No, more and more people are reading books now. I'm looking at our results and I'm seeing explosive ebook growth on top of steady print sales. Our turnover is up year-on-year and has been for some time now; this is what I see across the rest of the Big Six, too.
Basically all the data that crosses my desk implies that you don't know what you're talking about.
I agree with the editorial stance of Techdirt and its columnists on many things, but here I have to part ways. Actually I had to register an account in order to comment, so sad and frustrated does this make me.
Comments on this thread include, among many other similar ones:
"I almost can understand the cost of a book around $15.00 because you have to also include in the price of the printing process. However, with ebooks, you don't have to worry about that."
"The public doesn't care about the "baked in" costs or subsidizing continuing legacy costs, which sounds suspiciously like cross subsidization, fancy headquarters and a host of other things which include obscene executive salaries"
"The publisher agent and other fees are the primary reason why the costs are kept artificially high. Those are the vast majority of the cost of the book, cutting into the amount paid to the author."
None of these people has a clue.
Look, folks: paper is cheap. We save maybe 10% of cover price by not having to print things, although there are all kinds other costs involved in running an ebook business (like the dozen or so full-time staff we have on site.)
Publishing staff, even executives, are pretty cheap. We cost very little compared to other industries. I reheat a lot of soup.
Publishing companies are both pretty lean - the first major component of our business model is bulk purchasing of services like editorial and design, much more efficient than freelancing everything - and modestly profitable; our profit margins are not high. Check out the accounts if you like.
Where does the money go in making a book?
The biggest line item is the up-front, nonreturnable advance for the author, who never has to pay a penny to their publisher. We pay you to write the book, we polish and package and lavish all kinds of love on it - most of which is completely opaque to the consumer, because they only tend to notice bad packaging and editing etc. In return we get a bigger cut of the back end than you (though not a huge cut.)
Shifting risk away from the author may well be attractive to the author. If you want to self-publish, it's more of a gamble, because you need to pay up-front for stuff like design and editing. By all means hire that amateur off deviantart to do your cover art and try to crowdsource proofreading. Let me know how that works out for you. That's the other big cost in book publishing.
You can't simply divorce the ebook edition from the paperback edition and pretend all the major costs are sunk and irrelevant. You have to look at the P&L for a *book*, not a single edition. Have you ever run a P&L costing for a book? If not, stop lecturing us about what it costs to make one.
What depresses me is that *nobody* without direct experience seems to have a fucking clue about the economics of book publishing, and in the absence of any knowledge, have concluded that we do nothing, that we sit on our asses in gilded offices eating bon-bons, and the sooner we are swept away and everyone is their own self-publisher the better. Well, I hope you enjoy reading slush. I really do.
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