Agents, Kindles and Libraries

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 0 Comments A+ a-

It's been a slow news day for the past few months so I haven't dug up much in the way of publishing news. That always unnerves me because the moment there IS some news, it's usually some heavy duty one. Besides the fact that we lost Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon just last week alone is trippy in itself. I loved me some MJ tunes because they always got you right down to the bone and even if you KNOW you can't dance you would get up and shake it to his music cause it feels so good. But I digress.

Weber Books linked an article via Twitter regarding the evolving role of agents over at the Shatzkin Files blog site. This comes on the heels of my almost written article dealing with the hunt for agents in this climate so it's especially interesting to me. As more aspiring and current authors are having problems landing a good agent, so are agents having problems selling.

Compounding the problem for agents is the changing nature of publishing opportunity. While the sales and royalty potential of the book through the publisher is declining, other opportunities are opening up. There is a multiplicity of ebook channels that in the aggregate do not replace the revenue that print used to provide and doesn’t anymore. Chunks of books and material too short to be published as a book can be sold through them. Agents have for years been trying to split off audio rights to sell to Audible or Brilliance or Tantor Media. The opportunity to sell content to web sites seems to be emerging. But all of these deals require conceiving, pitching, closing, negotiating, and contract reviewing. For fifteen percent of what?

And further complicating things is the ubiquitous self-publishing option. As self-publishing becomes part of the strategic approach to getting a “real” publisher (and it is), it adds a further complication to the business relationship between agent and writer. Is it fair for an agent to work with a writer on developing a proposal or a manuscript and then, when it fails to sell to a publisher, see that writer self-publish what amounts to a collaborative effort without owing anything to the agent? I think most agents would say, “NO!”

The whole article is worth checking out but make sure you have a glass of wine nearby (or maybe something stronger?) to get you through. On the positive note there's some more opportunities opening up where there were none before and this article may give you an idea of obstacles you can tackle for the future. Full blog article is here.

There's also an interesting article on the publishing industry reshuffle that will look much different than the way business has been done before. Really good read for those interested in industry studies. Full blog article is here.

In Kindle news, the ereading device continues to soar as it gains news, both positive and negative.

The Wall Street Journal reports that "Two groups representing the interests of the blind sued Arizona State University to stop it from using Amazon.com Inc.'s (AMZN) Kindle DX electronic reading device as a means of distributing electronic textbooks to its students." Eeek. Full article is here.

On the other hand, there happens to be Library Leadership Network Wiki (which I hadn't heard about until Twitter) . Under the ebook/Kindle news section there's a yes/no going on whether or not Amazon will allow Kindles to be checked out on loan. Apparently the answer is both depending on which library you ask. The entire article is interesting especially if you're looking to buy a Kindle so you can weigh the good and bad before plunking down all that cash.