The Demise of Traditional Publishing? Or: Is the World Coming to an End?

Well, it looks like we escaped the rapture. That would be a tragedy; just think of how that might reduce the audience of potential book buyers. Okay, maybe not by much. But after reading several items over the past few weeks (and getting a little query weary -- more on that soon), I'm starting to wonder if the world of traditional publishing is heading for the cliff. Here's the evidence that indeed it might be:

1. Amazon just announced that its eBook sales now surpass all print book sales: For every 100 print books sold, Amazon sells 105 eBooks

2. Over at the Passive Voice blog (, the Passive Guy posted a detailed analysis of the breakdown of royalties an author may receive from traditionally published books and eBooks: Take a look, and then you do the math.

3. The eReport published an article this winter highlighting the precipitous decline of print sales, nearly 25% in all trade categories combined. At the same time, eBooks have exploded by over 200%. For the discouraging (or encouraging, depending on your point of view) rundown, check out the article:

4. Now famous (if he wasn't before) Barry Eisler just turned down a $500,000 deal with a traditional publisher to sing along with Fleetwood Mac and go his own way. And the blogosphere is on fire: and

5. Agent Ted Weinstein expressed his concern to the Wall Street Journal that the traditional roles of agents and publishers are shifting: “When you have widespread electronic distribution of books, whether e-books or print-on-demand, all of the barriers of entry disappear,” said Ted Weinstein, a San Francisco literary agent. WSJ likens the change to a seismic shift.

It's enough to give an aspiring author much to think about. Go Indie? Keep querying? Will the traditional book world and its gatekeepers be rendered irrelevant players in a brave new world of literary democracy? Or does this landslide threaten to break down the floodgates and deluge us all in a torrent of mediocre offerings?


  1. Hey Callie, I wanted to let you know that I awarded you the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award. You can find out about it here:
    Congrats! :D

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