Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Store

I was interested to see Scribd now offers the opportunity to buy uploaded books.

According to the press release, posted on Marketwire, Scribd is offering authors 80 percent of revenue. A nice little earner. For example, Douglas Clegg's Afterlife, sells for $3.50, has been read by 31,000 people. That's $108,000 in sales and $86,000 for Mr Clegg (note: I don't know how long the book has been for sale at the store, so in truth, it may not have earned anything. I'm just working on the figures available, but you get the idea). Like I said, a nice little earner.

Scribd is the largest social publishing arena in the world, so it has a lot of clout. Immediacy and economy being the biggest two. An author doesn't have to wait months or a year for their work to appear on the shelves, readers don't have to wait and both enjoy the economic benefits: An author, because they will get a larger slice of the pie, and the reader because they don't have to fork out big bucks in an industry where the publisher sets the price to cover their own costs first.

It's environmentally friendly, too. No more tonnes of returned books for paper bleaching and recycling.

But... there's another side to the issue: the quality of the available works, for one. Anyone can upload documents - I do - and the editorial quality on a lot of works is dubious at best, shockingly ill-educated at worst (grammar and spelling seem to be a burden few wish to carry any more).

Then there's the periphery of the industry: the booksellers, artists, editors, copy-editors, agents, deliverymen. And book tours... think about how that wouldn't work.

As with book stores, how much you earn depends on how many people buy your work, but the potential is both spectacular for authors to take back their earning rights and disastrous for the standard publishing industry.

Is this the way of the future and what are book publishers going to do about it? What can they do?

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