I recently heard Dan Poynter, author of The Self-Publishing Manual, say he thinks that, although books in print will always exists, the majority of publishing houses will eventually close their doors. Of course, only six large publishing houses exist. Hundreds of small and mid-sized ones operate and churn out a small number of books each year.
Publishers like Alyson Books. Like many small and mid-sized publishers today, Alyson Books has been struggling, and it’s parent company, Here Media, has tried to sell it off. Publisher’s Weekly reported that Here Media announced that it is dropping Alyson’s print book program and plans to restructure as an e-book only publisher because it has been unable to arrange the sale of Alyson Books,
Alyson is the second mid-sized publisher to try an e-book strategy in an attempt to keep its doors open an its so-called presses running. This summer, Dorchester Publishing dropped its mass market paperback line and picked up an e-book/print-on-demand line instead.
This new approach will not only affect Alyson’s existing authors, it also will affect the 24 authors under contract whose books have not yet been released. Alyson has not published new print books since fall 2009.
One consideration for Alyson was it’s market: gays and lesbians. The gay and lesbian community tends to be early adopters of technology, according to John Knoebel, vice president of consumer marketing at Here Media,”so we are encouraged that they will take to digital books.” Additionally, Knoebel said the decision to stop publishing print titles also was influenced by the closing of many gay bookstores. “There are just fewer places to sell books,” he said.
With all this in mind–plus the huge popularity of e-readers, aspiring authors have to start considering how and where they plan on publishing their books. Maybe it’s time to reconsider independent publishing, and, in the process, to explore e-book options. Surely, when considering traditional publishing, be sure your contract has e-book publishing options or rights outlined. You don’t want to discover your book is stuck in print form forever and that you or a failing publisher have no way of getting it out in e-book form if an when you want or need to do so.