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Monday, April 29, 2013

The Immense Impact of Digital Distribution

E-Books & Digital Distribution

The core reason digital devastated legacy/traditional publishing is, quite simply, digital distribution (DD).

In the pre-digital era authors had to give up 85% of their take to get the only distribution available - Costly? You damn right.

In the post-digital era authors can get the same distribution for only 30% - Better? You damn right.

Let’s analyze DD a little tonight.

Briefly, distributionin the paper world requires trucks, warehouses, a sales force, and longstanding relationships with buyers at dozens of retail operations --- In digital, distribution is a push-button à la carte service offered by companies like Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google, Kobo, and Smashwords. An author so inclined can buy digital distribution for 30% of the list price of the book s/he's publishing – the same digital distribution a legacy publisher offers – and outsource all other publishing functions, all for significantly less than legacy publishers charge for their packaged service.

This now from Barry Eisler reporting in The Guardian:

The digital truths traditional publishers don't want to hear

The choices offered by digital publishing can only be good news for writers, says Barry Eisler. So why are traditional publishers so angry?

Until November 2007, when Amazon introduced the Kindle, the only viable means of book distribution was paper. Accordingly, a writer who wanted to reach a mass audience needed a paper distribution partner. A writer could hire her own editor and her own cover design artist; she could even hire a printing press to create the actual books. The one service she couldn't hire out was distribution. And publishers didn't offer distribution as an à la carte service. If a writer wanted distribution, she had to pay a publisher 85% of her revenues for the entire publishing package: editorial, copyediting, proofreading, jacket design, printing, and marketing, all bundled with distribution.
Was a price of 85% of revenues a good deal for this packaged publishing service? For some writers, it clearly was. JK Rowling became a cash billionaire via the traditional packaged publishing service, and obviously there are hundreds of other examples of authors for whom the packaged service has represented a good value.
But for every author who wanted and benefited from the packaged service, there were countless others who took it – if they could get it at all – only because they had no alternative.
Digital distribution has provided that alternative. And increasing numbers of authors are choosing it.
Digital book distribution is available to anyone who wants it. What in the paper world requires trucks, warehouses, a sales force, and longstanding relationships with buyers at dozens of retail operations, in digital is a push-button à la carte service offered by companies like Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google, Kobo, and Smashwords. An author so inclined can buy digital distribution for 30% of the list price of the book she's publishing – the same digital distribution a legacy publisher offers – and outsource all other publishing functions, all for significantly less than legacy publishers charge for their packaged service.
Tens of thousands of writers newly presented with the lower-priced, à la carte choice of self-publishing are taking it. Many others prefer the traditional route. Some are embracing a hybrid approach, doing one book with a legacy publisher, another with Amazon Publishing, and yet another by self-publishing.












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