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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