The big six have still not hired anyone to help them understand history. In 1992 I owned a growing chain of video stores. The movie companies had a difficult time with us. They didn’t want us to rent videos, but realized they couldn’t NOT sell to us (for many years the income we created was typically more than made in the theaters). So, they artificially inflated the price of most movies to “offset their losses”. Want to buy Patriot Games? It’s gonna cost you about $100 in 1992 (Though Disney’s Aladdin would only cost you $24.95). It worked for a while, but when’s the last time you went to a video store (no fair counting Red Box). Fast forward a few years… Spotify, Pandora, many others… Music companies continue to struggle with music licensing, but at least they’ve started to move (too slowly) in the right direction. Yet, book publishers continue to operate in the “completely clueless” category. (Clueless would have also been about $100, btw).
I’ve long since stopped buying most of my books from publishers. There are amazing resources online for open education texts, and most of my casual reading comes from self-published authors on Amazon. Meanwhile, the big six are biting one of the last few hands that feed them. Libraries are still happy to pay a LOT of money for books (unlike me). However, if they keep being starved out of the market, they’ll soon stop being “places where you check out books”. Public libraries are already figuring out that they are gathering and learning places. It’s only a matter of time before they figure out a new business model that doesn’t include paying obscene rates to book publishers at all.
It’s a shame that publishers always seem to take this approach. All I can hope is that the few successful authors out there realize that the ride isn’t going to last much longer. I don’t begrudge any writer accepting a big contract from a publisher… but I hope they’ve been saving up for the coming rainy day.