Translating John Sargent

This post by J.A. Konrath originally appeared on his A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing blog on 12/19/14. Note that it contains strong language.

Often times it seems as if those who work in the legacy publishing world are so out of touch with authors that a translator is needed to explain the true meaning of what has been said.

Such is the case with John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan, in his recent public letter.

Sargent in crazy bold italics, the translation in common-sense normal font.

Dear Authors, Illustrators, and Agents,
There has been a lot of change in the e-book publishing world of late, so I thought it a good idea to update you on what is going on at Macmillan.

Translation: It will be easier to accept the bad news if I warn you first.

The largest single change happens today, December 18th. Today a portion of our agreement with the Department of Justice (called a consent decree) expires, and we will no longer be required to allow retailers to discount e-books.

Translation: Remember when we illegally colluded with other publishers to price-fix? We did that because we were worried that low-priced ebooks would harm our paper distribution oligopoly.

It doesn’t matter that we have a much higher profit margin on ebooks. It doesn’t matter that since forcing the agency model on Amazon, our authors made less money. What matters is that we foresaw a day where ebook sales surpassed paper sales, and we knew that would put us out of business because savvy authors wouldn’t need our value-added publishing services anymore.

Happily, Amazon won’t be able to discount our ebooks anymore, so we can charge high prices and protect the interests of our business and of the cartel at the expense of your financial situation.

Unless you’re one of the huge bestsellers we publish. Those huge bestsellers sell a shit-ton of paper books. Under this model, they’ll continue to get richer.

 

Read the full post on A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing.

 

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