Publishing in Disarray - No!?

12 June 2009 in Future of Publishing

Conversation yesterday with my agent, Rachel Calder, where, as is inevitable these days, we got onto the subject of how the book trade is in the process of eating itself. Rachel told me about how W H Smith, which now has an monopoly on all bookshops in UK airports, has done a deal with Penguin UK, and will now sell only Penguin travel titles in their shops in airports and train stations (where they also have a virtual monopoly).  It’s an extraordinary deal for Penguin, though only achieved after agreeing to give W H Smith a 70%+ discount on all their books.

Why doesn’t Smith’s care about giving their customers a range of titles?  Why does Penguin think it is a good idea to exchange exclusivity for a huge whack of their profits - doubtless this deep discounting will find its way back to what Penguin writers are paid for their work. How are all the travel writers who write for other publishers supposed to make a living?

Here’s an interesting update from the Bookseller on steps being taken by the Society of Authors and the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild (hey - I want to be an Outdoor Writer - if only it didn’t rain all the time) to make writers’ protests to this deal heard.  I was led to this article via a @Bookseller tweet.


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