Saturday, September 02, 2006

JA Konrath Saves Publishing

Good news! I was rummaging around in the attic today, and came across this old brass oil lamp. I gave it a good buffing, with the intent to sell it on eBay, but after only a few minutes a genie magically appeared. He gave me six wishes (normally genies only give three, but I gave him a really good buffing.)

Being the unselfish guy that I am, I have decided to use these six wishes to save the publishing industry. By happenstance, this also saves the bookselling industry, and manages to save midlist authors as well.

Here are my wishes:

1. Eliminate returns. Returns cost too much money, both in the printing and the shipping, and this cost is absorbed in the price of the product. If there were no longer returns, the prices of books would drop. It would also mean that stores don't stock double the amount of bestsellers that they expect to sell. This extra shelf space could then go to smaller midlist books that aren't normally stocked.

2. Eliminate offset printing. If the major publishers used POD technology, there would no longer be a need for warehouses or distributors. Another drop in price. Plus, books never go out of print. Authors have the potential for royalties indefinitely.

3. Bigger royalties for authors, to correspond with the smaller pricetag on books.

4. Extra content on books without extra cost. Books could come packaged with the audio version and Palmreader version bundled with the print version on a single DVD. It could also include interviews, pictures, perhaps even video.

5. Equal discounts. The indies pay the same amount as the big box stores, no matter how many are ordered. That will mean a drop in the sales at big box stores, but it would be a boom for the indies and the chains.

6. Bookselling is taught in college. How much would it benefit authors, bookstores, and people who love to read, if you could major in book sales? Book stores could hire people with specialized degrees, people who were extremely well-read and know the dynamics of the book business. I've met booksellers who have literally handsold thousands of books. What if every bookseller was like this?

The genie assured me that these wishes will come true, but he hemmed and hawed a bit about how long it was going to take.

I have faith, though. Lots of faith.

In the meantime, I'm searching my attic for another lamp, because the music industry is really a disaster.