Monday, June 26, 2006

What He Said

Lou Anders (editorial head of the newish Pyr imprint at Prometheus Books) makes a plea for US readers to support authors and publishers by buying the US editions of the books they love.

Good luck, Lou -- I've been saying the same thing, off and on, on rec.arts.sf.written for about five years now, but it's not a message people want to hear. You'll probably get a lot of "smash the outdated territorial publishing system!" responses from people who don't realize that such smashing would lead to a lot more John Grisham and Paulo Coelho and a lot less serious SF.


Anonymous said...

I understand the logic, but I am very very weak and will continue to buy the books I really want from whatever publisher puts them out first, regardless of locale. I can't help it.

To balance that out, I buy lots and lots of SF and all of it new and in hardcover. So I'm one of the good guys, right?

Anonymous said...

Personally I think that the whole publishing industry is going to change radically or perish sooner than later, whether we want it or not. Rather than moaning about "from people who don't realize that such smashing would lead to a lot more John Grisham and Paulo Coelho and a lot less serious SF", better come up with viable ebook models, with viable publishing models that are geography independent and so on, rather than fight the tide.
The territorial publishing system IS outdated in the Net age whether we like it or not, it is a fact and we gotta deal with it. When I see these type of posts from people wiht some power in the publishing industry I despair and it reminds me of the horse dealers when the automobile was introduced. Though those got smart and started selling used cars :)
Mr. Anders post had a very valid point, that if we like the authors we should make an effort to support them by buying a US copy too if we can afford, and while not sustainable in the long run, at least it tries to do something about
establishing his imprint right now.


Andrew Wheeler said...

Actually, the territorial publishing system is quite sustainable. Ebooks might, if they're lucky, end up at about audio-books's level of sales: roughly 10% of the level of the same item in print form. And the various electronic booksellers are also only a single-digit percentage of book sales.

Neither of those things is going to kill the book any time soom, nor are they going to kill any publishers that aren't in trouble already.

What they can kill are marginal books: the ones that are slightly profitable if you're lucky. To some extent, the big publishing houses have moved away from those books anyway (and we've seen the rise of small presses like Night Shade, Subterranean, Wildside/Prime, and so on to fill those gaps), but that still means those books will be more expensive, less available, and much less likely to be picked up on a whim by a new reader.

That's the problem here: that people buying books from another major market (this really only applies to the US and UK; everyone else to too small to make a big difference) can tend to make books like those more expensive and harder to find in the long run.

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