Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Jerry Simmons - Former Time Warner Book Executive

Jerry, what is wrong with publishing industry today, and how do we fix it?

Publishing is the only business I know that operates contrary to the laws of supply and demand. As demand has declined over the past fifteen years, supply has increased as well as the cover prices for books. This is one big problem, the other is that the major publishers are afraid to take chances. They resist change simply because they are old school and the senior executives have spent their entire careers in the business and fail to act because "that is not the way it has ever been done." Plus after spending years in publishing and attaining a top level job those in a position to make change will never rock the boat. The big New York publishers answer to falling sales is to revert back to what they have always published, just more of it. For example: James Patterson no longer writes his own books, he has co-authors, and he now publishes multiple hardcover titles each year. This is a case where the publisher is trying to sell more of what sells, but they in fact are doing nothing more than selling a brand. Is the consumer really getting what they pay for, a new James Patterson novel? Or are they buying the name and brand of James Patterson? I truly believe that consumers of books, readers, are tired of the same old thing and higher and higher cover prices. If publishers would start to focus on the book and author, instead of generating revenue, then publishing would start to correct itself. As it stands, the big media mentality prevails and they are in the business of making money, not publishing good books. The fix lies with the smaller houses who concentrate on publishing good books and growing good authors. The bigger companies are losing their ability to be a change agent in the traditional world of book publishing. The hope is that the smaller companies will not follow the footsteps on the bigger competitors, but instead will price books not according to the market, but to the demands of their audience. If this happens, then I believe more people will buy and read more books.

Jerry D. Simmons

Author, Publisher, Speaker

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