For the past several days, novelist Jason Pinter has been posting responses by publishing people to the question “What is one thing you would you do to change book publishing for the better?” There’s a wide range of recommendations, from people in many parts of the industry. Some snippets that I found worth noting (in most cases, these are excepts from longer comments):
I’d get the major publishers together on a standard e-book format, one that’s DRM-free and not tied to a device (like the kindle). Most important, we need to get e-book prices down. Charging the same price (or more!) than a hardcover for a digital file is absolutely ludicrous—we’re hamstringing this technology at a crucial phase in its development.
—David Moldawer, editor, Portfolio/Penguin Books [part 2]
If you’re not passionate about books, get out of this business. If you’re not willing to fight for something better, get out of this business. If you’re not willing to dust yourself off the ground, get out of this business. If you’re not helping others and you’re being selfish about preserving your meager place on the ladder, get out of this business. If on the other hand you’re living in the present and paying attention to the future, and you have the chops and the fortitude to persuade the stubborn holdouts . . . , then you’re absolutely vital to the future of publishing. You’re needed. And you must go in and change things for the better.
Ed Champion, editor of Reluctant Habits and creator of ‘The Bat Segundo Show’ [part 2]
E. Offer higher royalties if the author is willing to forgo part of his/her advance to put it into marketing.
. . .
G. When you sell the hardcover offer the ebook and audio free.
H. For one week, before an authors next release comes out offer a title from that authors backlist as an unlimited free ebooks. Do this for every single author. Do it in audio too.
I. Understand sampling is not five pages-its a totally free book and nothing makes a reader buy a book than being in love with the author’s work.
J. Don’t remainder books. Give them to hotels to so every room has a library and people can discover more books.
—M.J. Rose, author of THE MEMORIST, editor of Buzz, Balls & Hype [part 3]
make all formats of a book available at once – hardcover, trade, mass market, e-book – whatever version people want to buy. . . . If I’m going to buy a book online, why can’t I click on whatever version I’m willing to pay for? Also, I’d like to see e-readers get a lot cheaper, or even be give-aways from e-book of the month clubs or from publishers if you’re willing to agree to buy two dozen books in the next year, like Columbia House used to do. I’d still like to be able to browse bookstores, though, so I wish bookstores would “stock” e-books. I could browse, talk to the staff (the best part of bookstores) and get my e-reader loaded up. I’ve been saying for a while that publishers and booksellers have to stop thinking of themselves as printers, trucking companies and warehouses and start thinking about what it is they really do – choose, design, edit and know their stock and their customers.
—John McFetridge, author of The Toronto Series [part 3]
Publish less. Stop the “spaghetti against the wall” approach of rush-publishing too many barely-edited books that won’t be promoted, budgeted for or even bought into stores and focus on the carefully planned publication of a select number of strong titles in order to give them the marketing and promotional support that they deserve. Retail buyers will be less overwhelmed and won’t reject as many books for being too similar. Editors will be able to actually edit instead of just acquire. Marketing and publicity departments will be able to make solid plans with actual budgets. This requires boards of directors, stockholders, publishers, retail buyers and editors to reevaluate their priorities and profit models but they aren’t currently making a profit so, why not?
—Laura Keefe, Public Relations Manager, Associated Content [part 3]
There are lots more, plus comments, at Mr. Pinter’s site; and he’s still accepting submissions, should you feel moved to weigh in.