In Which We Enter Into A New Thematic Arc

January 12th, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

Over the past few weeks, we’ve read various articles and blog postings about the state of the publishing industry. While each author focused on a different aspect of the whole mess, a bunch of common ideas surfaced. At first, we thought we’d address the matter with one of our patented lenghty-beyond-belief posts, but have you ever written one of those? All those words take a lot of time.

So, until we can gather our thoughts and achieve at least a modicum of coherence (which is really more than you expect from us on a normal basis), we’re going to start throwing out links. Never let it be said that we don’t recognize our limitations when we see them. Let us begin with a quote that, helpfully, sums up much of what we’ve been reading:

Few who have much to do with books make a good living out of it – and this despite the fact that books published in English represent 27 per cent of the world’s share of titles! Most authors receive pitiful advances which are rarely earned out. Salaries among staff in publishing houses are notoriously low. And owners of imprints must mostly do it for the love, since it is an endemically unprofitable industry.

I owned a book publisher for a period and found it a painful experience. I learned that the cashflow characteristics are most unattractive. You pay authors upfront for manuscripts that might not arrive for years; you then ship finished volumes to booksellers who only accept them on a sale or return basis, and demand at least 55 per cent trade discount, and pay 120 days later.

But other than that, things are just great.

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