In a well-attended public meeting (“we’ve learned our lesson, taken a great deal of enormous value from our effectively admitting guilt in DoJ collusion case. We’ve completely reformed our business model to be as transparent as possible, while behaving in as ethical a manner as possible. There are no more secret deals, not with each other or anyone,” said the CEO of one of the big 5 publishers) in New York’s Central Park (“It’s cold but at least we save money for essentials, like publishing books people want to read, and paying writers,” said the famous editor Ms. Ess Pon.) momentuous decisions about the future of publishing were reached today.
In a statement issued afterwards to the ever critical and always sceptical arts press, they said:
“The DoJ prosecution has been the wake-up call we needed, which made us finally realise we’re not an oligosony operating like a cartel at times. It’s a sellers market now, and we no longer control that, any more than we control access to retail display space or the pricing of books. We’ve been in denial for years, but now we’ve decided to move on and take effective steps. Accordingly, instead of devouring our own vitals in a futile quest to turn the clock back, we’ve taken a long hard look at what we need to do to survive the end of our almost total control of buying, and the ability to prevent anyone else from effectively selling reading matter. There are plenty of examples of industries who had monopsony or oligosony positions that ended, and not a few with monopoly or oligosony positions that were lost, because of changes. We’re going to learn and emulate those who survived and flourished after this, and stop burying our heads in the sand and trying to turn the clock back, and hurting our suppliers and customers, because that’s what the failures did. It’s all about being valuable to our suppliers and to our buyers, and everything in our new business model is focussed on that end. We’re middlemen, but we can provide great editorial and proof-reading and cover services, making better books. So long as our cut is small enough to be adequately covered by the value we add, we know we’re on a winner, sure to be popular with readers and authors alike. To make us cost effective at this, we’ve banned meetings from work-time, and are firing all the staff who do not actually do these things for 7 of their 8 hours a day. The senior staffers whose only task was dealing with B&N and mass distributors have voluntarily resigned, as this is such a diminishing piece of our business, we don’t need them any more, and what was the point in burdening customers with the cost of their salaries, which did so little value add for them? We’re setting up our own competing e-commerce sites and will be paying authors a larger percentage than Amazon, because we can, selling direct, and that’s what competitions about, isnt it? And we’re paying them for linking referals that end in purchase, because that’s such common sense we can’t think why we didn’t do it years ago. And to save money, as they add no value to readers or authors – and that’s what surviving and thriving the end of old status quo means… we’re selling or ending our leases on the ridiculously expensive offices in NYC. We’re going to spread out across America, picking on the cheaper areas because in an electronic age we really don’t benefit at all from being in a hothouse environment, but we do need to connect with our possible readers (and we’re going to be hiring people from these places and going to try for more science and commerce and technology graduates, instead of the same old liberal Arts, East-coasters. We want to reach all our possible readers, not just a tiny subsection who think and vote and live as we do.) We’re changing our buying strategy dramatically, if you’re a red state deer-hunting truck driver, or a blue state vegan gay political activist, there’ll be books designed to appeal you, in approximately the proportions you make up in the population. After all what on earth could ever give anyone the mindbogglingly dim idea that one size fits all? We know that the blue state vegan gay political activist won’t pay for a book intended to appeal red state deer-hunting truck driver, and we’re not so stupid as to assume the inverse could be true. And we’re in this to make money, for ourselves, obviously, but also our suppliers. That’s why books with appeal a 2% population section won’t make up 98% of what is for sale any more.
We’re using Baen and even Amazon as positive case studies and role models, to teach us about flexibility and things like great transparent accounting and reliable payments. And we’re all collecting real stats and hiring professional to make sure they give us the cutting edge over competitors…
Oh, and you do all know it is April the first, don’t you?” 😉