Publish and Be Damned

Oh dear, it seems the publishing world has got itself in rather a snit over the prospect of Waterstone’s proposed takeover of the Ottakar’s chain, as Simon Jenkins notes here:

“Waterstone’s, once “the beautiful place”, was this week referred to the Competition Commission for trying to gobble up the now more saintly Ottakar’s. At its heels were all the relevant high priests – the Society of Authors, the Publishers Association, Michael Holroyd, Alan Bennett and old curiosity shopkeepers everywhere.

  • No, you

  • just the usual swings and roundabouts of the marketplace; you make a little less profit per unit sold but you recoup (and hopefully exceed) what you lose on margins by increasing sales.

    Don’t you think it’s a bit arrogant to assume that your grasp of textbook economics gives you a better perspective on the economic situation of the bulk of authors than the trade group which actually represents authors? Come to that, the Grumpy Old Bookman – in the very same post that you linked to – suggests that things might be a bit more complicated than that, and that retailer-driven depression of royalties might actually be a problem:

    “As I have pointed out more than once … some of the wonderful cut-price offers that are made to readers are so structured that, under the terms of a typical contract, the author will get nothing at all.”

    See, for instance, this post on The Book People.