Wednesday, March 26, 2014


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.


  1. Hi Phyllis,

    I've always had a hard time with piracy, but those who steal usually have little to no money anyway. Perhaps, a book will inspire them enough through examples of what is possible to lift themselves out of poverty. I'm on the fence.


    1. Bob: Thanks for the comment. I think most authors agree that pirates probably weren't going to buy your book anyway. It's a reason to keep prices low and, if they read your book and like it, might pay for the next one or two.

  2. Excellent ideas. I would love to see the traditional publishers abide by them. Thanks for posting the abbreviated version, Phyllis, for those of us without time for the entire article.

    1. Morgan:
      You're welcome and thanks for the comment. When you have time, read Hugh's blog for more details and insight. I think changes, in time, will come. Look what's happening to Harlequin. because of the way they treated authors, they're losing both money and writers.


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