Lots of publishing news today

Some of it worth a comment.

Amazon launches a short story series with well-known authors selling digital short pieces. ( reveries – cool news of the day.) I was asked by Amazon to jump in and I declined. The reasoning at their end is simple: they should be a publisher. They have every element necessary to be a successful publisher:
a. access to readers who want to hear from them
b. knowledge of what those readers want
c. infinite shelf space
d. cash to act as a VC for authors who demand upfront money

Barnes & Noble is secretly making a fortune as a publisher (check out the front of the retail store next time you’re there) and Amazon is way, way bigger.

Alas, I think digital and I think short are the two worst ways to start. The first two ways you know if you want to buy a book is to either read part of it or hear about it from a friend. Well, if it’s short and you read part of it, you’re done. And if it’s digital, your friend ought to just send it to you.

The third way to decide you want a book is that the author is someone you know and trust. But if that’s the only thing a publisher has to offer (the famous author) then the author gets most of the money in her advance, because, after all, it’s her brand not the publisher’s that’s selling the thing. Lots of online platforms are facing this very same challenge.

I’ve been pushing Amazon to become of a publisher of just about everything for five or six years now. Alas, I’m dubious about the success of this effort. I hope they don’t give up when it doesn’t take off.

The second thing is the New York Times piece that seems to think that free ebooks were just invented and might be the next big thing. Longtime readers will be surprised at this insight. Try this Google link to see what I mean: (ideavirus – Google Search.)

The third article also comes from the Times. Once a Booming Market, Educational Software for the PC Takes a Nose Dive – New York Times. It talks about the death of the educational software market. That was my very first job, in 1984, with Spinnaker Software, the firm widely credited with inventing the educational computer game. It was a very exciting time. The company grew 10x a year, and suddenly this was a real industry.

Like most industries, everyone thought it would last forever. It didn’t. They don’t. Yours probably won’t either.