Friday Midday Links: Is the Advance Model Going the Way of the DoDo Bird?
Gawker mocks Newscorp in its fight against Google. Murdoch plans to stick it to Google by selling his content to Bing, the Microsoft search engine. It reminds me of publishers. They don’t want to have Amazon in control of their pricing, but they seem more than happy to get into bed with Google.
How costly will it become for vendors and retailers to provide free wifi? Motion Picture lobbying group, the MPAA, got a town’s free wifi network shut down after discovering a possible, not yet confirmed, illegal download. Barnes and Noble, Borders, McDonald’s and the like are easy targets for piraters not wanting their illegal activities to be traced back to their home networks. Google, by the way, is giving free wifi away at airports this christmas.
PW looks at Amazon’s Vine program. This is where Amazon sends out a monthly email with all the products vendors are offering for review. It’s not just books. (I am actually a Vine member, but I’ve never requested anything nor reviewed anything under the Vine program). Authors are apparently not fans because the Vine reviews aren’t “professional” and they aren’t “consumers”. One author argues that because Vine folks receive free books, they are employees. Really?
Carolyn Reidy of Simon & Schuster will be in Korea next week talking about the digital market and new strategies. According to “advance script”, Reidy will argue that the digital market will comprise 25% of publishing in 7 years.
In the advance script, Reidy argued that “ebooks are still relatively small but are a rapidly growing part of our business, but could be significant (25 percent) within seven years.”
Brenda Hiatt updates her “Show Me the Money” page. I haven’t decided whether this helps or hurts authors given that the averages are so easily skewed and there are so few reporting. One thing that jumped out at me where the deals that Ballantine had made which seemed out of line with the other publishers. (Out of line on the high end). From Publishers’ Marketplace data, it appears Ballantine has paid in excess of six figures for three or more books to authors like Lindsay Graves, Kimberly Raye, Tessa Dare (2 sets of 3 book deals), Christy Reece, Tracy Anne Warren (who is now with Avon), Cherry Adair, Mariah Stewart (7 figure deal for 4 books), Nicole Jordan (250K-400K), Allison Brennan (500K+).
Lindsay Graves never made a bestseller list. Kimberly Raye squeaked into the USA Today list for the first two books (126 and 145 for books 1 and 2) but the nothing since 2008 has placed. Christy Reece’s books were published back to back to back this summer but she never placed on the bestseller list either. This isn’t to say that Graves, Raye or Reece aren’t great writers or that their books aren’t worthy of 6 figure deals or that they won’t earn out someday. It just highlights how uncertain the advance model is. Audrey Niffenegger received a $5 million advance and sold, according to Bookscan, under 40,000 copies.
Newer publishers are abandoning the advance like OR Press and Carina Press, modeling themselves after the digital press business model. If advances are eliminated (and I’m not convinced that they totally are. I think that there will be low advances and really high advances but not much in between), this will undoubtedly result in a loss of some talent who will choose not to risk copublishing or forego advances for their work. Will the resulting rise of the digital market and the broader economic opportunities lure new authors in? It’s hard to say at this point where we are going. I like to think that the market will become more diversified. Nathan Bransford argues that the publishing industry has to learn to minimize its risks and learn to leverage the internet to seek out its audience. It’s an uncertain time for those who make their money off of the written word. In the end, I want to believe that the changes will benefit the reader. What do you think?