Either way, Penguin and Random House have made the decision to join forces to become, drumroll please… Penguin Random House. Pretty creative, right?
Yeah, I’m a little disappointed in the name. I was pulling for Penguin House, but what can I say? It’s not like they’re good with words or anything…
The goal of this alliance (some might call it an unholy alliance) is to gain a leverage in negotiations with Amazon, build their ebooks business, and to minimize the costs of their physical book operation through consolidation (read: downsizing): Printing, warehouses, shipping, etc.
As the ebook market explodes — it doubled last year, according to the WSJ — most of the major publishers have been slow to embrace what should be a windfall. Because digital publishing IS lucrative, just ask Amazon… or E. L. James.
ePublishing not only makes sense from a technology standpoint, but from a cost/benefit perspective as well. Sure, printing and transporting paper books has obvious costs built-in, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that publishers often have to buy back the unsold books left at bookstores!!
So you might expect that publishers would embrace a format that reduces the cost of bringing a book to market… and reduces the risk of returns. Instead, they fought it.
Sadly, it’s all too reminiscent of the music industry’s begrudging reaction to digital. A decade later, the music publishing business is just starting to get back on its feet.
Hopefully, the ePub revolution will lead to a renaissance for up-and-coming authors, not the dark ages. I did notice that there was no mention of self-publishing in the WSJ piece.