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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Will The Curtain Close On The Book Publishing Circus?



The “Greatest Show on Earth” folded its tents forever after its final performance this past week.  The Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus has entertained generations of kids and families for the past 146 years.  It is indeed the end of an era and one of the greatest rings in entertainment history.  It’s hard to believe the circus is dead in America.

The circus cited greater production costs and waning ticket sales in an era where everyone self-entertains through a digital box as the final nail in the coffin.  Decades of protests by animal rights groups didn’t help either.

But I think that something that found itself to be profitable for a century and a half but is now no more, is hard to comprehend. It would be like Major League Baseball just closing its doors or Hollywood studios shutting movie theaters – or book publishers closing up shop.  But it’s no longer impossible to envision a dark day when any or all those things disappear.

Look, one day cars that you drive may not be consumer options.  The entire marketplace is changing and as science, technology, and demographics shift dramatically, so will the things we take for granted as being useful staples of our culture and society.  So I pose to you the unthinkable – or the inevitable:  Will book publishing one day cease to exist?

Books can be self-published by anyone.  Many authors bypass publishers and distribute directly to consumers.  Will they completely eviscerate traditional publishers?

Traditional publishers still perform many valuable tasks when it comes to editing, cover design, distribution, rights sales, foreign sales, and nurturing an author’s brand.  But for authors who don’t want to share profits with the middleman and who don’t believe publishers really benefit them, they will seek out alternative publishing options.  The gatekeeper era is over.

On the other hand, most authors do not make significant money self-publishing. They have start-up costs to get their book in shape.  Then they invest in marketing packages to improve their distribution.  They may also hire a book publicist.  They will find they have to do or oversee every aspect of publishing, sales, and marketing.  They have editorial control and feel free, but they too are not living in a panacea.

So what’s the best solution?

I think hybrid publishing makes a lot of sense, where writers and publishers bear expense burdens fairly – and share in the profits more equitably.  It’s a developing phenomenon that’s sure to catch on over time.

There should be some form of a book publishing industry for decades to come, even if it seems like a free Internet and technological distractions are poised to push it to extinction down the road.  

Is book publishing following the path of the big-tent circus – or will it correct course and find a way to still prove profitable and useful to the new world?

Time to send in the clowns, if for nothing else, to provide comic relief and rid our brains of the burden of having to even contemplate a future without a book publishing industry.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs 


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