It’s been clear for months that it will be a not-so-merry holiday season for publishers, but at least one house has gone so far as to halt acquisitions. PW has learned that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has asked its editors to stop buying books. […] Another agent who had also heard about the no-acquisitions policy at HMH called the move “very scary” and said it’s indicative of an industry climate worse than any he’s ever seen.
1. Expect this to keep happening for a while at other major publishers.
2. More independent publishers will spring up, particularly in the ebook arena.
3. Major publishers will start mining their backlists for ebooks. Oh, wait, they already have. Credit for innovation coming right up!
4. Revisions in the advance/royalty system. E-presses blazed this trail, but Harper Studios has taken up the cause (and may end up reaping the credit for that, too).
5. This may be the death knell for the consignment system of selling books. One can hope, anyway.
Yeah, it’s depressing, but A) everybody’s having a hard time, so boo hoo at you too, publishing and B) everything is cyclical.
Quite frankly, the economic downturn and the rise of the ebook couldn’t be timed better. You build up the low-cost or free alternative in the downswing (coupled with instant gratification), something people can afford and are open to, then you see it explode once the upswing begins.
Dead tree books will NOT be a thing of the past (knock on wood), but the smart publishers and booksellers will find cheaper alternatives to bring those to market too. If you want to survive after an economic downturn, you must start thinking in the long-term instead of the short-term; you sure as heck aren’t making any money now, so figure out how to make money when everybody has some again.
Pssst, publishers and booksellers:
It’s called the Espresso.
At Wal-Mart, Target, and smack DAB in the middle of your chain or independent bookstore.