Friday, June 7, 2013

In praise of: the Listener

The new issue has an excellent, rational and well-informed – editorial on the state of NZ book publishing in light of the Penguin-Random house merger and the recent announcements by HarperCollins (closing local distribution, moving editorial to Australia) and Pearson (possibly closing NZ office). Of the merger, the Listener says that:
the simple truth is that authors will have one fewer place to send their popular fiction, gardening guide and cookbook manuscripts. More decisions will be made across the ditch, which will be of particular concern to local mass-market authors, as Australian publishers are widely perceived in the industry to not have a clue about our likes and dislikes.
They don’t know, and don’t know that they don’t know.
The Commerce Commission notes that the number of books being published was falling before the merger announcement. E-books, print on demand and self-publishing are all growing. But publishing moguls such as Annabel Langbein are few and far between. E-books make up about 3% of the market, but thanks to the shrinkage of serious media, the number of publicity and reviewing opportunities for digital and self-published titles is vanishingly small. Self-published authors are all but invisible.
True, which is why publishers are so important.

Bravely, the editorial suggests that we might have been publishing too many books. Privately many publishers and some authors agree – but they say it’s the other people who publish too much, not them.

You can read the full text here.

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