What Publishers Don’t Do

Andrew Wheeler

Andrew Wheeler spent 16 years as a book club editor, most notably for the Science Fiction Book Club, and has been a judge for the 2005 World Fantasy Awards and the 2009 Eisner Awards. He is now Marketing Manager for John Wiley & Sons.

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2 Responses

  1. David Oakes says:

    To be blunt, even the Publishers don’t see/don’t value the people who actually do the work. Give books the same credits as a Movie, and maybe people will begin to think about it. (Not that anyone cares about “Key Grip”, or respects them more than “Craft Services”, but at least they would know they exist.)

  2. JosephW says:

    I’m guessing this was originally published on another site because I, quite frankly, don’t see the “both comments” to which Mr Wheeler refers at the start of his “update.” (I saw exactly one and that was dated AFTER Mr Wheeler’s “update.”)

    But, I’m sorry for Mr Wheeler. He still doesn’t quite get it himself. If he can please explain why a publisher can “sell” hardbacks to a retailer like Wal-Mart which turns around and sells these books at DEEP discounts (eg, George R R Martin’s “A Dance With Dragons” lists for $35 but you can get it through Wal-Mart’s online store for $18.75 plus a mere 97 cents to ship to your home; that’s 46%). Then, go look at how much the same “book” sells for through the iTunes store: $14.99. So–where exactly is the publisher making its money? I can order a HARDBACK COPY for less than $4 more than its digital equivalent. So–are we supposed to believe that it only costs less than $4 for the paper and the ink and the binding and all the other incidental costs (shipping, storage, etc)? And it’s not like Wal-mart is alone. Barnes & Noble’s online store sells the book for $21.34 (a mere 39% savings off the list price) and free shipping. And the real topper? The physical copies that don’t sell at Wal-Mart or Barnes & Noble are usually returnable to the publisher. So please, Mr Wheeler, tell us EXACTLY how much money a PUBLISHER is selling a hypothetical $35 book to the major retailers so that THOSE retailers are making a profit when they’re selling the books at $18-20 a copy. Then, please tell us how much money the publisher makes from a $14.99 digital copy. (Based on the e-music model, Apple basically takes about 30-40% of each download–that works to 39-50 cents for each $1.29 track, or $3-4 for each $9.99 album–and the record label splits the remainder between the label itself, the artist and the songwriter/s.)

    Of course, Mr Wheeler won’t address this issue (because he likely doesn’t read the comments on this particular site but even if he did read this site, he still wouldn’t address the issue) because he’s not about to present real information that would discuss actual money matters. If he did something like that, the authors might find out just how badly they’re being screwed over and go to a self-publishing model (just as many independent musicians have done to get their music to an audience that the major labels don’t seem to service–at least until the musician becomes a “hot” superstar and everyone else is copying that musician’s style).