Buyer’s remorse

I have to admit, I’m vastly amused at the thought of what must have gone through Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s mind when he read this little bloviation from his star author. Or better yet, the mind of the executive at Macmillan who has to defend Tor’s underperformance in 2016 to the Germans.

This year I’ll publish/have published a novella, stories in three anthologies, a short story collection and a video game. Not a bad year.

No, not bad. But of course, that’s really not what Tor Books pays him for. What appears to be missing there is the very small matter of a novel. Or two. That being said, I had better not cast too many stones, lest I find myself again addressed as “Vox RR Day” come January. Hey, I’m working on it!

Regardless, it’s a simple fact that the mainstream publishers are now in decline.

Financial reports for the first half of 2016 from five major publishers showed that none of the companies had a sales increase in the first half of the year; HarperCollins had the best top-line performance, with only a minor sales decline compared to the first six months of 2015. Earnings fell at three publishers in the period and rose at two. Though sales of print books have stabilized, all five reporting publishers said sales of e-books fell in the first six months of 2016 compared to the January–June 2015 period.

Sales at Penguin Random House were down nearly 11 percent, at -10.7 percent. HarperCollins did well to remain essentially flat for the first two quarters. And it’s only going to get worse, as independent publishers, self-publishers, and Kindle Unlimited continue to take an increasing share of the market.

Remember, publishing is not a zero-sum game, it is a NEGATIVE-SUM game. Because the market is shrinking, every sale Castalia makes represents more than one previous-year sale lost to the gatekeepers. And if you think they’re acting crazy now, just wait until Barnes & Noble goes down and takes one or more of the big publishers with them.