• Cheyenne Saturday - Richard Jessup
  • The Bloody Medallion - Richard Jessup writing as Richard Telfair
  • Chuka - Richard Jessup
  • The Cincinnati Kid - Richard Jessup
  • The Branch Will Not Break - James Wright
  • Roadmap Through Bullying: Effective Bully Prevention for Educators - Julie Nicolai
  • The Definitive Brother Juniper - Father Justin 'Fred' McCarthy
  • Portrait of an Artist with 26 Horses: Empty-Grave Vanilla Edition - William Eastlake
  • The Tales of Yot - Adam Nicolai
  • The Shaggy Man of Oz - Jack Snow
  • The Magical Mimics in Oz - Jack Snow
  • The Silver Princess in Oz - Ruth Plumly Thompson
  • Armchair Locomotion - Jen May
  • Grin and Bear It - George Lichty
  • The Strange World of Mr. Mum - Irving Phillips
  • Brother Juniper - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • Brother Juniper at Work and Play - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • Brother Juniper Strikes Again - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • Battle Cry - Jen May
  • Inside Brother Juniper - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • More Brother Juniper - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • Well Done, Brother Juniper - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • The Whimsical World of Brother Juniper - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • The Ecumenical Brother Juniper - Fr Justin McCarthy

Why the Big-Name Publishing Houses Totally Suck

by Nicolai on April 2, 2012

Random House, Simon and Schuster, Penguin Group, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group—yes—I’m talking to you.

You suck!

And I don’t mean you “suck” in the lazy, teenage, use-whatever-word-pops-in-my-head sort of way. I’m being writerly—metaphorical. You are leeches—mosquitoes—bloated, clinging tics.

I’ve had my Kindle for a little over a year and I’m growing tired of being milked and bilked every time I want to read something created by writers unfortunate enough to have jumped in bed with you.

I popped my eBook cherry with a Hiaasen book published by Penguin. I paid $14.99 for Tourist Season—a 25-year-old novel that had already made all the cash the publishing house thought it would ever make. I could have purchased a brand new paperback for $7.99 at that time but I wanted to try out the whole eBook thing for myself so I bit the bullet. What Penguin sold me was essentially the same quality as if I had given the 1986 paperback to a high school keyboarding class, stuffed the files together, and immediately posted it as an eBook for sale. Why bother even running a spell-check, right? You probably figured that readers would have no problem getting the meaning “squirrel” from the typed word “sqv1m3I.” And no, I’m not exaggerating. I figured Penguin had probably improved in the last year so I looked up Tourist Season again. Big discounts in the eBook department—$14.99 down to $12.99. Brand new paperbacks dropped from $7.99 to $6.00. Penguin, you suck.

I’ve been watching and loving the first season of The Game of Thrones. I decided I’d like to read the Song of Ice and Fire four-book set it is based on. How convenient—Random House packaged the four books together for me for the low, low price of $29.99 on the Kindle. How much is the paperback collector’s set you ask? $21.00. If I bought the set, which I’m not, I would be paying $8 for the added bonus of having nothing to hold, display on the bookshelf, or give to a friend. I could buy the first season of the HBO show on DVD for $33.99. I could buy that season in HD digital format for $28.99. But hey, it’s worth that extra buck to get a whole bunch of words, eh?

The not-so-funny thing about Random House’s product is that, judging by the Amazon reviews, the quality of the publishing sucks just as much as the publisher. People are saying the paperback books are falling apart in their hands, that there are 100-page chunks missing, duplicated sections to compensate for the missing ones, and the cutting of the pages is so poor that sometimes entire chapters have the bottom line of text missing. The eBook customers say that the layout is awful and lacks even some of the most basic features of a Kindle eBook—like a logical, functional table of contents. They are saying that the eBook treats the four separate books as one single book and that you can’t choose to start reading at book two, three, or four without scrolling through the previous books. Publishing botched by another price-gouging publisher? Random House, you suck.

Big publishers, let me give you a bit of advice. If you want to be around in ten years you best stop sucking. Let me remind you of “your place” as well. You didn’t create the content. You theoretically cleaned it up, printed, and marketed it. With eBooks we can eliminate the cleaning up and printing. For digitized, older paperbacks we can eliminate the marketing. Amazon’s back-end systems, reviewers, and dedicated customer-base do a better job than you ever could anyway. So what does that leave us? That’s right. Nothing. Well—maybe there’s a little something. You set the price, monopolize on copyrights, and excel at behind-the-scenes scheming. And, of course, you suck.

Big publishers, there are lots of great things that suck—cute infants—fuzzy kittens at the tit—but those great things have value-add. Cats will purr in our laps and babies will grow up and mow the lawn. What value-add do parasites have though? Not much. That’s why they get swatted, smeared, and popped. You best hop to it, big publishers. The shadow of the hand is upon you.

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