Two Important Publishing Facts Everyone Gets Wrong

Almost everything being said about publishing today is predicated on two facts that are dead wrong. The first is that publishers are somehow being hurt by ebook sales. The second is that independent bookstores are being crushed. The opposite is true in both cases, and without understanding this, most of what everyone says about publishing is complete bollocks.

Let’s take the health of publishers first. Below you will see that profit margins at the major publishers are either flat or improving. For three of the top publishers, margins have improved quite a bit:

Publisher profit margins


Here we can see why. Margins on ebooks are much higher than the previous cash-cow, hardbacks:


We even have a slide from Harper Collins to investors showing a breakdown of these ebook profits compared to hardback profits:


So while revenue is down in other formats, the explosion of revenue in ebooks more than makes up for it:


Nearly three BILLION dollars of new revenue, which is more than double the $1.2 billion lost elsewhere.

Overall revenue is therefore up:


If ebooks are doing so well, bookstores must be going bust, right?

Only some of them. The large big-box discounters, who overbuilt in the retail boom of the 80s and 90s, are indeed suffering. Meanwhile, the independent bookstores that those big-box discounters nearly pushed into extinction are roaring back. While over 1,000 stores closed during the B&N and Borders expansion leading up to 2007, since 2009, the number of indie bookstores has risen over 20%. And sales are up over 8 percent year on year the past three years, which is far more growth than the overall book business.

What happened? I liken it to the rescue of Yellowstone National Park when the Canadian Wolf was reintroduced to that ecosystem. An overpopulation of deer was leading to the destruction of saplings due to bucks rubbing their antlers and destroying trees. Fewer trees meant more erosion. The landscape was changing, and species downstream were being pushed to the brink. Bringing the wolf back restored balance and saved those downstream species.

At an O’reilly Publishing event this year, I presented this as my Roshambo Theory of Book Distribution. It looks like this:

RoShamBo 1


Each of the three entities dominate their clockwise neighbor in some crucial aspect while being vulnerable to the neighbor on the other side in an equally important aspect.

Let’s start with the big-box discounters, which came into being at the same time other retail channels were expanding (like WalMart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s). With far superior selection and prices, they drove out their competition, which had smaller footprints and higher prices:

RoShamBo 2


Over 1,000 indies closed during this time. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan made a movie that was more about this than about AOL, despite the title (You’ve Got Mail) coming from the latter.

In the mid to late 90s, retail began moving online. Suddenly, the biggest strength of the big boxes — price and selection — paled before the power of “everything stores.” Borders bookstores went under in 2011. B&N has been showing quarterly losses, even as it closes stores and shrinks shelf space within existing stores. The advantage in one direction became a serious weakness in the other, as the big boxes couldn’t compete with online retailers:

RoShamBo 3


Independent bookstores, meanwhile, have advantages that online retailers don’t. Physical location, immediacy, hand-selected curation, a focus on local topics and authors, community events, fresh coffee, browsing, personal help, and so on. These are all things that the big box discounters did well enough that their advantage in selection and price was able to dominate. But online retailers are too weak in these areas to push out independents:

RoShamBo 4


At first, it appears that each of the three parties has an advantage that trumps one other. The problem here is that big box discounters don’t excel enough in either area (physical space or price/selection) to beat the others. In fact, what looks to be a balanced ecosystem between three retail paths will probably devolve into simply online and independent booksellers (the latter will form regional chains). There are enough people who will support independents and pay full price and enough who will shop online when they know what they need that the two will coexist.

So feel bad for hardbacks and paperbacks, but don’t feel bad for stories, storytellers, or readers. The latter trio is doing just fine. As are publishers.

And feel bad for big-box discounters if you want, but remember that they were far worse for mom-and-pop stores than online retail has been. In fact, since the advent of online retail, we’ve seen their numbers and their revenues rebound.

You can’t argue with either fact. Publishers and small bookshops are, on the whole, doing better now than they were in 2007, when the Kindle launched. That’s irrefutable. And so any conversation about the effect online retail and ebooks are having on the industry need to begin right here, rather than assume the opposite is true and then spread fear and doubt to generate clicks.



72 responses to “Two Important Publishing Facts Everyone Gets Wrong”

  1. This is the sort of post I’m going to save the link to because it is easier to just point someone here than try to explain it myself.

    Thanks for putting together great data.

  2. Love this! The existence of these niche independent stores is a great replacement for the closing branches of the big chains. There’s this wonderful independent store I found in Dublin this summer specialising in Irish history and socialist theory – exactly the sort of thing that’s built to offer a useful alternative to Amazon: by being an ideal thing for readers with known, specific interests. Less local competition in the form or Borders or B&N helps make this possible!

  3. Thanks for this! Loved the Ninc14 talk (that included the above slides), but an author near me had a question she never got to ask. Perhaps it’s on the authorearnings page or the numbers aren’t possible at the moment. It had to do with the pure indie authors numbers growth. You were comparing growth of ebooks, hardcover, paperbacks… all from the Big5, in terms of millions of dollars. She had hoped there was a million dollar figure (estimate) for indie author sales, at least currently.

  4. It’s really interesting that SO MANY people truly believe these two points. Even casual readers, who believe that they are fighting for the underdog when they buy traditional published “books,” because “physical books are a dying breed.” Are these trad publishing houses doing some secret ninja marketing technique to tap into everyone’s inner hipster? Especially after this Hachette and Amazon issue. Amazon is suddenly the bad guy again, when, as you pointed out, Amazon is kind of saving these true indie bookstores. People hate change, and they’re clinging to this notion that ebooks are killing the book market, which is really helping publishing houses save face.

    1. When I buy an ebook, I think to myself “I’m helping a publisher right now.”

  5. I find it curios Hachette is losing money, while most others are making money, sureley Hachette sees that fighting Amazon is a losing battle now? I do feel sorry for Penquin, but most of what they sell is in the open market, so it makes sense they will lose money since they don’t have rights to a lot of the classics they sell.

  6. Brilliantly put, Hugh. I’ve been beating this same drum, mostly in private conversations, and it’s nice to have someone put together the facts so succinctly. It’s amazing what happens to your thinking when you become evidence-based rather than assertion-based in your approach. Wish more people in the industry — both publishers, booksellers, and writers — would do the same. But then, you’d have to stop writing articles like this, and what would you do with all that time? ;)

  7. Hi Hugh,

    I’ve reconsidered my tweet and decided that I needed to expand upon it. I do see what you are doing here, but your opening paragraph is simply not correct. It has been established since at least last year that the trope “independent bookstores are being crushed” is simply no longer true. Yes, I know that you’re trying to disprove it, but no one cites it as a fact any more – not in October 2014.

    You’re arguing a point which I already proved false in September 2013:

    Hell, this point is so thoroughly debunked that even has admitted in April 2014 that Amazon isn’t killing indie bookstores

    And that’s just one of a half dozen articles I could like to.

    1. I hear people recite this like it’s gospel all the time. Maybe you just travel in more-informed circles than I do. :)

    2. The readers I speak to think all bookstores are being destroyed by Amazon. And it’s one of the pillars that supposedly supports the anti-Amazon Hachette articles. The death of literary culture, and all of that.

      The news that independent bookstores are not suffering, in general, has not gotten out to most people.

      1. I notice people trying to rally around B&N as the “plucky underdog” seem to develop selective amnesia about the disappearance of places like Waldenbooks and B. Dalton in the mid-90’s, even when the DNA evidence is sprayed all over B&N walls (sorry for the visual). Live by the sword, die by the sword.

        Indie bookstores seem to be making a rebound. I would love to see one incorporate an Expresso book machine and a large selection of e-/POD titles.

        As far as the death of “literary culture” goes…I’m not too broken up. If you’re treating books as exclusionary status symbols, 1066 called. It wants its medieval mindset back.

        1. The great Portland independent, Powell’s Books, has an Espresso book machine. I’d never seen one before, and at first I thought I was going to be able to get a latte! (Powell’s has a coffee shop, too.)

          Thanks for this fascinating post, Hugh. These are exciting times for writers, especially those of us that are thinking about how our collaborations with traditional publishers can be augmented by our own self-published work (ebooks, interactive workshops, etc.).

      2. What most people don’t realize about the Amazon-Hachette dispute is that there are two issues involved: (1) Traditional publishing has problems with the way publishers treat authors (those profit margins come out of advances and royalties), and (2) Amazon’s cutthroat business practices. Amazon likes to present it as “We’re keeping prices low to benefit readers,” and I know a number of authors who are happy with CreateSpace. But Authors United has a point: Amazon is using its market dominance to put the squeeze on Hachette by penalizing its authors, and that smells awfully like a monopoly to me.

    3. There were two major chains in Australia: Dymocks and Borders. Borders is gone, of course, and Dymocks is still around, albeit in a very weakened state. As Hugh has said elsewhere, books are subject to protectionist laws in Australia, which is why you see paperbacks — and I don’t mean the oversized softcovers — priced at $20. Now, let’s grant that the cost of living in Australia is different and wages are higher than in the US (my job pays $30-40K higher in Sydney than in San Diego or San Francisco), but even so, $20 AUD for a paperback is still more than twice the price of a paperback in the US.

      Predictably, Australians have voted with their wallets and flocked to Amazon. When the Kindle final hit our shores here, it was a big hit. I went from seeing people reading books on public transport to reading their Kindles in just the span of a year or two.

      As for the indie bookshops, we have heaps of them all over Sydney and Melbourne, and to a lesser extent in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, but that’s only due to those cities being smaller, I think. As I get close to publishing my first book, I will focus my energies on doing in-store events, which bookshop owners here love.

      Sadly, the protectionist racket doesn’t seem to be coming to an end. With more and more people self publishing and setting their own prices for their books, however, Australians may get better prices that way, instead of relying on the big publishing houses to lobby for rescinding the laws the ‘protect’ them, even though it’s clear the laws are killing their business.

      1. I live in Melbourne (and pop up to Sydney occasionally), and I for one can vouch for the strength of independent book shops in these cities. As other people have said, Dymocks, Borders and Angus Robertson (remember them?) have either gone out of business or are limping on.

        GOOD, I say! I think it’s quite similar to the resurgence of vinyl and the destruction of CDs. Vinyls are beautiful objects, but certainly more cumbersome than CDs, which is why they disappeared for so long. But whatever advantage CDs had over vinyl has been destroyed by faaaaar more convenient digital files. Of course many people still like physical copies of music, and since digital music has taken ‘convenience’ out of the equation (as far as physical music goes), why not just buy the vinyl? They’re slow and cumbersome, but they has character that a CD does not. Besides, most (maybe every?) new vinyl comes with a basic CD so you can put the music on your iPhone.

        Anyway, that’s how I see it with independent bookshops. Convenient and cheap Amazon has killed the crappy characterless chain-bookshops, opening up room for the slow and cumbersome (but beautiful) independents. Pretty good turn of events, I reckon.

    4. Amazon destroying indie bookstores is a “zombie meme” that continues to surface. Like smallpox, it’s not dead till every pocket is located and eradicated. We’re still a long way from that and, frankly, I doubt we’ll ever get there.

  8. The key element of joy in this post: READERS! They never go away.

  9. I’d been assuming that independent bookstores aren’t that different from B&N and Borders, and that the only reason they’ve been doing well these last few years is the temporary respite offered by the struggles of Borders and B&N. This post helped me see why Amazon is hurting the big chains and helping the independents.

    I’m still not convinced that the independents will survive for long in the present form. They would really have to morph into something very different than what they are to truly exploit a new niche in a digital world. I don’t think curation will be their raison d’etre. Online sites could curate just as well, if not better. It will have to be the community angle. Bookstore would have to be an awesome physical community space for booklovers. VR type ereaders. Print-on-demand kiosks. Author readings. Coffee and muffins. I’m not convinced that this will work–that it will be profitable enough to sustain. But this post has made me more open to the idea that something like this might be in our future. Of course, once the concept takes hold, we might see a new chain store emerge to exploit the niche. That seems to be the general trajectory of maturing industries.

    1. Check out Third Place Books just north of Seattle. It pretty much exactly what you describe.

      And happily, I love less than five minutes away :)

      1. I’ll check it out one of these days. Thanks!

  10. rochambeau

    1. I’d never heard Rock, Paper, Scissors called this either, and was quite surprised to see this slide at a presentation by Hugh, wherein I figured he spelled “Rochambeau” oddly. But hey, here’s the story–and the conclusion is that they really don’t know where the name came from–but that’s the way it is typically spelled:

  11. That Harper Collins slide is a bit simplistic:

    no author advances

    no cost for editorial, marketing etc.

    it’s just “naked” unit cost

    What about all that digital infrastructure? Yes ebooks may be mroe profitable (at the right price points), btut o say the auhtor’s royalty is the only cost is a bit too simplistic…

    1. Author advances are loans against the royalties, not an additional cost

      As for the infrastructure to distribute e-books, they are paying Amazon 30% of the price to do so, and that easily covers the infrastructure costs.

      As far as the internal infrastructure needed to produce an e-book, it’s basically the same as for producing a paper book.

      If anything, I think they are understating some of their costs for paper, $3.85 to print, warehouse, ship, and handle returns on a hardcover seems low. I suspect that there are some hidden costs here (warehousing for example) that aren’t included.

      I find it interesting that the increase in their profit ($2.20) is noticeably higher than the decrease in the royalty that they pay the author ($1.58). So they could afford to pay the authors the same royalty and still make more money, while lowering the price to the reader almost in half.

      1. Kurt Flamer-Caldera Avatar
        Kurt Flamer-Caldera

        Good catch David. It appeared to me that authors are getting ripped off as their royalties were nearly halved in the e-book model. So the increased margins for e-books are gained to an extent on the backs of the authors, which is not just counter intuitive but unfair. According to this slide, authors’ agents have some room to negotiate better deals for their clients.

  12. Almost everything being said about publishing today is predicated on two facts that are dead wrong. The first is that publishers are somehow being hurt by ebook sales.

    In the short term, I agree. The figures show substantial profits from eBooks.

    In the medium to long term, I disagree. The competitive advantage of publishers is their ability to produce paper products, get them into distribution channels, and into the hands of consumers. The production, distribution, and retailing is a substantial operation.

    As books move to paper, the publishers’ competitive advantage diminishes. The large and growing market share of independents demonstrates the publishers’ competitive advantage isn’t needed for eFiction.

    As the marketing advantege that comes from paper books declines with the decline of paper, publishers lose the powerful indirect marketing effect that spills over to their eBooks.

    In a world of eFiction, what is the publishers’ competitive advantage? If they don’t have one, then eBooks are not good for their medium to long term health.

    1. As books move to paper, the publishers’ competitive advantage diminishes.

      Now, that sentence is just backasswards. It should say,

      “As books move to eBooks, the publishers’ competitive advantage diminishes.”

    2. I agree with you. Publishers ebook margins are propping up their declining print book margins. Executives who only look to the next quarter figures are making decisions and that’s what is stifling their innovation and ability to cope with the future, which is rushing toward them faster than they realize.

      Publishers see Amazon as their competition, but the real competition is indie authors. Indie authors are taking market share from publishers in ebooks (now 30%+ of sales), and making inroads with print. If publishers don’t wake up soon it’ll all be too late.

      1. I’d quibble on the idea that indie authors are in competition with trad publishers. On some level, we are, but on the important points, we’re not. “Readers” are not a finite resource. A reader of a S&S-published book is not a reader lost to me, and vice versa. “A reader” may choose to spend $9.99 on a Hachette book, versus $5.99 for mine+ $2.99 for yours+ $0.99 for a boxed set featuring 12 authors of YA mermaid stories *in that purchase,* but that reader’s purchase of the Hachette book does not forbid her from *also* purchasing mine, yours, and a dozen others’.

        Amazon, however, IS in competition with the trad5 via its Montlake and other in-house imprints (which are the parts of Amazon that make me most uncomfortable, and keep me on the edges of the “oo-rah, Amazon 110%” camp). But where they are in true competition is not even the in-house imprints. It’s the DATA.

        Tradpubs show no initiative or indication that they care about actual, real-time sales numbers. The entire trad distribution setup doesn’t deal in real-time numbers. When your goggles only see six months ago, looking into the future is still looking backwards.

        1. Competition doesn’t involve being forbidden to do anything. It means two or more products are available to the same consumer, in a single consumer transaction, where the consumer does not buy all products. The products are competing for the consumer dollar in that specific transaction. The consumer makes a choice each time she buys. One book(s) wins that transaction. All others lose.

          The same type of competition happens with each subsequent transaction. The consumer buys a limited number of units from a much larger selection. Aggregate all these transactions over all consumers, and we have competition among books.

          It doesn’t matter if authors compete. They don’t matter. The books compete. Books by dead authors compete. Books by live authors compete. Books by socialist authors compete. Books by capitalist authors compete. Books by anarchist authors compete. If the books are offered in the market, they compete.

          Consumers are finite. Their eyeball hours are finite, And the dollars in their pockets are finite. Books compete for each of these finite things.

          So all books compete with all other books. It doesn’t matter how they get to market. Doesn’t matter if they come from Random House or KDP. Some books are strong competitors, like two Romances, Some are weak competitors, like a Romance and a book on fluid dynamics.

          God Bless the free market.

  13. […] Two important publishing facts EVERYONE gets wrong, by Hugh Howey […]

  14. I find it quite interesting that the figures cited use a sale price of $14.99 for ebooks. Most publishers these days are selling at $10.99-11.99-12.99, which cuts into their margins quite a bit. That $7.87 profit per $14.99 ebook shrinks down to $2.87 if those ebooks are sold at $9.99.

    1. The list price you see on Amazon is not the MSRP set by the publisher (and which they get paid for). There is discounting involved, and the retailer takes all of that hit on their end.

      Keep in mind that this comparison is with hardbacks, which is when publishers jack up their ebook prices. When compared to paperbacks, the $9.99 and even $7.99 ebooks provide better profits.

      True printing/shipping/warehousing/return costs are higher for print books than given by HC as well.

    2. No, no, no.
      The profit on a 15 dollar ebook is 5 dollars, (any book over 9.99 gets 30% return)
      the profit on a 10 dollar ebook is 7 dollars.(any book under 10 bucks gets 70% return)
      Everyone is better off if books sell at the 9.99 price point, the reader saves 30%, and the publisher makes more money, and sells more too. Anyone who wants to sell an ebook above 9.99 knows nothing about Amazon.
      Why do publishers overprice ebooks? To protect sales of hard copies, there is no other reason, it surely has nothing to do with making money, because the publisher and the writer lose money.

      1. John:

        Self-publishers using KDP as a platform for their ebooks are subject to the $9.99 threshold, above which they are punished by having their “royalty” cut to 30% rather than 70%. The Big 5 are not loading their ebooks up that way, and no doubt have a different deal. I suspect Hugh has more information on this than the average writer.

        1. remember, those numbers aren’t ones that Hugh came up with, they are what Harper Collins sent out to their stockholders. If they aren’t providing accurate info to their stockholders, things are even more rotten than we think they are.

        2. What everyone loves about Amazon is that everyone gets the same deal, there is no secret higher pay to Hachette or anyone else. If Hugh publishes a 15 dollar ebook, or I do, or the big 5 does, we all get 30%, there are no different deals.
          Amazon is fighting for the right to reduce their price to 9.99 and PAY THEM MORE, which is what makes Hachette look like the wrong ones here. But Hachette wants to protect the price of printed books, so they gladly take their 30% so they can claim to their stock holders that ebooks are not profitable and they need to keep acting like dinosaurs.

          1. Actually, there are different deals for every major publisher. Amazon just worked out a new distribution deal with Simon & Schuster, and Hachette are still dragging their feet. That would not be the case if all publishers were covered by the KDP terms. The percentages that Amazon agrees to pay a BIg Five house are not the same that they offer to you and you and me.

          2. Everyone is mixing up terminology here, KDP is Kindle Direct Publishing, that is an offer to people who publish only through Amazon, KDP is not the reseource the big 5 uses to sell their ebooks since they are the publishers, not Amazon.

  15. This showed up on my google news feed today:

    “Amazon is doing the world a favor by crushing book publishers”

  16. Hugh, im writing my proposal for my grad school thesis on marketing in the ebook revolution and i would love to get my hands on some of your sources! Can we talk?

  17. Great piece. But it doesn’t address the very real problems associated with electronic reading, identified in this very fine and readable essay:

  18. Quote: “Publishers and small bookshops are, on the whole, doing better now than they were in 2007, when the Kindle launched. That’s irrefutable,” Howey concludes. So Hachette and Authors United might as well give it up: They have nothing to fight for.

    Where to start?

    1. Hachete is not fighting about its present income. It’s fighting about its future against an aggressive and market-dominating Amazon that has its eyes on that added ebook income publishers are making. Amazon sees that money and wants it. To state the obvious, we are in the middle of a war over those ebook profits. In no way can this current struggle be interpreted as a win for the big publishers. It could very well end up a defeat.

    2. Authors United isn’t in this for the currently up profits of large publishers. Its name is “Authors United.” They are in this because Amazon has been kicking them and their readers around like a football its battle with Hachette. That they don’t like. That they want to see stopped.

    Author’s United has authors who know their business, having in some cases made millions from their writing. They know that they’re far more likely to benefit from having a publisher flush with profits than from having an Amazon pocketing that same money and using it to grow other areas of its business. What they’re doing in eminently sensible.

    1. I don’t even know what you are talking about. amazon isn’t stealing writers, Hachette came to Amazon and asked them to sell their books. And your statement that Amazon is pocketing money, are you serious? Amazon pays 30% or 70%, of which the big 5 give 12.5% to the writers, so who is pocketing money?
      Hachette is more than welcome to sell their own books, why don’t they? Because they want Amazon to do the work for them.

  19. […] about digital disruption in the book trade? The revelation that the key traditional businesses are not being disrupted at all, right? Well, that may be overstating the case, but not too far – at least according to Hugh […]

  20. […] own presentation at #ninc14 on 24th October is reflected, in part, in his new posting at his site, Two Important Publishing Facts Everyone Gets Wrong, and in Live-Blogging from NINC, in which he goes over some of the stand-out points touched on […]

  21. […] blog post has been going around lately, in which Hugh Howey (bestselling author and book industry watcher) […]

  22. Yet another great post. As someone who is a debut Thriller Author and who works in Finance I appreciate your analysis, graphs, and informative writing. So much of what we are fed today in news, on tv, and at work is total bunk. Thanks for setting us straight.

  23. Great article – would it be ok to reblog this on my website?

  24. Irrespective of whether ‘e’ or hard book it should not pose a threat. Both formats are here to stay but it can be envisaged in 22nd Century where print books in the home will became less, mostly as an aesthetic piece of décor to create a conversational piece at diner parties, (reduce space and dust cleaning), and confined to the tablet. Libraries will follow to reduce costs and able to offer a great range via a major database :

  25. Mr. Howey – this is fascinating info. You are truly a titan of indie publishing. I like to think of myself as a micro-titan. :) The way you and other indie leaders crunch these numbers is impressive. Thanks for doing the heavy lifting that I can’t. :) Here’s to your continued success!

  26. Another aspect in the game is the increasing saturation of the ebook platforms with books (and junk books). Have you ever attended a big open-air concert? No, not in the seated area, but down there in the arena, in the middle of the crowd. AC/DC, Madonna, U2, Lady Gaga, Coldplay, you name it. What does all this have to do with the Kindle eBook market?
    Exactly: The place is cramped. It feels tight. You wave and cheer at your hero or heroine but go unnoticed (unless you are an 18-year old girl, sitting topless on your boyfriend’s shoulders and waving furiously with your bra). You are a tiny particle in a sea of bodies. You get shoved around. You feel the elbows and sweaty bodies of the people around you.

    This is what it must feel like if you are a book in the Amazon Kindle Store.

    The State Of The Ebook Market

    The eBook market is getting very crowded. At the time of this post – and we will have to update this section often – the facts of Kindle eBook publishing market are as follows:
    * 3.0 million eBook titles in the Kindle Store, of which 2.4 English titles
    * More than 70,000 titles are added every month
    * Kindle book supply grows at 30% per year
    The ebook market is still growing and you can earn a lot of money, if you get things right and have a bit of luck. But the eBook market is also maturing; and mature markets have their own rules and are characterized by one factor: fierce competition, survival of the best. What one needs here is an exact map of what niches sell and which do not, and where there is the least degree of competition. The guy’s from e-book market intelligence at have done a great 10 minutes video analysing this:

  27. Thank you for sharing this article. In our area (Edmonton Alberta) one of our strongest independent book stores perished a few years ago but another seems to be as strong as ever. Not sure why one didn’t make it while the other did but competition from the big box stores and how it was ultimately managed finically might have been the key factor. Our national chains (Chapters, Indigo and Coles) seem to be doing okay from the look of their well stocked stores but I notice they are now selling a lot more stuff that is only tangentially book related. I’m guilty of having believed in the two myths and was thinking the only option for getting a book published was as a self published e-book. I had assumed that only on-line sales of self published digital books were growing and that traditional book sales were declining. Hence I assumed the publishers would have struggles to sustain themselves and wouldn’t be looking for as many new books. I see from your information that some of my assumptions were in error. This leaves me wondering if I should pursue an agent to try to sell a book to the mainstream publishers, or just go the self publish ebook route. As a first timer,I’m finding it is challenging to figure out how to best get out there.

  28. […] this isn’t a blogger shout-out, but I did find this article on how the publishing industry and indie bookstores are not, in fact, dying very interesting. Especially since it says I can stop feeling guilty that my exclusive e-reading […]

  29. […] Two Important Publishing Facts Everyone Gets Wrong | Hugh Howey […]

  30. Thank you Hugh. I’m a new novelist, and have been following your posts. I went to a seminar this weekend and was interested to hear, still, some of the most entrenched attitudes still present. At the same time, other publishers are embracing new technologies with enthusiasm. We live in interesting times! Meantime, thank you for providing us all with the information we need

  31. […] don’t forget to check the Two Important Publishing Facts Everyone Gets Wrong! :) Almost back to the real world… three weeks off can really help! :D Have a great […]

  32. […] to popular belief, publishers are not hurt by ebook sales. Check out this compilation of ebook profit margins  by author, Hugh C. […]

  33. Large publishers may be doing well, but small and mid sized publishers continue to struggle. Not all retailers share the profit margins that Target and Wal-Mart command. Smaller publishers can help new or unknown authors get into the market, but they do not get 25% profit margins.

  34. In Chinese, the word “Tao” means “the way”, so if one wanted to learn how to be a badass, they would follow the concept of “Tao of badass”

  35. […] Two Important Publishing Facts Everyone Gets Wrong – Almost everything being said about publishing today is predicated on two facts that are dead wrong. The first is that publishers are somehow being hurt by ebook sales. The second is that independent bookstores are being crushed. – Hugh C. Howey […]

  36. Do you think dating is only dominated by the young? Do you really think that way? Being romantic in public places aren’t acceptable for the elderly? What make you think older people can’t have a relationship with people of the opposite sex? If they can manage to find a boyfriend or girlfriend, do they need to date in a quiet manner? You may want to reconsider your thoughtAs a youngster, you might be wondering how could a 58-year-old lady and a 64-year-old gentleman manage to date.

  37. […] from self-published authors, or authors at smaller indie publishers. Even as small bookstores are experiencing an amazing renaissance – hooray for local […]

  38. “Elderly people can’t date.” Is that what you are saying? Do you really think that way? Will you be saying people in their 50s can’t show everyone that they are having relationship? Or do you think elderly people should not date at all? Do you even think elderly couples need to date in places that are invisible to public? You may want to reconsider your thought Have you thought of the reasons why elderly people have relationship to their opposite sex?

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  40. Hugh,

    I think you need to put Amazon on this chart as well (obviously just the book revenue/profit, let’s keep it all oranges).

    I’d like to see the whole picture here.

  41. […] can charge less for an ebook but receive a higher profit […]

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    in the remaining seasons.

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