Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch on the Future of Publishing

Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch on the Future of PublishingI’ve been hearing about the demise of book publishing since the first day I stepped through the doors of a publisher back in 1978. But here we are still, publishers like Little, Brown, with histories going back 100 and 200 years. What other American industry has companies still in existence after two centuries, evolving and modernizing but still doing much the same work? The most recent variant of the death watch: A digital revolution would cause ebooks to replace printed ones, authors would overwhelmingly choose self-publishing, and publishers would follow carriage makers into oblivion.

After several years of rapid ebook growth, their sales topped out at about one-quarter of publishers’ revenues and have declined for a year. Print books have proved durable because, as a format, they’re simply hard to improve on. Music, movies and TV were all fundamentally altered because digitization allowed readers to experience those entertainments anywhere. Books were portable the day they were invented. Other forms have only just caught up.

And self-publishing? It’s grown hugely as an option for writers who want to reach readers directly. But writers like to be paid, in advance, for their work.

Much more.

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Self-Publishing Your NaNoWriMo Book? Don’t Miss These Steps! (BookBub)
If you finished National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) with a complete 50K word draft, congratulations! Last year, only 18 percent of people who started NaNoWrimo finished, so getting this far is a huge accomplishment. And for those of you who decide to self-publish your work instead of seeking traditional publication, you can find the experience of selling your own work and reaching readers directly incredibly rewarding. But there’s one important thing to remember: your NaNoWriMo book is most likely not ready for the masses today.

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Twitter is one of my favorite platforms. Using Twitter, I found my first writing mastermind group, landed podcast interviews with power influencers like Problogger’s Darren Rowse, and was once retweeted by Vanilla Ice. Twitter is the quickest way to interact with both the authors you love and the readers you hope to have for your books.

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Amazon announced on Tuesday that it had the best sales weekend ever for its consumer devices over the Black Friday weekend, despite recent reports of confusion at its hardware unit. The best selling products were the 7-inch Fire tablet and the Fire TV streaming device, each seeing a 6x and 3x bump in sales, respectively, compared to the same period last year.

Authors Must ‘Engage’ in Publishing Process (Bookseller)
Both traditionally and self-published authors need to be “engaged,” traditional publishers have to be open to new voices from different backgrounds, tricky rights issues need to be tackled, but ultimately traditional and indie author communities need to come together. Those are some of the main discussion points at yesterday’s Author Day, The Bookseller’s inaugural conference aimed at exploring a “common understanding” between writers and publishers.

Tearing Our Passions to Tatters (Porter Anderson)
Personally I’ve never cared for the word “succinct.” Maybe you’ve noticed. Well, of course you have. But the terrifying events in Paris last weekend brought home something I’d been trying to clarify for myself for some time. It’s about how we handle issues of craft and industry in publishing. And it’s my provocation for you today. What if we’re over-thinking, overwriting, overdoing just about everything we touch in publishing? Because we can.

How The Washington Post Edged the New York Times in Web Traffic (Digiday)
The Washington Post proclaimed itself “America’s new publication of record” after it broke another online traffic record in October, surpassing the New York Times for the first time. There are a lot of factors that have impacted the Post’s traffic, including a broad distribution strategy through social platforms and apps, an effort to speed the site load-time and the news cycle.


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