Publishers Sell Directly

The other day I was chatting with my lawyer friend/swim mom, Margaret. I don't know how the topic came up, but she talking about the publishing business and wondered why publishing houses don't do more to sell directly from their web presence.

Her comment was that publishers would do better to change their publishing model to generate search engine activity toward selling their books on their site.

Good point. I agree. I think publishing houses would agree, but I honestly think they don't know where to start with this problem. There are millions of books out there.

Amazon, as we all know, is usually the first or second hit when you Google a book title.

I just tried it with one of my titles. Yep, Amazon. My blog link was around the sixth hit.

Publishers would do better to sell directly to the consumer, because they wouldn't have to pay the middle man (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc). They could keep a smaller stock of books vs. warehouses full of books to ship to all the brick and mortar stores. Plus with the advent of electronic publishing, they could offer eBooks more easily. All they have to do is format those books for each of those particular electronic devices.

Indie authors do it. Why can't publishers?

As much as I love going into Barnes and Noble, there's a dirty little secret concerning bookstores and publishers. Bookstores can 'render' the books (rip off the covers to return covers to publisher for a full refund). The books are supposed to be destroyed, but it doesn't always happen. If, as a consumer, you purchase a coverless book, you are cheating the author out of their money--the only one making money on the deal is the dude selling them out of the back of his car.

Those little pop-up cardboard things that have the newest and greatest? Yeah, that's publisher money paying for it. Also, have you noticed that some books are faced out, while others are spine out--publisher money. And this doesn't include warehousing and distribution.

If Amazon can do POD (print on demand) publishing, why can't the publishers?

With the event of electronic publishing, it's not like they have to typeset each page. Oh, then they could warehouse a smaller quantity of books, and print a new run when they get low. Instead of paying trucks to distribute to all the brick and mortar bookstores, now they can send the book directly to the consumer.

Think of the profit margin!

Then they don't have to pay for returns. And it's not like that comes out of their pocket, the returns come out of the AUTHOR'S POCKET. When an author gets an 'advance', it's full term is called Advance Against Returns. Authors have to 'earn out' their advance before they ever see any royalties. And if you think every author is getting rich with their advances, then you are only seeing the < 1% of the writer population that is getting serious advances. Most authors make between $4000-6000 per book, or less depending on the publisher and book genre, especially when they are starting out, and those monies are usually divided into chunks--acceptance of contract, acceptance of manuscript, and when published. And all these terms can be sticky depending on the slipperiness of the publishing contract!

There are so many angles to look at this, but instead of offering a gazillion bucks for some loser to write a book about their time on a reality show, maybe they should spend more monies in house to update their on line presence, their accounting system (trust me, this is U-G-L-Y!) and paying their editors/authors a decent salary so they can actually live off what they make.

 Well, I opened a bigger can of worms than I intended to with this blog post, so I'll stop right here.

Later, Peeps!


Meg said...

You are so right--IMNSHO!
I made more self pubbing my book than I did with a house.

Margaret Golla said...

It's an interesting conundrum for publishers. I think they really need to have some marketing gurus actively trying to figure out how to increase their profits through marketing instead of taking profits from their authors, who provide the product.