January’s JRW Writing Show discussed trends in publishing with local bookstore owners, Kelly Justice of Fountain Bookstore, Kelly Kyle of Narnia Children’s Books, Ward Tefft of Chop Suey, and Patrick Godfrey of Velocity Comics.
What struck me is what Kyle pointed out: 1) All the major publishers in this country are subsidiaries of foreign companies; 2) and as subsidiaries, editors and publishers have far less control of what they will put in the marketplace as decisions are made higher up in the parent company by executives.
Consider that a book will be selected far more for the commercial tie-ins with the sister companies’ products. They will market the toys, movie and television rights, and other deals, where more of the money will likely be made. Thus the book itself can be priced far below what booksellers would want to sell them for, indeed booksellers may even take a loss. But the parent company will be able to afford that because they view the book as just a hook into the other products that will sell far more.
That is not sustainable for booksellers and ultimately will hurt the industry, at least short-term, as shelves are still by far where most purchase decisions are made and where authors have signings.
What do you think of publishers being a piece of a larger corporation? Long-term, will the selling, reading and author meet-and-greets be electronic and hardcovers a thing of novelty?