Is book publishing slowly becoming a less profitable business

Is book publishing slowly becoming a less profitable business?

Book publishing comes in three basic sections.
There’s trade fiction, trade non-fiction and non-trade non-fiction.
Non-trade non-fiction is roughly half of the business.
You won’t find these books in bookstores as a general rule, which is what makes them non-trade.
And this is by far the most profitable half of the business.
The trade half divides about 55/45 into non-fiction and fiction.
That makes fiction a little less than 1/4 of the total business.
And it’s even less profitable than trade non-fiction.
The only thing less profitable for a publishing house (or for an author) is poetry.
Most authors are unaware that a publishing house’s profit margin on fiction is almost always lower than their royalties.
Usually by a good bit.
Is that margin dropping? Yes.
Not by a lot, but steadily.
Why? Because everyone, including self-publishing authors, is selling fewer copies for a given level of popularity, in the fiction market.
The flood of new entrants, with the number of novels published rising by a factor of ten, is the primary reason why.
A secondary reason is that publishers are keeping the cost of ebooks high, to keep bookstores in business and to keep readers from changing their price expectations to a ridiculously low level.
Bookstores are important to everyone, because they’re the only thing that keeps Amazon from completely owning all access to readers.
That would be deadly to self-publishers as well as large houses because Amazon has absolutely NO need for books in any way shape or form.
It will then have an ethical obligation to seize all possible profit margin from self- and traditional-publishers, driving all professional authors and publishers out of business.
As for all of non-fiction, the profit margins remain unchanged.
The self-publishing revolution in those parts of the business happened many years ago, and has long since reached equilibrium.

Is book publishing slowly becoming a less profitable business?

Book publishing comes in three basic sections.
There’s trade fiction, trade non-fiction and non-trade non-fiction.
Non-trade non-fiction is roughly half of the business.
You won’t find these books in bookstores as a general rule, which is what makes them non-trade.
And this is by far the most profitable half of the business.
The trade half divides about 55/45 into non-fiction and fiction.
That makes fiction a little less than 1/4 of the total business.
And it’s even less profitable than trade non-fiction.
The only thing less profitable for a publishing house (or for an author) is poetry.
Most authors are unaware that a publishing house’s profit margin on fiction is almost always lower than their royalties.
Usually by a good bit.
Is that margin dropping? Yes.
Not by a lot, but steadily.
Why? Because everyone, including self-publishing authors, is selling fewer copies for a given level of popularity, in the fiction market.
The flood of new entrants, with the number of novels published rising by a factor of ten, is the primary reason why.
A secondary reason is that publishers are keeping the cost of ebooks high, to keep bookstores in business and to keep readers from changing their price expectations to a ridiculously low level.
Bookstores are important to everyone, because they’re the only thing that keeps Amazon from completely owning all access to readers.
That would be deadly to self-publishers as well as large houses because Amazon has absolutely NO need for books in any way shape or form.
It will then have an ethical obligation to seize all possible profit margin from self- and traditional-publishers, driving all professional authors and publishers out of business.
As for all of non-fiction, the profit margins remain unchanged.
The self-publishing revolution in those parts of the business happened many years ago, and has long since reached equilibrium.

Updated: 09.07.2019 — 5:59 pm

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