As a full-time author, it’s hard not to spend large parts of the day contemplating the future of publishing. These are indeed interesting times. Ebooks are finally beginning to make an impact on the public consciousness if not their pocketbooks – yet.
But eBooks are coming, make no mistake about it. Where does that leave me? When I started out, gentlemen publishers were still around. They would make up their mind about a book on the spot and would often have the contract in the post the next day. Now that’s what I call doing business! It was fun, but things changed.
As each of my publishers were bought out, I tended to follow my editors, as that was where my loyalties lay. They moved, the publishers they moved to were taken over, and again they moved on until there was nowhere left to move on to.
All the little publishers became parts of the giants until there are now really only a handful of mega corporate trade and general publishers left. New publishers start out with the intention of selling out when they can.
So what will happen next?
I recently had a vision of a possible future. You could say that Google and Amazon are making the edges between distributers and publishers a bit fuzzy – Google with Youtube and Google Books, Amazon with the Kindle. These two organisations will soon realise that distribution is not enough if the other begins to own the rights to the content.
When these two go head to head, there is going to be a bloodbath! The rights to all the copyrighted content in the world will be bought up as they slog it out, buying up publishers and their rights.
Of course there is also Apple sitting quietly on the sidelines… they are sitting on a huge mountain of cash. The ipad and the iStore are brilliant distribution systems waiting to be fully exploited. How soon before Apple, Google or Amazon make their first bid to buy Pearson or Hachette? Not long, I predict.
And what stupid politician is going to stand in the way of the juggernauts, holding their hands up and blathering about monopoly? None.
What do you reckon?