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Discussion Starter #2
Quote from NY TIMES article:

"For literary agents and authors, the wave of consolidations has meant fewer potential buyers for books from authors without a proven track record.

“There are projects that would have sold for $150,000 years ago that might not sell at all now to the big five, whereas the book that would have sold for $500,000 might go for a million,” said the literary agent David Kuhn. “They would rather go in bigger for the thing that they have the most consensus on.”

Some industry analysts say the sale will accelerate a long-running trend that has taken hold over the last decade, as publishers have grown more dependent on blockbuster titles and backlist sales, resulting in fewer opportunities for new writers and midlist authors."
 

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I'm hoping the new company gets named Simon the Random Penguin.

 

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One wonders: is it the economy, the rise of independent publishing, or both that is driving this consolidation?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The Authors Guild is one of many "associations" going bananas over this merger.  Many traditionally published authors are about to be tossed into the pool with the rest of us.

Mark
 

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Oh dread. I saw it coming but not this soon. I still, and will always call these legacy monsters ambulance chasers. It's platform, reader base, name brand and celebrity and topical grandstanding (not to forget notoriety), that trumps story, which are crafted by debut and mid-list authors. All of our eggs in one basket for the massive blockbuster, says they. Fine, you go ahead then. Pretty soon, there will be no such thing as a "breakout." In that I mean a relatively new author that sets the world on fire. If they're not going to take a chance on it, they'll never find it. I'm nervously thinking about calling my agent, to hear if she knows anymore skuttlebutt. I'm in small press limbo right now, but I know I'm headed for the axe next. I think Indie publishing will eventually be in an all-out war with what's left of the Big-5, or...I assume now, Big-4.
 

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Corona will undoubtedly accelerate the consolidation process. Perhaps there may be just the big two. I mean, it's conceivable. In one of the articles linked, the company in question had revenues decline by 46% over the past year (with sales declining around 38% during the same period).

Over the next year or two I'm sure that we shall see a lot more indie authors, and they won't be the typical newbies who are just starting in the writing game. That's my guess, anyway.

I think the main factor that's scary is that this isn't happening during an economic boom, when readers are flush with money, and where it's merely a reorganization of the entire industry. It's happening during a downturn, when many people are scraping to get by.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Before writing, I spent years working in Finance.  Companies sadly take advantage of rough times to make decisions to consolidate and downsize that they were planning to make anyway. Things like pandemic gives them a reason so they feel or seem less "dirty"...but truth is this has been coming for a while.

I checked out sales numbers in the Teen and Young adult category for 2020 (they were listed on Publishers Weekly)...the top novel had more sales than the 2nd novel on the list by a factor of 10! Pure insanity...it is either going to be celebrity/famous people or established money makers who get the deals.

The trads will be pumping out the same stuff now over and over again...until people stop buying.

Mark
 

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markpauloleksiw said:
Before writing, I spent years working in Finance. Companies sadly take advantage of rough times to make decisions to consolidate and downsize that they were planning to make anyway. Things like pandemic gives them a reason so they feel or seem less "dirty"...but truth is this has been coming for a while.

I checked out sales numbers in the Teen and Young adult category for 2020 (they were listed on Publishers Weekly)...the top novel had more sales than the 2nd novel on the list by a factor of 10! Pure insanity...it is either going to be celebrity/famous people or established money makers who get the deals.

The trads will be pumping out the same stuff now over and over again...until people stop buying.

Mark
Yes, it's definitely a 'rich get richer' situation. Before too long, Brandon Sanderson will be a publishing house unto himself. I suppose, effectively, he already is. He's definitely prolific enough.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Authors are becoming "Brands" and actually Amazon now refers to them the same way.

BRands in that the authors "subcontract" out the work and put their name on it. Most traditional readers are only shown or put in front of their faces a smaller and smaller selection of "authors".

Recent examples are Tolkien, where they are putting together scraps of paper together into "works". Michael Crichton died years ago...and there are "writers" finishing off incomplete manuscripts...etc...

Mark
 

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jb1111 said:
One wonders: is it the economy, the rise of independent publishing, or both that is driving this consolidation?
This article claims the merger is a competitive response to Amazon's market dominance -- https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/11/penguin-random-house-simon-schuster-monster-about-amazon/617209/.

The article states that Amazon publishes 49% of all new books, while the newly merged company would account for about 33% of them. (Unfortunately the article doesn't precisely define what it means by "new books".)

What ever happened to the days when the US enforced its anti-trust laws?
 

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Could be sour grapes on my part, but I've been disappointed by the content of at least half of the print books I've read in the past couple years, from The Girl on the Train, to Grisham's Grey Mountain, Camino Island, and The Whistler, to the last few Stephen King issues. At least "Girl" was from a newer author, but releases from older authors like King, Grisham, Robin Cook (the list goes on) pale in comparison to their earlier novels.

Unfortunately, because many publishers have been reluctant to sign new (yes, especially mid-list) authors, they have become overly reliant on old favorites, and those aging authors can't produce what they used to. So, HMH, PP, S&S, you reap what you sow. Fail to plant, you got no crops to harvest. Serves them right.
 

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Flying Pizza Pie said:
Could be sour grapes on my part, but I've been disappointed by the content of at least half of the print books I've read in the past couple years, from The Girl on the Train, to Grisham's Grey Mountain, Camino Island, and The Whistler, to the last few Stephen King issues. At least "Girl" was from a newer author, but releases from older authors like King, Grisham, Robin Cook (the list goes on) pale in comparison to their earlier novels.

Unfortunately, because many publishers have been reluctant to sign new (yes, especially mid-list) authors, they have become overly reliant on old favorites, and those aging authors can't produce what they used to. So, HMH, PP, S&S, you reap what you sow. Fail to plant, you got no crops to harvest. Serves them right.
I think these mega-publishers offer a lot leniency to their famous stable authors in that those authors don't really have to come up with something new, fresh or really different, but rather just come up with something. Could be a rehash of something done before, covering old ground or just some plot-less dribble. It's the name game and nothing says that better that the giant font size of the author's name over that of the title of the book. They take it for granted that these fans will buy the next big one from that big author. It's an auto-buy. The Land of the Painted Caves comes to mind--what a crippling blow to the serious fans of that multi-book legacy. Redundancy ad nauseum. If complacency is allowed to rule, we won't get anything new because it won't be encouraged. Editors will look the other way--their jobs might even get a lot easier.

From the Italie/Jordans article Seattle Times:

"Under the new company, authors would range from John Grisham and Stephen King to Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Every living former or current American president, from Jimmy Carter to Donald Trump, will have published a book with the new company. So will first ladies such as Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama."

From the perspective of a fiction writer, I didn't need to read an author lineup like that one.
 

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chrisstevenson said:
From the Italie/Jordans article Seattle Times:

"Under the new company, authors would range from John Grisham and Stephen King to Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Every living former or current American president, from Jimmy Carter to Donald Trump, will have published a book with the new company. So will first ladies such as Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama."

From the perspective of a fiction writer, I didn't need to read an author lineup like that one.
Ah, so they are going for the market of books that people feel like they are supposed to read. Stephen King aside. He's cool. Maybe I just don't get who is buying these presidential/first lady books. They feel like pure vanity. Like, what can you really get from reading a lopsided, semi-fictitious glimpse into a real person's life? The story either won't be true or won't be explained. The ending is public knowledge. The lessons will be whatever they think you want to hear. And the entire thing will come from somebody who just realized one day, words+pages=easy money.

Heh, I get that these books aren't for me, but I guess I just don't understand it. Seems kinda like reading a long boujee commercial.
 

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More and more, the big publishers only seem to sign "names" -- celebrities, well-known politicians, talking heads from cable TV, and the like. Or the "factory" book producers like Patterson or Grisham.

Permitting a publishing oligopoly benefits a few big corporations at the expense of both readers and authors.
 

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Long may the big publisher(s) reign. If all those huge names started paying editors and cover designers and releasing their work as 4.99 ebooks, it would completely disrupt the market. Imagine competing with Big Name backlist titles on every single promo site, for a start.

Now, while they're busy swimming in one pool, indies get the other pretty much to themselves.
 

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I've read so many paperbacks written by big names lately that just don't cut the mustard. They were million sellers. No1 in their categories and in the bestsellers list in certain publications. But there's a silver lining. While they're all there, it gives us a chance to shine as readers will look elsewhere to read something different.

 
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