussing the Future of the book. Jed Lyons noted that a trend of selling less copies of more titles was changing the nature of publishing. He cited the following statistics: (04:25 in the video found here).
- Ten years ago 50,000 books were published per year
- Five years ago 180,000 books were published per year
- Last year there were 1,000,000 books published
- There are now more than 17,000 publishers
As progressive as I have been in my own publishing company, I found that even myself, fell into a trapping that many publishers do, which is limiting the output of authors. When I first started putting out Michael's books, I planned for them to be released one every six-months. My thought process was to have an event that would trigger a "shot in the arm" for sales that would help reverse a decline that was started to appear at this time as the initial bubble of sales started to slow down.
I've now changed my opinion on that front and believe that books should be released as quickly as possible. I think it was John Locke (ebook best seller) who mentioned that each book was like a sales agent who went out into the world on an evangelic mission to bring readers to the author's body of work and that makes a lot of sense to me.
But the shift from scarcity to abundance will have major repercussions to the publishing industry and authors ability to make a living writing. In an article entitled Scarcity to Abundance: E-books and the pain of the Digital Revolution, Steven Lyle Jordon says:
The state of our world, after the full adoption of the Digital Revolution, will likely be as unrecognizable to those of us alive today as the Industrial Revolution would have been to the farmers of the fifteenth century.And I think he's correct. One of the last posts I was commenting on before being banned from Absolute Write was with a poster who actually made the following statements:
I also think your "new model" and "old model" is pretty indicative of exactly the type of thinking I find a little faulty in the first place. I'm sure you'll disagree with me on this, but the model is changing and it's a lot more amorphous than that. We saw tape players turn to cds turn to mp3s and there was no major collapse of the record industry.Seriously? How deep is the hole that those clinging to traditional publishing models live in? We are not talking about a mere "change in format". Nor a trend that only effects self-published authors. What we are seeing is a whole new publishing paradigmn. Here are some comments from my rebutal that I think bears repeating:
Truth be told, my own thought is that I expect there to continue to be paradigm shifts in self-publishing, with commercial remaining largely the same.
The toothpaste is out of the tube and there is no going back. From this point on the number of books will continue to proliferate at an unprecedented speed. I think this will offer both opportunity and challenges, but putting your head in the sand and ignoring that it has occurred is definitely not the correct approach.
If you believe this is about a new format than you are missing the importance of the monumental shifts.
a) Authors selling in the tens and hundreds of thousands without publishers
b) The collapse of bookstore chains
c) A required shift of marketing from chain store buyers to individual readers
d) infinite shelf space of online buying
e) the re-introduction of hundreds of thousands of out of print titles that can now be reintroduced into the market place
f) A huge proliferation of titles (ten years ago 50,000 titles a year were released last year there were 1,000,000 (Source)
g) long tail economics as books can remain "in print" forever through POD and ebooks
h) an end to publisher monopolies as a sole gatekeeper to getting a book to market.
i) a new publishing model (Thomas and Mercer) where a major publisher has access not only to consumer emails but also their buying habits.