Future of Publishing
2(DEC) which, at the time, built the best computing hardware, said, “There is no need for anyindividual to have a computer in their home.”Time-Warner/AOL, Sears and IBM survived, but are swimming in the wake of Dell,Google, Amazon, etc.Three mistakes will plague the six huge publishing conglomerates, a.k.a., the Six Sisters:first, their blockbuster profit model is unsustainable; second, they’re not capable of marketingthose titles that are in the market segment with the greatest profit potential; and, third, they’vestopped nurturing the majority of their talent with the editorial and promotional nutritionnecessary for them to blossom into bestselling authors, the so-called mid-list authors whose earlyefforts showed enough promise to be published, but didn’t return a profit. It looks a lot like whatsickened Time-Warner/AOL, Sears and IBM and killed DEC.Publishers’ role as the gatekeepers of quality has always been dubious. Do book buyers have brand loyalty? Do you check the publisher before buying a book? Once we jump the low hurdleof spelling, grammar and minimal storytelling skill, literary merit is nearly as subjective as your favorite color. If it were objectively quantifiable, literary merit would measure profit potential(though one cynically suspects that merit and profit might exhibit an inverse relationship). In aworld where musicians can sell their best songs on iTunes, the only thing maintaining publishing’s quality-control role is the carefully manicured perception that self-publishing isanathema to aspiring professional authors.The publishing company that turns the corner, leaving the Six Sisters in the dust, will leavewill leave quality control to authors – even grammar and spelling.The obvious candidates include Yahoo and Amazon, but I think they are already too big andstodgy to make the move; Google has everything necessary on its place, but might be toofragmented to make the move; the big self-publishing companies Lulu and iUniverse are wellCopyright 2009 Ransom Stephens, Ph.D.