There seems to be a view in certain self-congratulatory circles that publishers have finally got to grips with the digital revolution, that they have weathered the fiercest part of the storm, and that they are well-placed now not just to survive, but to thrive.
There are innumerable problems with that view, of course, but today I’d like to focus on one core truth of this brave new world that publishers have failed to grasp.
Namely, there are only two essential components to publishing in the digital era: the writer and the reader.
All of the old middlemen – agents, publishers, distributors, retailers – have to justify their cut, as the writer can now bypass them and go direct to readers. The only middlemen (IMO) currently making a compelling case for their cut are retailers. Self-publishers are more than happy to fork over 30% to Amazon to access their ever-expanding customer base.
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