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What Publishing Mergers Mean to Authors: News from BEA

In a lead up to this year’s BookExpo America, held at the end of May in New York, Publishers Launch BEA presented a full-day session to address practical and strategic issues for companies in the industry. The theme was scale, and one of the big topics was mergers in the publishing industry: Amazon bought GoodReads and is becoming a publisher in a more traditional sense (who knows who they’ll buy next). Random House and Penguin are merging. As an author, you’re probably aware of the trend toward giants becoming behemoths. But what does that mean to you? Kimberly Lew, writing for Publishing Trends, captured one somber line of reasoning in her recap:

As Brian DeFiore of DeFiore and Company pointed out, “A mega-company needs mega-authors to survive,” meaning that agents “need major clients more than ever.” Robert Gottlieb of Trident Media agreed, talking about how consolidation will possibly mean bigger incentives for bestselling authors, but may make it even harder for mid-list authors who are struggling; agents might be less inclined to stay with clients through rough times.

Yet there was also discussion of the potential for Random House/Penguin to balance out the ever increasing power that Amazon holds in the industry. It’s never good for producers or consumers of content when one company dictates the nature of their interactions, and that’s what Amazon has been increasingly able to do.

The great news is that for all those “mid-list” authors out there, selling your content to consumers is becoming easier by the day. In fact, six independent bestselling authors joined forces and had their own booth at BEA, reminding everybody that publishing is still about one thing: the relationship between writers and readers. And if they understand how to leverage it, writers can still hold the power.


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