Book Expo in a Shifting Publishing Era

news, industry newsBook Expo America, the biggest publishing-industry convention in the United States, runs this week in New York from Wednesday, May 27, through Friday, May 29. It’s changing to reflect a rapidly changing industry.

The biggest change, of course, is self-publishing, which is making tremendous headway against the winds of traditionally published e-books. Since the long negotiation with Hachette Book Group last year, Amazon no longer discounts e-books from certain publishers – these publishers set their own prices. Amazon alerts buyers to this by saying, next to the cost of the e-book: price set by publisher. And those prices are much, much higher than what most readers of e-books are willing to pay: $15 or so as opposed to $5 to $10.

According to the latest report from Author Earnings, which tracks sales of both independently published e-books and those published by traditional publishers, “the average price of an e-book from a Big 5 publisher has gone up 17%… Over the same period, daily unit sales from the Big 5 have fallen 17%.” The report goes on to say, “Big Five publisher e-book unit sales have fallen another 18%. Higher prices and a return to agency pricing seem to be seriously impacting sales. And self-published authors are moving into that lost market share, with an increase in daily revenue of 12.4% since January 2015.”

Which means that self-publishing is a growing force.

But publishing is still a big industry regardless, and Book Expo is doing its best to welcome all comers. It’s offering a special Saturday session for self-published authors, known as uPublish at BEA.

And it has special events for publishing start-ups, a wide swath of author and celebrity appearances, and countless seminars on all aspects of publishing.

I’ll report more on the conference as it goes on – and it will be interesting to see what the buzz is – on exciting new releases from traditional publishers (the new book by Harper Lee, a new novel by Jonathan Franzen) or the approach of further upheaval thanks to new technologies.

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