Are Publishers Losing the Hearts and Minds of Readers?

Here’s a fact that might not surprise you very much: the internet is full of idiots. The idiots come in many flavours, but the kinds of idiots who are annoying me this week are some of the people who write blogs about ebooks.

Let’s kick off this discussion with a few choice quotes from some blog posts I’ve read in the last week or so:

From Delimiter: Publishers in Australia refuse to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 19th century, let alone the 21st century … The Publishers in Australia are heavily addicted to the large margins that Australian books traditionally generate … Publishers are trying to protect their rivers of gold (book sales) by pricing eBooks in such way that makes them less attractive.

I kid you not – RIVERS OF GOLD, people. That’s what publishers are making from paper books: RIVERS. OF. GOLD.

From BookBee: In either case, Billbo posits that publishers are publishing poor-quality ebooks as a Cee Lo Green-style “f$&ck you” to the medium in general, because they’re frustrated … This is so out there that I hadn’t even considered it to be possible … But, really thinking about it, it may well be true. This is the kind of bloody-minded thing that a control freak manager who has had things go his own way for decades might actually do … Yes – sheer madness. Sadly, some publishers have form in the madness stakes.

That’s right, readers: publishers – particularly control freak publishers – are deliberately introducing errors into ebooks because they don’t like them.

I wonder if either of any of these bloggers has ever met or spoken to a real human being who works for a publishing company? Because I guarantee you that if they had they would learn two things a) the old stereotype of the boozy publisher with deep pockets full of cash died twenty years ago; and b) publishers are anal retentive freaks who hate the idea of errors slipping into the books they publish even more than their readers.

To think otherwise speaks of a genuine ignorance and a completely unfounded hate for traditional publishers. For the most part, people who work for publishing companies are in love with books. They love everything about them, and that’s why they work in an industry that pays them all so badly. Traditional publishers are not saints, but they are not the enemy of the reader.

To be fair, these bloggers aren’t the only voices out there. There are plenty of people on all sides of the new publishing paradigm that are speaking sense. Take the phenomenally successful self-published author Amanda Hocking (who I wrote about late last year), who wrote on her blog last week:

Traditional publishing and indie publishing aren’t all that different, and I don’t think people realize that … I just don’t understand writers animosity against publishers. So much of what I’ve been reading lately has made me out to be Dorothy taking down the Wicked Witch … Publishers have done really great things for a really long time. They aren’t some big bad evil entity trying to kill literature or writers. They are companies, trying to make money in a bad economy with a lot of top-heavy business practices … Traditional publishers are not evil any more than Amazon or Barnes & Noble are evil.

Which brings me back, finally, to the title of this blog post and the central question I want to ask of all of you out there. Do blog posts like the ones at the top of this post convince you that publishers are doing bad things for the future of reading? Because I worry that they do. Every time I read one of these posts it makes my blood boil. Not just because I work for a major publisher and know what goes on there doesn’t compare to the bad press they’re getting, but because Amazon and Apple – major companies with a lot more sway over the future of reading than publishers – seem to be getting a free pass. So, let me know what you think in the comments.

New bloggers appointed at Boomerang Books

Boomerang Books has appointed seven new bloggers to its book content team after receiving over 90 applications from eager writers.

‘The standard of applications received was quite amazing and we found it very difficult to narrow the field down to a manageable shortlist’, said Clayton Wehner, Managing Director and co-owner of Boomerang Books.

‘It was even harder to settle on the final seven bloggers from a shortlist of about thirty.  In fact, we originally set out to appoint only five bloggers, but we couldn’t split a couple of the applicants.  It took us several weeks of deliberation to arrive at the final seven’.

‘What’s most impressive is the fact that the positions were only advertised via social media mechanisms and, in particular, Twitter.  The writing community is a close-knit one and news of the positions spread like wildfire through ‘re-tweeting’.  We were inundated with applications and we certainly didn’t expect to receive so many’.

The bloggers have already starting producing their own themed blogs on the Boomerang Books website:

The Book Burglar. Brisbane-based Fiona Crawford is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, proofreader, and voracious reader. She is also (unfairly) known as the Book Burglar due to her penchant for buying family members—then permanently borrowing—books she wants to read herself.  Fiona’s blog revolves around Australian books (mostly ‘lifted’ from friends’ bookshelves).

Kid’s Book Capers. Melburnian Dee White is the award-winning children’s and YA author of Hope for Hanna, A Duel of Words, Letters to Leonardo and Harry’s Goldfield Adventure. Her blog explores great children’s books and the people who create them.

Poisoned Apples and Smoking Caterpillars. Aimee Burton is a Canberra-based lawyer-in-training who still dreams of befriending unicorns. Her blog is her escape from reality, and hopefully it will inspire her to finish writing that fantasy trilogy she’s always promising her friends is “almost halfway” done.

Read up on it. Sadhbh Warren is a freelance writer and proud booklover. Her name is pronounced Sive – like five – an Irish name, easier to say than spell.  She lives in Sydney, writing travel and humour articles, and is always on the lookout for a great new book.

Literary Clutter. Bookish bloggings from the cluttered mind and bookshelf of Melbourne author, George Ivanoff. George’s current teen novel is the computer-game inspired Gamers’ Quest.

Perpetually Adolescent. Sydney-based blogger William Kostakis (who doubles as Boomerang Books’ brand manager) is an award-winning, twenty-year-old young adult fiction author. His debut title, Loathing Lola, was released in 2008.   His blog deals with all things YA.

The Smell of Books. Sydney-based writer and editor Joel Blacklock is Boomerang Books’ new tech blogger. He’s passionate about the possibilities Web 2.0, social media and ebooks open up for authors, publishers, booksellers and the whole book industry.

The appointment of the seven bloggers is part of Boomerang Books’ ongoing content development strategy.

‘Content is king on the web and we’re focused on creating something that is more than just a standard e-commerce website.  We want to become Australia’s favourite destination for book lovers – not just a place where people go to buy books.  We’re committed to producing quality, thought-provoking content and instilling a sense of community for our members and visitors.’

‘We’re really happy with our new group of bloggers.  We’ve got a good spread of themes and we’ve got representation across Australia.  All of the bloggers were champing at the bit to publish their first blog posts and the quality of the early articles has been fantastic’.

Boomerang Books’ new blogs can be found online at http://content.boomerangbooks.com.au/content/main/boomerang-books-blogs.shtml.