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In the midst of a Revolution


The Publishing industry is facing its biggest churn in 500 years. What worked for it even a few years ago, is not working anymore. Gone are the days of multi-million dollar advances, and the lifestyle of a Richard Castle. Now, getting an advance is a pipe dream for most authors.

Currently, the traditional publishing industry comprises of only a handful of conglomerates , generally large multimedia firms. A large army of literary agents has become the gateway into publishing for writers and would-be writers. In the past, just as scores of independent bookstores had to shut shop because of large chains (best captured in ‘You’ve Got Mail’), the large retail chains are facing the onslaught from mass merchandisers and Amazon.

This however has not spelled doom for authors! Digital technology has impacted book publishing business in a big, positive manner. After many false starts, e-books are finally here to stay. In 2006, e-books accounted for only 0.1 percent of overall revenue of large US trade publishers. In other words – e-books were irrelevant to their business. Less than a decade later, e-books now account for more than 20% of the revenues.

According to the latest numbers from the Association of American Publishers,adult ebooks brought in $1.3 billion in revenues in 2013, up 3.8% from $1.25 billion in 2012. Ebooks account for 27% of all adult trade. sales .Books like romance, science fiction and thrillers can account for almost 60%, while academic books also make up a significant number now. Religious books, a smaller segment accounts for 11% of all religious book sales!

In 2012, ebook revenue growth was 41% across the trade. After years of accelerating growth, it hit an inflection point, moving to slower growth. In 2013, growth slowed even further.

So where will this go? Will the traditional print book become a collector’s item and sell like all good antiques do? Will publishers look at other businesses to generate revenues? What of the literary agents? Will Amazon become stronger? Will e-books be a passing fad, and print books come back in a big way?

No one has any definitive answers. The truth is we are in the midst of a huge revolution…and we don’t know when it will end, and how the future will turn out to be!




About Preeti Singh

I am a bookaholic. I love stories, storytelling. I enjoy helping people structure their storytelling, and I love to share the stories I discover.

One comment on “In the midst of a Revolution

  1. Jyoti Minocha
    November 7, 2014

    Insightful piece—-thanks for posting Preeti


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This entry was posted on September 2, 2014 by in Articles, Publishing.
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