Friday, May 06, 2005

New thinking by bookseller -- world grinds to halt again

AuthorHouse UK, a self-publishing outfit which is a subsidiary of the AuthorHouse of Bloomington, Indiana, has put out a press release (noted by which explains a new deal that it has struck with Waterstone's, which is the UK's largest bookseller.

AuthorHouse UK and Waterstone's will combine to offer a Waterstone's self-publishing package. This will include, among other things, guaranteed shelf space for self-published authors in Waterstone's flagship store at 311 Oxford Street in London.

Well, if nothing else, this is interesting. But what is even more interesting is the quote from Scott Pack, the buying manager for Waterstone's. 'Big publishers do not have the monopoly on good books,' he says. 'Some of the most exciting books we see nowadays are from small independent publishers or self-published authors.'

And that, you have to admit, is definitely a bit different from what we have heard before.

The press release also tells us that Waterstone's has hosted a book signing with Luke Rhinehart, author of The Dice Man. Rhinehart was originally published traditionally, but choose to self-publish his latest work through AuthorHouse UK.

'We're starting to see this trend in the United States as well,' says Bryan Smith, President and CEO of AuthorHouse. 'Traditionally published authors are coming to AuthorHouse to regain control over their work. These authors understand the importance of owning their copyrights and maintaining editorial control. Consequently, they also reap the financial benefits of higher royalty payments on books sold.'

Hmm. As I say, interesting. No guarantee, of course, that you will sell any books, but no one can reasonably argue that it's hard to get a book into print any longer.


Suzan Abrams, email: said...

And Michael, in the United States, there is always Oprah at the end of the day...

Peter L. Winkler said...
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Peter L. Winkler said...

The books produced by AuthorHouse will only be in a section of the bookstore labeled "Self-Published." In other words, a ghetto for self-published books. If you were to write a biography, it will not be shelved among the other biographies, but only in the Self-Published section.

Nobody goes into a bookstore to browse for the newest self-published books. They look for books on their favorite subject, and self-published is not a subject category. I dare say that many people don't even know you can self-publish a book.

To paraphrase the Pythons, "Scam, scam, scammity scam.

I envy the inexhaustable ingenuity of these predatory con men. If only I didn't have a conscience, I could really make money in publishing.

Anonymous said...

As a Waterstones employee and buyer in a branch this is very interesting turn of events. In the past few years Waterstones has vastly cut down the amount of suppliers it uses - this is well known - but the reason it did this is that because they felt that anything that didn't come from a big publishing house was inferior and not worthy of our time. Someone had done alot of number crunching and most of the "dead" stock came from small publishers or was self-published. Having a self-published section will "ghettoize" these books but it may possibly draw attention to them. Most booksellers don't keep these books in a sufficient quantity to display them and unless they are hand-sold disappear into the shelves. I still haven't made up my mind on this issue. I mean, I don't want anything in my section that I am told to have that I wouldn't otherwise stock, and I have taken risks on a lot of books that I consider worthy when it has been against policy to stock them.

June said...

I have mixed feelings on this as well. I am a self published author myself with Authors OnLine Ltd, but did consider publishing with Authorhouse. Having seen the Authorhouse stand in the Oxford Street branch, I have to say that I do tend to agree with Peter, in that people do not look for, for example religious books anywhere other than the relgious section, and the books will therefore be difficult to find. The Authorhouse stand is right in the middle of the fiction area on the ground floor, and mixing genres like this, all on the same stand is somewhat confusing to the customer.

On the other hand, when I pitched my book to Borders in Oxford Street just recently they turned it down. The copy I sent them was passed on to their Head Office to look at, so maybe they did me a favour in bringing it to their attention, who knows? Would I have stood a better chance if I had signed up to the Authorhouse package. This package does not come cheap, so realistically, can the authors expect to recoup their costs? These are all unknowable and unanswerable questions, and I guess that only time will tell. I will not be in a hurry though to move my book to Authorhouse !