Blogger: Mary Keeley
Location: Books & Such Midwest Office, IL
We’re aware technology has been changing the landscape of publishing, but have you noticed the rate of acceleration? Don’t think you’ve figured out your options and can settle in comfortably. It will be different tomorrow. The challenge we all face is to keep up. You need to be knowledgeable. Today I’ll share two news items I ran across in the past week that highlight the wave of change flooding the business of publishing.
Before Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple last June, he unveiled the design for Apple’s new building. In a discussion group on LinkedIn, Kevin Cronin, an ebook pioneer, shared a column posted on www.FastCompany.com that was written by Farhad Manjoo entitled “The Great Tech War of 2012.” Manjoo reported that Apple’s new circular building, situated on 150 acres, will house 12,000 employees. He wrote, “Apple’s new campus will have a footprint slightly smaller than that of the Pentagon; its diameter will exceed the height of the Empire State Building.” (Reminds me of the Tower of Babel, but whatever…) Obviously Apple is big, but so it Facebook, Google, and Amazon. The battle of these Titans affects all of us, and this article explores what that means in terms of your social media efforts: here
Steve Jobs died at a young age . . . 56 or 57, wasn’t it? But in the techno sphere, he was actually one of the older executives. His replacement, Tim Cook, is even younger. And have you seen photos of Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, and Larry Page, CEO of Google? They’re young. Even Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, appears to be relatively young to have risen to that level. The brave new world of technology comes easily for the younger generation. Who will be the next teenager to launch a technology empire from his garage? And what does that mean for those of us who use social media?
Speaking of Amazon, David Streitfeld wrote an interesting column in the Business Day-Technology section of The New York Times last week with the provocative title: “Amazon Signs Up Authors, Writing Publishers Out of the Deal.” He reports that “Amazon will publish 122 books this fall in an array of genres, in both physical and e-book form.” He points out next that their publishing program “will place Amazon squarely in competition with the New York houses that are also its most prominent suppliers” (emphasis mine). We should be watching to see how that is going to work out–another battle of the Titans.
Amazon executive Jeff Belle, announced that 30-year industry veteran Laurence J. Kirshbaum will lead a new imprint. He explained, “Larry will be building out a publishing team in New York and will found new imprints under the Amazon Publishing umbrella, with a focus on acquiring the highest quality books in literary and commercial fiction, business and general nonfiction.” Here is the link.
Amazon’s foray into publishing has been directed toward acquiring general market (ABA) authors. Fortunately, this gives Christian publishers a little time to think creatively and prepare defensively–better yet, offensively. Christian authors might find it tantalizing to contemplate partnering directly with Amazon Publishing, but when Amazon launches a Christian imprint, will it hire people who grasp how Christ-centered the projects need to be–and the authors need to be as well?
Of what significance is this information to you, the writer? Isn’t it enough work just to master your craft and produce great writing? The answer is that an informed writer has an edge when talking business with an agent or editor. Imagine yourself in a meeting with an editor at a writers conference. The editor may, in conversation, comment on a recent happening within the industry. Or the editor might mention it purposefully to see your reaction and thereby get a sense of your knowledge of the industry, or lack thereof. If you are able to respond intelligently, you will present yourself as a professional, committed to your craft.
Do all these goings-on make your head hurt? Me too. But it’s a fact of life that the business side of writing is more important than ever for you to know.
What questions does this information raise for you? What other aspects of publishing are you warily watching to see how they develop? What makes you the most nervous? What makes you the most excited?