?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Yog's Law and Distribution

I just posted this comment on a friend’s Facebook status update, and I thought it worth posting here. Once upon a time, it was impossible to get a self-published book into bookstores: shelf-space was at a premium, and stores wouldn’t risk the chance that a buyer might select a truly terrible book and never return.

Amazon changed things because they had, essentially, infinite shelf space. What’s more, the internet has “caveat emptor” written all over it (in invisible pixels) so Amazon didn’t have to worry so much if this book or that one was illiterate.

New distribution options meant a change in the way the business works, and that’s the end of Yog’s Law (“Money flows toward a writer” or: “Don’t pay to have your book published; write a book that others will pay you for the privilege of publishing.”) as a useful guideline.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.

Tags:

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
blairmacg
Jun. 16th, 2014 12:36 am (UTC)
True all the way around.

I remember an author explaining distribution consolidation to me in the 80s. The loss of regional distributors, with their personal touch, was considered a major obstacle for writers who wanted longevity of career. That was quickly followed by the number-crunch ordering system used by superstores via their tiny number of distributors.


(Aside: In the 80s, I was also told the average first time advance would be $3K to $5K. It's rather sad to see today's numbers are not, according to Beckell's Author Advance Survey, much better.)
burger_eater
Jun. 16th, 2014 01:41 am (UTC)
It's somewhat better, but there are so many more books being published now that reader dollars are more widely-distributed.

And the super-stores blew it/have blown it by centralizing their ordering process. If they'd let local managers serve their communities, they'd be better off, but no one likes to give up control.
blairmacg
Jun. 17th, 2014 02:12 am (UTC)
"And the super-stores blew it/have blown it by centralizing their ordering process. If they'd let local managers serve their communities, they'd be better off, but no one likes to give up control."

Yep. The notion that BN on the south side of Indianapolis would find equal success with the same titles stocked in, say, Portland is silliness.

The worst thing you can be in business is efficient without being effective.
burger_eater
Jun. 17th, 2014 04:17 am (UTC)
I still think B&N should switch to a franchise model.

Not that I know anything about franchises.
blairmacg
Jun. 19th, 2014 01:20 am (UTC)
Hee. Franchises can be wicked on owners if the parent company is of the "standardization is best" variety (Subway is Subway is Subway), resulting in the same problems as centralized decision-making.

But, as a person in a rural area, I'm someone totally outside BN's preferred brick-n-mortar customer base, so what do I know? :)
muirecan
Jun. 16th, 2014 01:57 am (UTC)
It is interesting. At one point prior to the early 1920's I think... self publishing was the way to go. Then publishing began to consolidate into the publishing houses we have now. I'm not certain when it changed but for a long time self publishing was perfectly fine then it fell out of fashion and has come round again.
burger_eater
Jun. 16th, 2014 03:34 am (UTC)
And self-publishing was a huge risk at the time, too.
muirecan
Jun. 16th, 2014 05:49 am (UTC)
Oh very definitely, which is one of the reasons for the rise of the publishing houses as the gatekeepers.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )