Is Publishing Dead? Wubbit’s Founder Says No

Authors assume all the risk and reap virtually none of the rewards. The authors, those individuals who drive the publishing industry, suffer even greater losses than the publishing industry itself. Because of the current cost/reward structure, the authors are the last to get paid. And after the distributors and retailers get their cuts, there is little to nothing left over for them.

Consider this example from an author who recently contacted Loomer with her story. It’s one that rings true throughout the industry: Her book had a price of $14.95, a print-on-demand print cost of $10.75 (which reflects a 100 percent markup), and a retail commission of 55 percent of the book’s price or $8.22. Unbelievably, the author was losing $4.02 every time she sold a book—and that’s without shipping or publishing costs factored in. (Online publishing with print-on-demand usually costs between $1,500-2,500.)

“Authors must put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into the book writing process,” says Loomer. “It is time consuming and tedious, and they do it knowing they may never be fully compensated for the time they’ve put into their books. A business model where the primary contributor gets gypped every time is not a good business model. It is time for the publishing industry to acknowledge that.”

Retailers make the big bucks. The current business model is great for business…if you’re the retailer making a 55 percent commission (or selling at a 110 percent markup depending on how you look at it) and not bearing any of the cost to bring the book to market. In the current business model, the retailers hold the power. By selling through Wubbit, authors’ and publishers’ sales commissions are reduced by 20 percent, sending those dollars straight to their bottom line.

Current print-on-demand models gouge the customer. The solution to saving the publishing industry is a simple one: cost control. One area that is rife with cost-cutting opportunities is printing. Many smaller publishers have begun using print-on-demand to avoid having huge print runs of books that aren’t selling. Print-on-demand allows them to have much smaller print runs and print only books that they know they can sell, but smaller print runs mean increased printing costs per book.