Publishing—What the heck is going on?
Everyone has their own opinion about the publishing industry and where it’s headed. Heck, read J. A. Konrath’s blog http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/ for a fascinating look at book publishing and the growth of e-publishing. Is traditional, NY-based, Big House publishing in trouble? Morphing into something else?
It’s all speculation. Me? I just thought it might be fun at the start of 2011 to take a look at publishing. Perhaps it’s just all that Science Fiction I read in my younger years that’s compelling me to do this. Perhaps my family is right and it’s deep-seated, intensely morbid insanity.
Some of these predictions are my own wish-list. Some are just fun. Some are fun, but also on my wish-list. I leave it to you to decide what might be real and what is just demonic possession.
Projections for the Publishing Industry
Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, the big 6 NY Publishers became the big 3. Several medium-sized publishers merge to become one of the 3 new, big 3 NY publishers.
Sales of e-books continued to skyrocket with reports from Amazon that they now sell three e-books for every paper/hardcover book sold. After this announcement, a Barnes and Noble spokesperson is reported as saying, “Hey, so are we! Wait—no! We’re selling FOUR times as many e-book as paperbacks! Especially since we’ve closed 40% of our stores in less productive markets this year. No—wait. Don’t report that last part. Just say we’re selling four times as many e-books as paperbacks. Wait! Can I get a do-over on this interview?”
A standard format for e-books is under discussion to allow readers to more easily move their virtual libraries from one type of e-book reader to another. E-book virtual libraries are under discussion by leading technologists so readers can keep their stash of books “in the cloud” and permanently available regardless of the devices used for reading/storing the books.
In a surprise move, the Federal Government takes over management of the public library system in the U.S. due to issues with funding and the rate of closures. Feds claim they will examine hosting virtual libraries for readers, too, as part of the public library system and as a way to fund the remaining physical libraries.
Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, the big 3 NY Publishers became the Big One.
Universities and Colleges now require students to have an e-book reader and all text books used are e-books downloaded from Google.
Harvard accidentally grants an author a PHD in English Literature and a tenured professorship when the author is listed on the Times Bestsellers list before they realize the author is self-published. One of Harvard’s non-tenured professors hangs himself in his office in response. Nobody finds the body for three months, leading to the accidental identification of the mummified remains as a medieval scholar who went missing from Cambridge and was widely believed to be brought to the New World as a curiosity to trade to the Native Americans for beaver pelts during the 17th century. The mistake isn’t discovered until his suicide note is found, inexplicably left in an antique typewriter in his office.
A standard format for e-books is adopted. Readers are unsure, however, if they wish to pay the exorbitant fees to have the Feds maintain their virtual library for them in the public library cloud.
In December, in another surprise move after what is dubbed “The Fed Cloud Debacle”, Starbucks strikes a deal with the Federal Government and takes over management of the public library system, incorporating them into their café system. The heavily caffeinated reading public starts consuming books at a faster rate, pumping some much needed energy into the print publishing industry.
The Big One publisher initiates a new program to find authors by trolling e-book sites. After an outcry from prolific and very articulate writers, software vendors include the Big One in their SPAM filtering to cut down on the number of annoying e-mails writers receive, begging for authors to submit their work.
Three agents kill themselves when the last of their authors send them the now traditional “Bite Me” e-mails informing them they are now self-publishing, thank you, and raking in five times as much money as they earned as traditional authors.
Writer organizations such as Mystery Writers, Science Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America, open their doors to the self-published authors. They have so much money they don’t know what to do with it, so they start buying management of literacy programs from the Feds, who are glad to get the money, even if they have to shut down and RIF 50% of the Department of Education.
After the Feds put pressure on them, Starbucks Café and Library system opens up a soup kitchen extension that offers “Soup and a Book” to support the homeless who want to read. After three months, one heavily caffeinated customer spills soup all over his e-book reader due to the “Starbucks Shakes” and he’s electrocuted and dies. The soup kitchens are closed.
Agents are forced to register in a central system so software vendors can include agents in their SPAM filtering to cut down on the number of annoying e-mails writers receive, begging for authors to submit their work. Impetus is added to this when agents bog down Internet traffic with their desperate, whiny e-mails begging authors to choose me!
Five well-known writers who clung to traditional publishing leap off the Empire State building holding hands as a final protest when the NY Times Bestsellers list is dominated by self-published writers writing the enormously popular Science Fiction Romance series: Werewolves are from Mars, Vampires are from Venus. The news article announcing this tragedy misspells all but one of the author’s names and has to issue a retraction which no one reads. However, one lone blogger in Detroit sees the retraction and mistakenly believes all the authors—except one—survived. This leads to a revolutionary phenomenon in e-books purported to be from the four remaining authors about werewolves and vampires who fall in love during long space voyages. These e-books are widely believed to be written by the authors’ ghosts. The e-books outsell all of the authors’ previous works, combined.
Ghosthunters, International does a show where they prove the four authors’ ghosts are writing from a castle in Scotland, using the ENIAC computer abandoned there in 1949, and a 300-BAUD modem to access an obscure bulletin board system with a connection to the Internet running in the pantry of one of Elton John's mansions in England.
News agencies begin to predict the end of e-books because of general illiteracy and the fact that anyone who can complete a manuscript can be a published author. Obviously, only the illiterate can write a book nowadays given the current hostile publishing climate. And who has time for reading when everyone spends all their time on blogging, tweeting, social networking, and e-mailing?
So there you have it. A look at the next four years in publishing.