Call it a step in the right direction, or call it what it is… two of the “Big 5″ publishers grasping at straws because they’re EXTREMELY late to the party.
Either way, Penguin and Random House have made the decision to join forces to become, drumroll please… Penguin Random House. Pretty creative, right?
Yeah, I’m a little disappointed in the name. I was pulling for Penguin House, but what can I say? It’s not like they’re good with words or anything…
The goal of this alliance (some might call it an unholy alliance) is to gain a leverage in negotiations with Amazon, build their ebooks business, and to minimize the costs of their physical book operation through consolidation (read: downsizing): Printing, warehouses, shipping, etc.
As the ebook market explodes — it doubled last year, according to the WSJ — most of the major publishers have been slow to embrace what should be a windfall. Because digital publishing IS lucrative, just ask Amazon… or E. L. James.
ePublishing not only makes sense from a technology standpoint, but from a cost/benefit perspective as well. Sure, printing and transporting paper books has obvious costs built-in, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that publishers often have to buy back the unsold books left at bookstores!!
So you might expect that publishers would embrace a format that reduces the cost of bringing a book to market… and reduces the risk of returns. Instead, they fought it.
Sadly, it’s all too reminiscent of the music industry’s begrudging reaction to digital. A decade later, the music publishing business is just starting to get back on its feet.
Hopefully, the ePub revolution will lead to a renaissance for up-and-coming authors, not the dark ages. I did notice that there was no mention of self-publishing in the WSJ piece.