Taking Stock Diary: The Future of the Book Industry

Taking Stock Diary: A little insight into a PopCultureDiva’s thinking.
by Angela Guillaume

In July a NY literary agent by the name of Andrew Wylie rocked the publishing industry by stating that he would be starting a venture, Odyssey Editions, to publish some of his clients’ titles in digital format. Titles include “Midnight’s Children” by Salman Rushdie and Nabokov’s “Lolita”. Wylie expressed the intention to eventually expand his e-book repertoire to authors he does not represent. For this purpose, Wylie entered into a two year exclusive deal with Amazon so these books will only be available through the Kindle store.

Mega publishers such as Macmillan and Random House reacted with concern and even disgust at this bit of news. Mostly, they are horrified that Wylie would dare sign an exclusive agreement with Amazon, thereby forcing readers to go to that retailer for digital editions of Wylie’s offerings. Macmillan’s argument is that such an agreement only benefits the agent himself and the giant that is Amazon—that hulking beast that has set itself up to smash all encroaching enemies to smithereens—and none of the other stakeholders (writers, publishers, illustrators, readers, competing booksellers, etc.). Random are disputing the deal and expressing their intention to take action, that is, disputing Wylie’s authority to make such a deal and sell these books legally. Books by authors who are still contractually bound to Random House.

Then came more shocking news – first, that Barnes and Noble, that pillar of American culture, purveyor of the written word, was “drawing private equity interest” and second, that it has actually put itself up for sale. Despite its attempts to ride the technological wave with the Nook, it has proved no match for the Kindle or iPad so far.

As if this were not enough we get hit by another tidal wave: there will be no more mass market paperbacks coming September from Dorchester Publishing as it will be dropping its traditional print lines in favor the E-Book/print on demand (POD) system. This is huge news. One of the big publishers completely restructuring their business model and it is going to impact a great big number of people. Their viewpoint was expressed as: “These are like pioneer times in publishing. We felt like we needed to take some chances and make a bold move."

PONDERING A THOUGHT OR TWO: There is no denying that the publishing industry is undergoing some serious changes. Bricks-and-mortar bookstores are fighting for survival, while traditional publishers are finding their business model failing to keep up to the fluctuating economy. Staying afloat has become one of the hardest things to do. So what are the options? Going under, or changing perspective? Sinking, or swimming in unchartered waters?

THE LESSON OF THE HOUR: The saying goes, the only constant in life is change. And nothing could be truer. If we ever come to think we can rest on our laurels, that’s when our world turns upside down. So we should always be ready, when the time comes, for when the pizza hits the fan 

~ Angela Guillaume ~
Author of Romantic Fiction.
No formulas. No rules. Just love.
Website: http://www.angelaguillaume.com
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/angelaguillaume
Yahoo Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/breathtakingromance/
Blog: http://angelaguillaume.blogspot.com
"Mile High to Heaven"--Go the extra mile for love--Contemporary short. "Mr. & Mrs. Foster"--A toasty warm holiday tale
Both books can be purchased from: Whiskey Creek Press Torrid


  1. 'No formulas. No rules. Just love.'

    May I say I love your signature tagline? Yes, the bookstore days we grew up with are going to become a remember-when thing, sooner rather than later, I'm thinking.

  2. Thanks for sharing this news. Yes, the industry is a-changin.

    I'm confused, though. How on earth can an agent expand his e-book repertoire to include authors he doesn't represent? That sounds crazy. He wouldn't have the rights to the material.

  3. Great article, Angela. Times are a'changing indeed. Seems like we're only seeing the tip of the iceberg right now - should expect lots more change to come.

    Missed being on the blog - was having probs with my browser. Thankfully that's cleared now!

    Oh, like Julia, I love, love, love, your signature line!


  4. Julia, thank you so much for your kind words. Glad you like the tagline - first time using it and happy to get positive comments!

    Danika, the authors would actually grant the rights to the agent. In this case the agent would morph into a publisher, and acquire digital rights to the books. Also, as regards those authors who ARE signed, if the contract with the publisher does not cover digital rights, Wylie's concluding, those rights are up for the taking!

    Zee - we have to brace ourselves right? It's going to be a whirlwind, I think. And glad you like my tagline too - it was hard not to run it by you before - but I wanted to see your reaction without saying anything about it. I guess it works, so I'll keep it! hugz xxxx

  5. Interesting article Angela - I just hope that authors won't suffer too much through all these changes - the big authors will survive - but I'm talking about the emerging or mid-list authors - who can get lost in all this shuffling about.

  6. Joanna, that is a mystery waiting to unfold. x


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