Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I found a sunny take!

I wanted to pass along this link to literary agent Nathan Bransford's blog, wherein he discusses why he's excited about where publishing is headed. He does a nice job laying out the landscape, but it may be a tad simplistic. He envisions a time when,
anyone will be able to publish their book, and there will be no distribution barrier. The same eBook stores that stock Stephenie Meyer and Dan Brown will stock, well, you. Readers will be the ones who decide what becomes popular. There will be no intermediary. It will be just as easy to buy a book by you as it will be to buy the HARRY POTTER of the future. Your book will be just a few keystrokes away from everyone with an internet connection (and their tablet / eReader / iPhone / gizmo / whatchamacallit of the future).
But he doesn't really say how the independent bookstores are going to survive, or if they will survive. That's no good to me. I don't want to rely on the web, and especially just one website, for all my "book" needs, digital or otherwise, in the future. I would ask that we go back to the drawing board and get a bit more creative. Though I should be fair and say that Bransford is purposely being simple, as this very popular blog is most read (I believe) by aspiring writers, so it was not his responsibility to lay out the future in great detail. (I say popular because he gets so many comments to his posts!)

I also like how he explains the way he as an agent will survive, along with big publishers and smaller presses. Unfortunately, he never gets around to the independent bookstores.

I found his understanding of how an agent's role will change most interesting - and fairly obvious, though I hadn't given it thought:
If anything things are getting more complicated, and authors will still need agents to navigate the business and negotiate with the Amazons and Sonys and Apples and whoever else rises up in the future. There will still be subrights to negotiate and distribution deals and all sorts of challenges that authors will be hardpressed to face on their own.

Of course he's right. It's a big task but a necessary one, and somehow it pleases me to know that agents will still be in the writer's corner, going to bat for her or him regarding these emerging rights.

So a bit of optimism for you on this day-after-snow-day, work day. And I'm quite proud of myself: I managed to write this whole post without mentioning former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich's book deal. D'oh!

Oh, but I did want to update the story I reported on a couple of weeks ago, regarding McGraw-Hill cancelling Barry Ritholz's book Bailout Nation: How Easy Money Corrupted Wall Street and Shook the World Economy, a book critical of Standard & Poor's, which it owns. It seems Wiley will snap it up. Smart thinking!

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