Kindle: The Greatest Publishing Business Model Since Gutenberg
- “The Great Gatsby” was first published April 10, 1925. After a slow start, the title has been racking up sales for 85 years. This is free money, for which Scribner has done nothing.
Great for Authors:
- This was also in the pockets of the author’s grandchildren, Bobbie and Cecelia Lanahan, with zero deductions for projected returns.
- Amazon.com is keeping old titles available, something no bricks-and-mortar bookstore can possibly do—not even the giant boxes of Barnes & Noble or Borders.
Kindle vs. Mainstream Book Publishing
Today, the main business of mainstream book publishers is gobbling up vast quantities of energy in order to turn trees into landfill. Books are printed on paper, bound, jacketed and shipped on a fully returnable basis to the booksellers that ordered them. The leftover books are sent to warehouses.
This bizarre consignment system—unique in retailing—is detritus leftover from the Great Depression that nobody has had the cajones to change in 80 years. Bookstores do not need to pay for books for 30 to 90 days, which means the publisher takes all the risk. As a result of this nutsy-fagen consignment system, somewhere between 35% and 40% of all books shipped to booksellers are returned to the publishers’ warehouses, whereupon one of three things may happen to them:
- They are reshipped to booksellers that sold out their original orders.
- They are sold as remainders for a tiny fraction of the original cost and shipped to bargain bookstores.
- They are pulped and become landfill.
Consider the 20 Separate Costs of a Printed Book
Once the editorial process is finished, the book goes to the printer. Here are the costs:
(1) Paper (for text); (2) boards for binding; (3) paper for jacket; (4) printing the text; (5) printing the jacket; (6) printing the binding; (7) binding the book; (8) jacketing the bound book; (9) carton, cartoning and packing the books; (10) shipping to bookstores and warehouses; (11) warehousing; (12) unpacking and shelving books at bookstores; (13) carton, cartoning and repacking unsold books (35% to 40%) of original order; (14) shipping returned copies to warehouses; (15) unpacking and shelving returned books; (16) shipping returned books to remainder stores and/or (17 ) to the pulping company; (18) pulping; (19) sending pulp to landfill; (20) plowing the pulp into landfill.