My interview with Gavin Grant of Small Beer Press has proved one of the most popular at this site; I get hits for it pretty much daily. Grant was kind enough to do a second interview to update changes that are occurring in the industry.
1. Since we did our first interview, what are the most significant changes that you’ve seen in the publishing industry?
I suppose the general worry that the somewhat comfy industry we were all used to is changing into something much more cut-throat and much less fun. No one is quite sure where we are on the latest publishing cycle, is this as low at it gets, or will it get worse? Will there be a boom in new bookstores to replace Borders?
Ten years ago when we started publishing books, publishing my partner, Kelly Link, was seen as a bit iffy. Now no one blinks (once, never mind twice) when an author announces she is going to publish herself. There’s good and bad to that. Selling books is hard (it makes publishing books look easy) but self publishers have always had to get their books edited, copyedited, proofed, distributed, and promoted, so as long as they are doing that, more power to them. I think, as a publisher and a writer, that publishers still add value as they have a lot of skills, education, and human and actual capital in one place. Will it be the same in five years? Who knows.
2. Over the past five years, e-publishing has increased its market share and become fashionable. However, in terms of your own publishing experience, just how big a part of the market is it?
It depends on the book. A book can be selling as usual (print outselling ebook) and then a big review comes out and suddenly ebook sales are the same as print, at least in the short term.
3. Do you think the e-book can in fact replace the print book?
Not for everyone and not for every instance. There are still readers who prefer print books, going to bookshops—and supporting them to make sure that they are still around to shop at in the future.
Also, not until DRM-free and cross platform files are embraced by the industry.
4. How much potential do you think print-on-demand has?
One copy at a time print on demand is useful but the unit cost is expensive.
5. What new projects are you working on?
We have a few interesting things planned for this year and the next. We have a dark literary fantasy debut, A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar, that I expect will be huge. Kij Johnson’s collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees, is hot—she is hitting every award ballot there is these days.
Outside of Small Beer, my wife, Kelly Link, is nearly finished a new collection of stories so it will be fun to either work on that or send it out, we’ll see. We also just sold a second YA anthology, Monstrous Affections, to Candlewick (the first one was Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories).
We’re also expanding Weightlessbooks.com, our indie DRM-free ebooksite. We recently added Locus Magazine, which was a big hit, and Tachyon Publications. One of the reasons we started the site last year was so that if any other ebooksite decided to stop selling our books they would still be available there. (Recent events have proved how important it is not to rely on just one sales channel.)