A British literary agent whose blog I read (www.litopia) writes that the recent antitrust action against six major publishers and Apple for conspiring to fix the price of e-books will come to be seen as “the moment when everything changed (for traditional publishing)…now authors (and agents) must live with the results, which are horrific. There is far less money in publishing today than yesterday. Amazon have (sic.) won this.”
I see no reason to disagree with him. Bookstores are closing. Paperback sales are down while e-book sales are climbing.
Worse for those who hope to make a living writing fiction is the example of music where once digital was available on the internet piracy became the rule of the day with generations believing that music should “be free.”
To foresee the future of publishing look at the music business. What you see is the rise of “indie” bands and decline of big labels. While some might say that this is a good thing and there has been some benefits in the rise of smaller labels and the success of a few bands (Arcade Fire) , still billions of dollars of revenue has been lost to musicians, recording engineers and music publishers.
A big difference between the musician and writer is that a musician if he’s hearty enough can go on the road and sell a few cd’s (and now vinyl) at his gigs.
What’s a writer to do – nobody is going to pay to hear a reading?
The only thing standing between writers and this fate is digital rights management and the sad truth that most writers can’t give their stuff away.