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Industry News: Penguin, Random House Merger? The Costs of Self-Publishing; e-Book Refunds To Come

October 27, 2012

Penguin, Random House Parent Companies May Merge

Recently, I read one of those “crystal ball” columns posted about publishing from time to time, and one of its predictions was that the Big Six would be the Big Fewer-Than-Six before long. Against that backdrop, it’s no surprise that Bertelsmann, the owner of Random House, and Pearson, the owner of Penguin, are a considering a transaction that could result in the two houses mergingThe Financial Times, which is also owned by Pearson, first broke the news of the merger. The rumors of the transaction involve only the publishing houses–at this point.

What this means to you: Choices are good, and the consolidation of the publishing houses will result in–at some level–fewer choices. Although consolidation of the Big Six is probably inevitable, anything that further reduces media ownership–including publishing houses–isn’t a positive development. Of course, there are more publishing options than ever right now, but fewer teams in the Big Leagues isn’t a good thing for baseball players, and fewer publishers at the top level doesn’t seem to bode well for authors.

Self -Publishing is Way Up, but Is That a Good Thing?

According to Bowker, self-publishing is up 287% over the past five years. Those numbers aren’t a surprise, or shouldn’t be. Self-publishing, for all its allure and danger, is here to stay. But is it a good thing? A Huffington Post column suggests that the self-publishing frenzy might make things more difficult for most of those who try it. In a world where a traditionally published author is selling self-published titles for 99 cents, how is a beginner supposed to make a mark. The column suggests that some authors are stooping to what amounts to bribery to generate sales, including giving away Kindles. But the upshot is that self-published authors need to concentrate on quality and raising the value of their books, rather than lowering their prices.

What this means to you: It means that writing a good book is more important than ever. As much as people complain about the quality of 50 Shades of Gray, it’s still an anomaly. But it also means that the next self-published writer to hit it big may have to bring something more than a great book with bargain-basement prices. Effectively, it means that self-publishing, for most, may be like baseball’s minor leagues, where players to go prove their values for the big leagues.

e-book Buyers Due To Receive Rebates

It won’t allow you to retire earlier, but the e-book settlement between three of the Big Six and the Department of Justice should have put an e-mail in your inbox with a promise of your share of the $69 million settlement. Unfortunately, the settlement amounts will vary from 30 cents to $1.32 per book (at least for Amazon purchases). The Barnes and Noble letter I received did not indicate the amounts of the rebates, but it’ll be close to those amounts per book. The refunds are expected in the first half of next year.

What this means to you: For Barnes and Noble and Amazon, the rebates will be refunded in the form of a credit, though you can also request a check in its place. Unless you bought an enormous number of e-books, you can’t quit your day job.

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One Comment
  1. Jill Yamnitz permalink
    October 30, 2012 9:43 pm

    I still think they should have called it Random-Penguin. 🙂

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