Wednesday, March 26, 2014
HOW TO RUN A PUBLISHING COMPANY
Last July I wrote a blog post about how to run a bookstore:
* Unobtrusive music, café with coffee and snacks, free WiFi for visitors.
* Books and items related to books, CDs and periodicals. No toys or stuffed pillows.
* Self-published books by local authors in a separate, well-marked section.
* Book signings, many by local authors.
* The scent of chocolate.
Now that I’ve solved that problem, how about fixing traditional publishing? Well, Hugh Howey already did it, pretending to be the CEO of the “New Harper-Collins.” Here are his major suggestions in a brief list.
* Move out of New York and into small quarters elsewhere.
* Put an end to the return system. It makes no sense and is bad for the environment.
* Get books out in less than 18 months. If it can be done for late-breaking news, why not always?
* Use Print-on-Demand. Encourage the use of the Espresso Book Machine.
* Do away with DRM. If fact, piracy puts books in the hands of readers.
* Brand books with the name of the author or Genre. Readers don’t care who published the book.
* Publish books digitally first, then produce hard-covers and trade paper at the same time. And lower the prices.
* Pay authors a minimum of 50% on e-books. And pay them every month, not twice a year.
* Eliminate non-compete clauses in contracts. Ditto restrictions on how many books an author can put up.
* Limit license terms to no more than five years.
* Offer free books from time to time or “Buy five and get one free" programs.
I love all these ideas, and, perhaps, some day, legacy publishers will embrace them. Just don’t hold your breath until then.