Editor's Note: Who's Eating Your Cake?
Other author-publisher relationships are being tried by the battle over e-rights as well, and many publishers hold fast that e-rights are assumed under publishing rights.
What's that saying again … "Divided we …," something or other?
People have feared an Amazon stranglehold on the market, being the largest e-booktailer (inventing words with "e" in them seems to be "in" today) and leading e-reader maker, and the Covey deal is just one more cause for concern.
In this issue's cover story, "The Future of the Industry: Whose Hands Is It In?", Innodata Isogen's Richard Rubin, author of a recent whitepaper about publishing strategies, poses, "If Amazon opens up a formal publishing arm and says, 'We are the biggest player out there,' … how can [a traditional publisher] compete with that?"
But I have to wonder why Amazon would want a publishing arm? It seems it already has its cake and is eating it, too—in fact, it may soon be eating your cake while you're not looking.
It doesn't have to invest up front in finding and developing authors and content. It doesn't have to project sales, print advance copies, store unsold inventory, or ship returns back and forth. And it seems to be able to price others' e-books however it wants and take a full share of the profits.
I believe books (in any format) will always need publishers. They will need the skills offered by great editors (editing as well as market insights), as well as marketing know-how and resources. Without publishers, a marketplace flooded with every book ever written by every Joe Schmoe under the sun would be just that—flooded. Diamonds would, with few exceptions, get lost in the rough, with no one to find them, polish them up and present them to the marketplace.