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.
8 thoughts on “Moratorium on manuscript buying”
Y’know, I thought of you the other day when I saw this article about “40,000 eBooks a day.”
(Crap–I had a whole post that disappeared after this point when I hit Submit!)
Obviously, despite my love of Real Books, this is the future. The downside, though, seems to be akin to the Disneyfication of literature–wherein publishers who are too chickenshit to take a chance on something truly unique (that–hello?!–could rev up consumer interest) fall into the routine of simply repackaging stale ideas, either literally or figuratively.
The fact you finally had to resort to self-pub proves that, I think. Congrats on leading the wave of the future. If TPTB are too timid to climb out of their rut, they deserve to be usurped.
The first time I see an Espresso, I’m buying something just to watch it whirl.
Personally I would gladly wait for an advance if I knew it would make things easier (I do believe it also would enable publishers to put more $ into marketing) but there are so many writers who live off those advances.
Ahh the for the days of 100k print runs and first press sellouts. The halycon days of romances.
Yes, but WILL they?
I totally see this as opportunity. Now is the time for me to start building up a reader base with freebies, and by the time the first print release comes out, either the economy will be on an upswing, or I’ll have built a large enough base that I can start selling anyway.
I’m going to just work hard, get my stuff out there, and see what happens. With me totally in control of my work and able to “keep it in print” it doesn’t really matter if it’s next year or three years from now when the economy swings up. I just keep building readers with free ebooks and the option to buy a print copy, or donate, and let it work out.
I love all you positive people.
Haggis, I’m sorry I missed your post.
That’s already happened. I mean, it’s okay. When I want a romance with all the familiar devices (commonly called “tropes” in Romancelandia, which term I despise), I know I can get that.
What I miss is stumbling into unique and wonderful things when I’m just kind of swimming along in a sea of comfort and familiarity.