Why book publishers will probably die soon

As you may have read on this blog, I recently wrote a book (in German, unfortunately), and you can order it now from everywhere, including Amazon or libri.de, and the eBook is already in the making. Since my book is available, it became obvious to me that todays book publishers will probably die soon. Here is why:

As programmer running my own software company, I'm a bit experienced in publishing my own products, and used to do marketing and selling, so it was clear for me from the beginning that I would publish that book myself, instead of waiting to get a contract with one of the big book publishers. (BTW, the german book market is the world's second biggest.) Having read somewhere that each of those publishers get sent about 300 manuscripts each day, it was obvious that I had no chance to get through anyway. But when I had most of the book written, I thought it would not do any harm to try it anyway, and send them a so-called 'exposť', including the first 30 pages of the book, as wished by most publishers.

First thing I noticed is that all publishers explicitly demand you to print out the beginning of your book and send all the pages to them. Emails will not be read or answered at all. I checked this with 8 major publishers, it was the same for all of them. Emails were not allowed. Strange. Ok, I thought. Why not. They might have a reason for that. So I printed all those pages and sent all the publishers a hardcopy of the first chapters of the book, which probably caused the death of a small tree.

After a few weeks, the first answers came in. Usually preprinted, automatic responses, where they didn't even tell me why they didn't like my book. But a bit later, I received real feedback from a few publishers: "Yes, thanks, nice book, really cool. But we don't print something like that for now." or sometimes like "Nice science fiction! But we only do this with already known authors." Stuff like that. But I was glad to get feedback at all, and apparently, my book wasn't too bad. What caught my attention was that all of those letters were hand-written. Not a single line done by a machine or a computer. Some even where corrected using Tipp-Ex.

A few months forward: My book is now available on Amazon.de, Amazon.com, all major online book stores and orderable in all real-world book stores. People are buying, reading and liking the book. As planned, I published it using a self-publishing company (BoD.de in my case), and it worked. After Amazon finally also announced their Self-Publishing service, it is obvious that this is the new big thing. Real, traditional, old book publishers are becoming unnecessary. They didn't evolve and will die. Having seen their book review process involving printing out your book and getting hand written responses, refusing the utilization of emails, it seems that they even didn't make the switch to using computers. Seeing that publishing a book without them seems to work as well nicely lets me come to the conclusion that the internet and the eBook will finally kill those dinosaurs soon.

Ah, yes: And buy my book. :)

nine comments, already:

The “recently wrote a book” link leads to the wrong post.
I also think the publishers are quite out of date. Many people might need help in creating and publishing their book, but certainly not in the antique way most publishers provide.
Telepath - 30 12 11 - 01:47

thx, corrected.
niko - 30 12 11 - 08:17

I’m very interested in how (tooling side) you wrote ur book. Which tools did you use and how you did all your work. Perhaps a post about it? :)
Batolo - 30 12 11 - 13:04

It’s a bit embarrassing: I used ms word. Tried Open Office Writer before, but that had some problems with formatting.
niko - 30 12 11 - 13:28

Got your novel for Christmas :D apparently there was some trouble obtaining it, but in the end Amazon delivered it in time. I haven’t looked into it yet but it’ll be up next right after I finish Oryx and Crake…
Pjotr - 30 12 11 - 20:10

Complaining about publishers being old-fashioned while not releasing the book for the Kindle is quite ironic.
TrueTom - 31 12 11 - 01:52

Hm? I wrote in the text that the eBook is still in the making. Or maybe look up the meaning of ironic :)
niko - 31 12 11 - 08:29

There are two areas where publisher’s might be useful. For lector ship and to layout the finale product to make it better readable and such small things. But both services can be bought from the author itself.
Out of curiosity, how did you proof read your book?
mirlix () (link) - 31 12 11 - 17:42

Publishers not only publish your book. They also guarantee quality. They not only proofread the book but let an editor change even major storyline flaws and inconsisencies. Of course you can pay someone to do that but did you?
That said, every time I buy a self published book on amazon for my kindle I regret it later.
tobias3 - 01 01 12 - 14:59


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