The Passive Voice links to Hugh Howie’s latest rant from The Wayfinder trashing traditional publishing while yet claiming to love it. I guess this is what we know as tough love. “We think individual entrepreneurs are cooler than mega corporations” he says, but what’s cool got to do with it? I’m sure the board of Bertelsmann sits there in Gütersloh bitching at PRH that they aren’t being cool enough — we didn’t say big profits; we said cool profits! No doubt Hugh Howie is way cooler than the Bertelsmann board, but then he’s probably the coolest guy in any book room. There are doubtless other cool indie publishers, but there are also lots of uncool old farts. So what?

On the same day, 12th February, The Passive Voice also includes this refutation of some of Howie’s claims from Book Business, and here from 8 February is their account of the latest Author Earnings report which Porter Anderson at Publishing Perspectives also analyses. It is perhaps worth considering the possibility that Author Earnings is right: but that, while interesting, doesn’t really mean much does it? In so far as the effort is directed at persuading traditional publishers to pay authors a 70% royalty, it’s surely no more than an insane delusion. In a bit of a scoop, Digital Book World publishes this interview with the Data Guy, the anonymous statistician who collects and analyzes the data for Author Earnings. He reveals that he started his data analysis in order to clarify for himself whether he should self-publish his book or seek a traditional publisher’s contract.

Life’s too short for this discussion. The world has room for both — or neither, if that’s what we end up wanting. Either Howey and Data Guy are right and the Big Five (plus the smaller hundreds) are doomed, or they are wrong, and they aren’t. Who gains anything by pontificating about something which will eventually be proved by the passage of time? It’s all a bit like little boys boasting about the size of their equipment. They all work, in pretty much the same sort of way.

 

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