Friday, March 27, 2020

The Publishing Times They Are A Changin’

What change in the publishing landscape over the past decade and a half has impacted you the most?

by Paul D. Marks

There’s a lot of things one could say here: social media, Netflix et al, because they take time from people reading. Smart phones and other things that have shortened our attention span and added to our need for things in short, fast, adrenalin-inducing bites. All of these have affected publishing, even if they’re not directly publishing. But if I had to pick one thing it would be Amazon—on several levels.

When Amazon started they were mainly a book seller. Then, if I remember correctly, they expanded into CDs and videos. Now, of course, they sell everything. You could probably buy a submarine on there if you wanted to. But they still sell books. And they’ve changed how books are published and sold.

And then there’s the Kindle (and like-minded devices). Instant gratification: you don’t even need a bookstore anymore. Other people do it too, Nook, Kobo, et al, but Amazon seems to have gotten the ball rolling. You can order any time of day or night and your book magically appears. And while I have a Kindle app on my tablet and do read books on it occasionally, I still prefer hardcover or paperback books. Call me Ishmael, uh, I mean call me old-fashioned. But in this coronavirus time of house arrest, er, sheltering in place it’s nice to know you can download a book that’s never been touched or breathed on by anyone else….

That said, these devices, along with being able to order books so easily on line and have them arrive in a couple of days, led the way to the demise of many brick and mortar bookstores, though I keep hearing that bookstores and paper books are making a comeback just like vinyl.

Amazon also made self-publishing a real thing and that has definitely changed the publishing landscape. Now there are more authors than you can throw a book at. And self-publishing has pluses and minuses, like most everything else. It’s given a lot more opportunity to a lot more people and it’s also opened up publishing to people who maybe should really be thinking of another line of work. I use it to self-publish single previously published stories. And it works pretty well.

Amazon also gives us an opportunity to push our books like never before. And to see “instant” ratings. To get reviews by customers and give them. Which can also be frustrating when we want to respond to a bad review, especially one that might not have anything to do with the actual content of a book, but we bite our tongues.

There are also the scammers who manage to find a way to manipulate the numbers and get their books at the top of the list. Or the sock puppeteers who post fake reviews to get more attention or take attention away from their rivals. But I think—I hope—these seem to be happening less and less.
As a writer, I think Amazon opened the floodgates to a huge variety of books that the old traditional publishing world would never have allowed through the gates. Some good, some bad, but overall better for writers and readers to have more choices. Also, older and more obscure books stay in print forever and are easier to get.

I know some people have complaints about Amazon and some are valid. But overall I think Amazon has been a boon to publishing, and especially to writers. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


And now for the usual BSP:

Coming June 1st from Down & Out Books - The Blues Don't Care:

"The Blues Don’t Care is a fun, atmospheric look at 1940s Los Angeles that almost perfectly captures the tone of all those old black and white gangster movies of the day. Bobby Saxon is such a fan of those films himself that he uses them as training films in his quest to make himself into a detective capable of solving a murder the police have little interest in solving for themselves. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it makes him crazily reckless. And that’s exactly why The Blues Don’t Care is so much fun. (Well, that and one other thing about Bobby you’re going to have to learn for yourself – trust me.)" Sam Sattler, Book Chase

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Dietrich Kalteis said...

I'm more for printed books too, Paul, but those ebooks sure come in handy – and It's good to have variety.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks for your comment, Dietrich. They do come in handy, and I do like being able to buy one on the spur of the moment at 3am just cause I got a whim. That, to me, is the best part about e-books.

GBPool said...

I read both paper and e-books. Since most bookstores in my area are gone, Amazon does come in handy. I have been reading older auhors recently, but will pick up a few new books uring this shutdown because it will help the situation. My books are published in both formats just to make it easier for readers. The big publishing companies might want to lower prices so folks can afford them and sell more books. It's a great time to get bck to reading.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

It does seem as if Amazon has had much to do with the demise of brick and mortar bookstores. I do hope they will make a comeback. Coronavirus should help ebook sales.

Terry said...

Very thoughtful post, Paul. The good, the bad, and the...the fact is that the publishing industry has changed and we all have had to adjjust to it.

AJ Wilcox said...

I also read both print and eBooks. I love that if I read the first book in a series that I enjoy, I can then buy the next book and have it delivered in seconds. Many of my favorite books I have both the printed and electronic copies of.

Susan C Shea said...

Yes, Amazon. Paradigm shift. Thanks, Paul.

Jennifer J. Chow said...

I read both print and e-books, but I like that the electronic versions save on shelf space. Amazon is, overall, a positive shift for writers--it's how both readers and an editor found me. I'm hoping, though, that indie bookstores continue to thrive.

Publishing is changing right this minute, as events shift to the virtual realm--we'll see what that means down the road.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks for your comment, Gayle. I wish the big publishers would heed your advice and lower prices. Some Kindle or e-books are even relaly expensive. And it’s definitely a great time to get back to reading.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks for your comment, Jacqueline. I keep hearing that indie bookstores are popping up all over, so maybe there’s hope. But in the short term I think you’re right, this situation will help e-book sales.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Terry. Unfortunately, for good or ill, I guess we do have to adjust. And I don’t think changes are really done yet. We’ll see what happens in the future.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks for your comment, AJ. That’s so cool about having both the print and e-versions of the book. I have a few of those but mostly one or the other.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Susan. Wish I had thought to call it a paradigm shift :-) .

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks for your comment, Jennifer. That’s great that an editor found you via Amazon. And I hope indie stores thrive, too. I hope they all do, big and little. But you’re right, publishing changing at this minute and I’m not sure it will settle down into a new normal any time soon.