Chris Meadows has an excellent post just below this one.  It’s entitled Publishers in danger of losing hearts and minds of readers.

Here are two paragraphs that need to be re-read:

And the publishers and authors are not exactly doing a good job connecting with consumers, either. Take the case of writer Douglas Preston, who denounced consumers’ reactions to the increase in pricing as denoting a sense of “entitlement” (and then backpedaled as fast as he could). Or consider that the first few announcements of Macmillan President John Sargent about the agency pricing imposition were aimed not at consumers but at other industry insiders. A number of publishing industry professionals, such as Brett Sandusky, are realizing that the industry needs to do a much better job of focusing on the general public, but this change seems to be slow in coming.

So, if publishers don’t want to see readers turn more and more toward libraries or piracy rather than purchases, they should perhaps start doing a better job of conveying to consumers why their books are worth the prices they’re charging. That includes providing error-free source files to the e-book stores, and fixing errors when consumers bring them to their attention. In this era of e-publishing, “because we say they are” is becoming an increasingly threadbare reason.

For the last two or three years at every conference I’ve gone to – Digital Book World, Tools of Change, Publishing Point, BookExpo America, etc. –  I have offered publishers the ability to tell their side of the story here on TeleRead.  I’ve made this offer to low, middle and high executive-level publishing personnel and guess what:

not one publisher has ever taken me up on it.

So I’ll make the offer again, this time in public.

I will gladly print articles written by publishers explaining “their side” of the story when it comes to pricing, quality, competitive problems, etc.  Unfortunately, as I have said to many publishers in person, the rise of ebooks is making publishers and readers into an “us vs. them” scenario and this is to be greatly deplored.

Publishers have a chance to tell their story here without any editing or changes from me.  Take advantage of it.



  1. Actually, their flacks HAVE been stating their position. As you note, they have been quite vocal about making the case that price gouging, DRM restrictions and anti-competitive pricing schemes are actually GOOD for authors and consumers.

  2. The publishing industry is still living firmly in the 70’s which is why none of them have ever taken you up on the offer.

    Back then people didn’t need/want to know anything about the goods they were buying and how the industries worked… They just wanted to buy whatever it was and either paid the price or shrugged their shoulders and didn’t if it was too expensive. Customer service as it exists today just wasn’t around then.

    Nowadays people are a lot more savvy and aware, especially in the current economic climate, so don’t take kindly to being ripped off.

    Ninety percent of those objecting to Ebook pricing are getting their info from the customer side of the fence, either from bloggers or places like Amazon who clearly aren’t going to give the full picture. The few releases from the publishing industry have smacked of condescension and a complete lack of respect for the customers who keep their business afloat. “This is how much books cost and you have no understand of how us Publishing genius’ have calculated this, so either pay it remove yourself from my doorstep peasant” is about as far as it goes.

    The reason they won’t do that is because they know the public aren’t idiots so will see through all their excuses.

    – They accuse Amazon of monopolising and bullying them… While ignoring the fact it was Amazon in the first place who pretty much transformed publishers sales overnight.

    – They act like Amazon are the anti christ…. But still sell to them because it fills their coffers instead of refusing to bow to Amazon’s demands and rely on Amazon’s competitors instead. I could mention the hypocrisy of refusing to damage their own profits to take a stand against Amazon on paper books while hitting us in the pockets on Ebooks as part of their stand on digital sales.

    – They refuse to justify the high cost of ebooks… Because if they start explaining costs to us they’ll have to explain the extortionate mark up on hardbacks.

    – They bemoan how publishing is a poor industry struggling to make ends meet because of tight profit margins… Supermarkets have the tighest profit margins around yet still make vast pots of gold every year because they’ve actually moved with the times and remainined innovative rather than still being stuck in the dark ages clinging desperately to an outdated business model.

  3. Publishers–self- and agency-type–show up in the comments sections all the time. Usually they get told that they’re a bunch of money-hungry liars and they’re totally wrong about everything and also they’re ugly and they smell bad.

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