Authors Hard Times Ahead…and Behind

penguin all12 Random Penguin Merger Predictions

Sorry, I mean the Penguin Random merger.  I so like random penguin…

Of course the future may hold surprises regarding the Random House/Penguin Group blending…  (See:  Christie/Obama..)

But some writing is pretty visibly on the wall, saltwater wash notwithstanding.

1.)  Authors and agents will worry (justifiably) and object (fruitlessly).

As Scott Turow, president of the Author’s Guild, notes:  “Penguin Random House, our first mega-publisher, would have additional negotiating leverage with the bookselling giants, but that leverage would come at a high cost for the literary market and therefore for readers. There are already far too few publishers willing to invest in nonfiction authors, who may require years to research and write histories, biographies, and other works, and in novelists, who may need the help of a substantial publisher to effectively market their books to readers.”

2.)  Nothing visible will happen for a while.  Behind the scenes, the accountants and lawyers will get very busy.

3.)  Objections will get louder and letters will be written to governmental bodies

4.) Most people, jaded by past fights (see:  Citizens United, Occupy Wall Street, “Amazon Wins!”) will sigh and keep plugging until the plug is pulled.

5.) Most self-publishing advocates will cheer at the shrinkage of traditional houses, missing the price we all pay.

6.)  The merger will happen.  People will talk about the power of the new company.

7.)  Nothing visible will happen for a while.  Behind the scenes, the accountants and lawyers will get very busy.

8.)  The new company will attempt to wield its power to influence pricing and distribution.  It will find only modest success.

9.) In-house, editors will begin to notice more  joint meetings.  Out-of-house, agents will find more difficulty obtaining reasonable deals for their clients.

10.)  In late 2013 or thereabouts, imprints will merge and jobs will be lost. (See:  The Free Press, Touchstone, Bantam, Broadway, Doubleday, Dell, Crown, Atheneum, Pocket, Viking, Ballantine…oh, forget it.  Everybody but Norton.)

11.) Quality literature requiring experienced editorial  support will be the worse for it, and editorial expertise will be devalued.

12.) Editorially focused small presses, many primarily digital, will continue to pop-up, but–I fear–face an even more difficult time getting attention.

And, the baker’s dozen:  we will soldier on.



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