Sunday, August 21, 2011

Renaissance in Publishing?

by Raelene Gorlinsky

The July 25, 2011, issue of Publishers Weekly had an insightful opinion article by Ashley Rindsberg, "Renaissance: Are niches the new mass market?" He summarized the changes of the past two decades and explains just how the whole basis of the publishing industry has been shaken. Some excerpts:

< Through all the panic and hysteria that's gripped the publishing world over the past few years, and in spite of academic musings on the fate of the book, we're witnessing an unprecedented flourishing of creativity and innovation in the book business. [...]

Social media has made "the niche" the all-important marketing concept today. Readers now gather around shared passions and interests [...] book production and distribution has finally become advanced enough to deliver titles directly to individual niches in a cost-effective way.

In short, a new publishing industry is emerging. For decades the book business has been dominated by what's become the "big six" corporate publishers and the major bookstore chains. [...] Given the high fixed costs of producing and selling a book, it became critical for big publishers to invest in titles that could nto only bring a return on the investment but subsidize the other titles that didn't sell. Thus, the focus of much of the book industry began to shift away from the kind of magical books that enrich our culture, to those books that could sell big. And how do publishers predict what will sell? By looking at what's already sold, of course.

In this way the book industry began to churn out expensive, generic titles that merely mimicked previous bestsellers. And smaller, niche-oriented titles--books that [...] lacked that "mass market" gloss--went unpublished or, ast best, were left for dead on the backlist.

Then, in the late 1980s, things started to change. Small publishers began using new digital publishing technologies--the era of "desktop publishing". In the mid 1990s, Internet sales, through services like Amazon, emerged. And now, in just the past few years, social networking and social media have changed the game; Google has scanned and made millions of books discoverable; digital print-on-demand has become practical and cost-effective; and most important, the Kindle, Nook and iPad have paved the way for an e-book future.
[...]
The current environment has all the makings of a renaissance for books. Even as the major publishing conglomerates contract, and retail chains like Borders flail, small and truly independent publishers are flourishing. >

Yep, I think that explains the success of Ellora's Cave and other indies and epubs like us. We target a specific market niche (such as erotic romance), and we understand that niche. We take chances on new authors and new styles within that niche, because we grasp what our readers may want and we cater to the diversity within that market and we provide value to those readers.

Of your recent reads, how many were those "megasellers for the masses" from major publishers, and how many were niche books from smaller publishers or the targeted genre lines of the big publishers?

5 comments:

Katalina Leon said...

This is encouraging good news.
XXOO Kat

Anonymous said...

I read fiction for entertainment--mostly romances, rarely best sellers. I did recently fall head over heels for "Lord of the Scoundrels," but I do a lot of shopping on AllRomance, which features mostly small presses. I only buy hc/pbs as gifts.

I've come to require a minimum of an HFN ending (HEA preferred), so I rarely read literature any more (I guess authors and/or publishers feel that readers won't take their stuff seriously unless it leaves us sad, or at least bittersweet. I don't care for that, so I don't buy it unless I'm guaranteed an ending that will satisfy my needs and not leave me wishing for something happier).

The only thing the big publishers have to offer me is
audio books, which allow me another avenue for my fiction fix, but are weird on romance, especially the love scenes (if you've tried it, you know what I mean). I consume them much more slowly and seek light mysteries, urban fantasy and the like with the requisite satisfaction of a HFN.

I also buy a small amount of non-fiction from a variety of publishers large and small.

I purchase and consume at least ten books a month.

--I am Reader, Hear Me Whisper

Ranae Rose said...

Yep, these are definately exciting times in publishing. I probably read 50/50 big six books and small press or indie titles. When I want a good erotic romance, I go straight to small press and indie offerings.

James said...

These are indeed exciting times for readers and writers alike. They say that everybody has book inside them and it has never been easier to get it out. Dare I say it there is even money to be made for unknown but talented writers who no longer need their books to be sanctioned by a panel of publishers worried only about the line of their bottom.

James said...

These are indeed exciting times for readers and writers alike. They say that everybody has book inside them and it has never been easier to get it out. Dare I say it there is even money to be made for unknown but talented writers who no longer need their books to be sanctioned by a panel of publishers worried only about the line of their bottom.