We published Maya’s earlier post on this topic here. Now she comes in with her second part which is advice to publishers – from the author’s perspective.
From my side of the negotiating table, it sure looks like the Big Six are only interested in new publishing models if they preserve the old power structure where the publisher had all the clout. In politics, that policy is called protectionism.
Alan Greenspan, the former chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, criticized protectionism because it leads “to an atrophy of our competitive ability. … If the protectionist route is followed, newer, more efficient industries will have less scope to expand, and overall output and economic welfare will suffer.”
Publishers’ power was based on the fact that, in the past, they owned the sole means of production of books: those big, expensive printing presses. Authors were forced to go to publishers in order to see their work in print.
I actually find it ironic that the printing press–the invention that democratized reading–is being pushed aside by a new technology that will democratize publishing. Digital files plus print-on-demand technology (not to mention e-books) will end the hegemony of the Big Six publishers by making it possible for anyone to become a publisher.