Mon 12 Nov 2012
Not only for the current obvious reason, am I very interested in following what’s been going on lately in publishing.
As we hit the ground in Canada, the merger between Penguin and Random House was being announced and it was certainly a topic of conversation for the week long we were there. For small press publishing, I could sit down and look at how this is probably a good thing, in the short term. But in general, I feel quite depressed about the state of publishing – things are grim right now, there’s no pretending they aren’t.
Why the merger and what does it mean? Here is the final wrap up from Seattle Pi in their article A Merger in Publishing – and then there were five:
In the end, what does this merger mean for writers (and readers)? Will the Bertelsmann Foundation’s sink-or-swim economic stance bleed over into the realm of literature? Will Random House/Penguin, now in control of more than a quarter of the entire book market, stick to a bottom line that reduces the supply of ideas while increasing its intellectual price? Will Random House/Penguin, increasingly free from serious competition, no longer feel a need to invest in writers with new ideas, new concepts, new ways of interpreting the world?
Like all things involving dead trees, the new chapter has been prompted in large part by the march of the digital giants, including Amazon, Apple and Google. The print publishers hope their merging of resources will leave them better placed to cope with the onset of the ebook era.
‘In the short term, I don’t see much changing for readers. The battle between retailers and publishers is always about price – the former want lower and the latter want higher. Choice might be affected adversely as there will be fewer publishers to fight over new writers and subsequently fewer risks might be taken by the publisher.‘However, the book industry is fundamentally healthy in that people want to read and for the right handful of books they will read in big numbers.