Here’s an interesting post at The Passive Guy: The “Big Change” era in trade book publishing ended about four years ago. It starts with an extensive quote from veteran publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin:
…as publishers, retailers, libraries, and their ecosystem partners prepare for whatever is next, it becomes increasingly evident that — from the perspective of trade publishing at least — we have already lived through the biggest period of transition. It took place from sometime in 2007 through 2012. … At the beginning of 2007, there was no Kindle. By the end of 2011, there was no Borders.
Yep, big changes, all right. No one is going to disagree with that part. Shatzkin goes on:
[T]he challenges of today aren’t about change of the magnitude that was being coped with in the period that ended five years ago. They’re more about improving workflows and processes, learning to use new tools, and integrating new people with new skill sets into the publishing business. … It isn’t that there aren’t still many of new things to work on, new opportunities to explore, or long-term decisions to make. But the editor today can sign a book and expect a publishing environment when it comes out in a year or two roughly like the one we have today. The editor in 2010 couldn’t feel that confidence.
This seems plausible to me, but I see The Passive Guy thinks this is a bunch of hooey:
Unfortunately, the predictions in the OP represent a typical pattern of thinking in an industry swept up by disruptive technology. The survivors of early changes think, “It’s going to stop now. Nothing happened to me last year or last month, so nothing will happen to me next month and next year.”
PG doesn’t think this is the case for Big Publishing and its ecosystem.
Why? Big Publishing is simply too expensive. It costs everyone too much.
And I must say, that seems plausible, too. Among other things, The Passive Guy points to the high ebook prices we’re seeing from the Big Five publishers . . . I will add here, not from Saga! Which, yay! has the basic economic sense to think that possibly price might affect sales. But it’s certainly true that we see very, very high ebook prices for a lot of authors when there is no obvious reason to think that readers are willing to pay that much. I don’t mean the newest from Lois McMaster Bujold or Ilona Andrews. Lots of readers ARE willing to pay a lot for their new releases, obviously. But I see, for example, that Too Like the Lightning, Ada Palmer’s debut SF novel which just came out, is offered for $12.99 (Tor). That’s quite a price to hang on a debut novel. In contrast, Dark Run, a debut SF novel from Mike Brooks (Saga), is available for $7.99 — still higher than some readers will pay, but I’m sure far less off-putting than a price tag above $10.
While I looked for debut novel prices of recent releases, I noticed that Roses and Rot, Kat Howard’s debut novel from Saga, is $1.99 today. I haven’t read it, so this isn’t actually a recommendation as such, but if you were thinking of picking it up, I bet you find that more appealing than $12.99.