The Future of Book Publishing: Two Predictions

Amazon EncoreHere’s a prediction: within three years, we’ll see the publishing industry split into two tiers. Bestselling authors will work with traditional publishers–Simon & Schuster, Random House, and HarperCollins. And new authors will prove themselves in the self-publishing arena before they’re allowed to play in the big leagues.

If you’re an emerging author, you’ve probably already stumbled into this world. You know it’s practically impossible to get the attention of an established publisher. And if you do get lucky and find a publisher, the marketing department (now staffed by a couple of 24-year-old interns) all but ignore your book while they focus efforts on proven authors. Your paltry 10% royalty doesn’t really matter since your sales figures are so low. After six weeks, your publisher pronounces your book sales “disappointing” and loses interest.

At the same time, Amazon is opening doors for self-published authors. In May of 2009, the company quietly launched Amazon Encore, its first imprint as a publishing company. Using both sales figures and customer reviews, Amazon identifies books with potential and invites their (often self-published) authors to sign with Amazon Encore. The selected books are then formatted for all platforms (print, ebook and audio) and reintroduced into the marketplace–backed by Amazon’s substantial marketing muscle.

The number of titles published by Amazon Encore is small so far, and the imprint seems focused on novels. But if you’re invited to play, word on the street is that the royalty deals are far sweeter than those offered by traditional publishers.

And here’s another prediction: within ten years, serious self-published authors are going to wonder why they ever needed any publisher–Random House or Amazon Encore.