Friday, February 5, 2010

Publishing is stuck in the 19th century

Finally vented publicly about the whole Amazon/Macmillan mess, over at a TeleRead post that Scalzi twitter-snarled at.  Repeated below for posterity:

Two things:
1) @Hal Duncan: You are describing exactly what is wrong with the present-day publishing industry. It sells a low-cost product for a higher price to the biggest fans, only because they are the biggest fans, and only lowers the price down toward marginal cost once it squeezes what it can out of them, and then tries to trick them into thinking that the average reader is paying less because they’re buying a cheap, crappy mass-market book. Present-day publishing works the way it does only because it can create artificial scarcity in order to extort the most frenzied consumers. It’s impossible to pretend that a digital product is scarce, and so now the veil is being lifted. The simple fact is that first-release hardcovers are a scam!
2) I lost my faith in Scalzi in this whole mess, when he claimed that what keeps him from going with Baen and their somewhat more rational model, is they they won’t give him cover approval. And yet, he routinely chuckles publicly over the cover choices made by his foreign publishers, proving that it’s not really that big a deal to him, as long as they sell more of his books.