Friday, September 20, 2013

The Wealth Gap In Publishing & Society

The wealth gap that exists in America can be seen through the eyes of publishing. For all the talk of the self-publishing revolution, the vast majority of the books that sell the most copies are produced by one of the big five publishers or Amazon.

The list of wealthiest Americans recently came out and it showed the top 400 people combined to earn 2.2 trillion dollars in 2012 --way up since they earned a mere 1.27 trillion bucks in just 2009. Meanwhile, the average household income in America was just $52,000 -- down 6% from the $55,000 earned in 2007.

So many authors struggle to sell more than a few hundred copies of their print-on-demand or e-only books. Others may sell a few thousand copies. Only handfuls break through and sell a lot of copies or make a best-seller list.

America has always been a nation of haves and have nots. Publishing is the same way. Even with capitalism and democracy at full throttle, the world is carved up in such a way so that just a small minority is wildly successful and the significant majority lags far, far behind.

What could improve the situation? Does it need improving?

Americans overall and authors in particular, seem to gravitate toward the extremes -- boom or bust, feast or famine. But I’m sure many crave to succeed, as so msny people either win the lottery or waste their time and money trying.

There are many well-written books but so many are poorly distributed and lack marketing, publicity, or advertising. It seems, to be a successful writer, one must be a successful businessperson.

Why is Bill Gates worth $71 billion ot Mark Zuckerberg $19 billion or Oprah $3 billion while so many authors failed to net more than pool money for their sweat and tears? No one is conspiring to ensure the author earns tablescraps but no one is out there making it easier for them to earn more. Still, it seems like the entrance to publishing has gotten easier, but the path to riches has gotten harder.

Maybe all of the free books, free blogs, heavily discounted books, and an over abundance of competing content products has something to do with it. Perhaps the decreased bookstore presence adds to it. Or maybe it’s just society’s way of saying it doesn’t fully value books and writers as much as it does other industries or professions.

America and publishing are on course for a great divide. Which side will you be on?

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

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