Friday, August 6, 2010

The Romance Publishing World Goes KABOOM!

Hey, romance lovers, here's some sort of hot-off-the-e-presses news...

Kaboom!!! The romance publishing world, Dorchester Publishing to be specific... has just news-exploded in a way I, and others, have been predicting for a couple of years now.

This is courtesy of the erotic romance author, Renee Bagby, on the Siren-BookStrand author’s loop:

Here is the full article on it from PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY’s daily emailed update:

Dorchester Drops Mass Market Publishing for E-Book/POD Model
by Jim Milliot
Aug 06, 2010

Mass market romance publisher Dorchester Publishing has dropped its traditional print publishing business in favor of an e-book/print-on-demand model effective with its September titles that are “shipping” now. President John Prebich said after retail sales fell by 25% in 2009, the company knew that 2010 “would be a defining year,” but rather than show improvement, “sales have been worse.” While returns are down, the company has had a difficult time getting its titles into stores as shelf space for mass market has been reduced, Prebich explained. Dorchester recently let its field sales force of seven go, although Tim DeYoung remains with the company as v-p of sales and marketing.?The editorial team remains intact, although Prebich said the number of titles released monthly will likely be reduced from over 30 to 25. He said the schedule for 2011 is set and Dorchester has books in the pipeline through June 2012.

Dorchester will continue to do print copies for its book club business and has signed a deal with Ingram Publisher Service for IPS to do print-on-demand copies for selected titles. According to Prebich, some e-books that are doing well in the digital marketplace will be released as trade paperbacks with IPS fulfilling orders; the company, however, will not do any more mass market paperbacks for retail distribution.

Prebich said Dorchester’s e-book business has had “remarkable growth” which he expects to double again in the next year. Still, digital sales accounted for only 12% of total revenue prior to the company making the transition to the e-book/pod model. Prebich conceded that Dorchester will have lower revenues, but he expects margins to improve. He said the company is working out a new royalty rate with authors that he expects to announce next week. Editors are talking to authors now about the changes. “We hope they’ll stay,” Prebich said. Dorchester’s e-books are available at most major vendors and compatible with most platforms at an average price of $6.99. Trade paperbacks will be priced in the $12 to $15 range.

On his decision to drop the mass market format Prebich explained: “These are like pioneer times in publishing. We felt like we needed to take some chances and make a bold move."

Here's a better article from PW:

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Note: This Big Cat author can’t say she’s exactly surprised... however, it does send shock waves through the ole system. How many more of the so-called BIG PUBLISHERS are about to jump into the digital selling pool?

Furthermore, how do we, as authors, protect ourselves from the impending Wal-Mart like invasion? That is, the BIG BOY publishers are used to dominating the romance market and intend to get rid of any and all competition... once they move in...


Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~


Savanna Kougar said...

Kaboom... I feel empathy for all the authors at Dorchester!

Celia Yeary said...

Probably the authors at Dorchester feel betrayed--if they were among the group who considered eBooks and Trade paperback "Not real books", or second class, or second rate. This is very interesting. My question is--will the existing ePresses now favor the "big" authors as they come seeking new publishers? that would definitely hurt us, if and when the more well-known, popular authors nudge us out alltogether. If I were younger author, I'd be worrying, but with me--it won't affect me much. Celia

Savanna Kougar said...

Celia, yes, the Dorchester authors are probably feeling betrayed. I know at some level I would be, even if I understood the circumstances.

There is that concern, that the 'bigger name' authors will come a-knocking. And, I imagine that will have an impact.

However, I bet some of them will figure out it could be in their best interests simply to go Indie... that is, if they have a large enough readership.

A lot of the small print/epublishers will naturally jump at having these authors on board. However, as has been pointed out what sells the best in traditional print is often different than what sells in ebook-landia.

Besides, IF the number of readers remains basically the same, some of them may simply begin purchasing more ebooks and small print books.

Although, at this point it is difficult to assess how it will all play out. A lot of it depends on the economy. It also depends on keeping the internet free.

What truly concerns me, because I've witnessed it happen since the mid eighties, is that the BIG BOY publishers will strategize to create monopolies, and kill off any and all competition, as they can. They still have the power of big money, and *many* of them will use it to achieve that goal, rather than concentrating on the development of their authors and bringing new ones on board.
Yes, they'll make a show of being author-friendly, and, of course, there has to be some author development... however, to me, it means the control and restriction of romance books rather than the freedom to truly find and enjoy the books and subgenres you most want to read as an individual.

Plus, the Big Boy publishers will want to setup a 'star system', as they've done with their lineup of authors. Sure, naturally, some authors sell more books for whatever reason, the going trend, a style of writing that currently appeals, a story that resonates with more readers... however, that's different than intentionally fifth-avenue promoting a few authors as superstars, and putting the big money behind them.

Serena Shay said...


Lots of interesting and scary stuff going on in the publishing world these days...

Savanna Kougar said...

Sure is!

There's also opportunity galore. It's sorting the wheat from the chaff that is part of THE CHALLENGE. ~grinz~

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Savanna and everyone,
As you say interesting times.
I don't think ebook authors need to worry too much - as Savanna points out, the two markets, ebooks and print, have shown differences. I feel the ebook readership will still stay loyal to the ebook authors they have discovered and will continue to read new ebook authors. Besides, if the print publishers do what they've ben doing they'll probably over-price everything.

We've had BIG BOY publishing in the UK for years - there's about 5 companies only and you need an agent to submit and it's a closed shop. I can't wait for it to be bust open.

Savanna Kougar said...

Bust it open! Bust it open!

Bekki Lynn said...

I've already seen what it's like to have print authors in our realm of digital.

Barnes & Noble, Fictionwise and others I get in my email are promoting who was once only mass market authors instead of promoting those digital authors who were already there.

This new influx is going to make it harder on us.

Some of the conversations I've seen around the net are of mass market readers thrilled to death to get their favorite authors in e-format now. It's not about money, it's about convenience.

It's true some of those readers don't give e-authors a consideration, but with their favorite authors being thrust into our realm, it may open their eyes to a whole other library of books.

This could be an opportunity to pair up with authors - you know, if you like this, you may also like this. It can be a draw.

What we need to do as e-authors is to take the extra time and go the extra mile to make sure our work is spit shined and error free. Make sure it's quality is equal to or better. That falls on us.

Savanna Kougar said...

Bekki, that's true. Quality is our responsibility. And, it could be a smart move to pair up with those authors who are writing the subgenres you are. I hadn't thought of that. But, it would be a good marketing tool.

I must say, though, I DO resent BARNES AND NOBLE taking over Fictionwise and turning it into a mass market lineup of authors. Not only that, as I understand it, they're running it into the ground. Nothing I can do about it. And, the best bet, unless you can pair up, is simply to create a venue(s) that are superior to Fictionwise.

Of course, not so simple as that. But if the BIG BOYS are going to play rough. I say figure out good ways to play rougher. I wish I had the means to take them on, and bloody their proverbial noses. Not because I'm a small print-epub author, but because of how *some* of them treat their authors, overall, and how they treat readers poorly, by limiting their choices by design. Hey, it's a monopoly, you can have red or blue, but not yellow.

You can have the authors we choose for you, but not the authors you might want to read.