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The Future of Publishing: What Recent Changes Mean for Readers and Writers

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In a world of rapid change and uncertainty, one thing that remains constant is our love for books. Whether it’s the feel of a book in our hands, the excitement of diving into a new story, or the satisfaction of seeing our own words in print, reading and writing books continue to be integral parts of our lives. But as we navigate the turbulent waters of today’s world, we must also pay attention to what’s happening in the publishing industry.

In this guest post by author Jermaine Martin from The Underdog Press, we will discuss recent developments in publishing and what they mean for readers and writers alike.

For more info about Jermaine, please check out my interview with Jermaine as well!

The Future of Publishing

If you’re reading this, I’ll assume you either love reading books, writing books, or both. Today we live in turbulent times, and with everything going on in the world, I want to discuss some things going on in publishing. 

Now, unless you are a writer, this may not seem like big news, but on the contrary, it’s significant for everyone that loves the touch and smell of books. If reading or writing is something, you find to be a fundamental part of life. If they help center you, relax you, or give your life meaning, you should start paying attention to what’s happening in the industry. The two points I will write about could each get in-depth articles on their own, but I want to touch each one high level here.

First, let’s start with the recent attempted merger between Penguin Random House and Simon and Schuster. Judge Florence Y. Pan blocked the merger late last year, disrupting an attempt to consolidate the big five into the big four. Just so everyone is aware, the big five publishers currently are:

•           Penguin Random House

•           Macmillan

•           Simon and Schuster

•           Hachette

•           HarperCollins

That’s all. Most books published in the U.S. fall under one of these five publishers through other imprints they have. A lot of people need to realize this. This merger represented a decrease in actual publishers and, in a roundabout way, a decrease in competition at its most fundamental level. It also represented an opportunity for increased efficiencies within the publishing industry. We can only begin to speculate on how this would have changed the book industry if we knew the judge’s specific reasoning for denying the merger.

Many assume that with fewer publishers comes less opportunity for new authors to get their books into the hands of readers to make their marks. That’s true to a certain extent. With money for advances becoming less available, there could be potentially fewer opportunities at traditional publishers. But as Microcosm Publishing has shown, there is still an opportunity for smaller publishers to start filling in the gaps and creating a new ecosystem of publishers.

That’s my second point and question you should ask. How does this help authors? These new ecosystems may be more beneficial to authors, especially new ones. We all know that making a living solely as a writer is hard unless you are a brand unto yourself. But even now, only a few writers feel they receive appreciable compensation for their stories. Small and medium presses can foster competition and give new and established writers a chance to gain more exposure to their books.

Another potential benefit comes for the readers. Big publishers must provide a consistent product to maintain their size and scope. That’s why the merger mentioned above makes sense on the one hand. By increasing efficiencies and consolidating efforts, the publisher could make higher profits, helping to keep the lights on. That quality is beneficial because it sets a bar in the industry that gives readers confidence in what they are reading. 

The downside to that consistent product is the need for more variation in ideas. It’s a joy seeing stories from multiple perspectives lining the shelves of bookstores. Seeing stories and methods of storytelling as diverse as the people of this country is a fantastic thing that we should all be happy to see. 

In the past, people had to step outside their comfort zones more, and having varied stories on the shelf allows us to do that safely. Stories allow people to gain an understanding and perspective of different cultures and ideas. If we don’t take the time to foster those ideas, then we will grow stagnant as a culture because culture lives and evolves in the stories we share.

Here’s to diverse characters, stories, and the writers that create them. Happy reading.

I hope you enjoyed this guest post by Jermaine! Let us know your thoughts, and as always, happy reading! ❤️