The Transformation Of The Book

- by Vonna Harper

Deb Werksman,

Editorial Manager, Sourcebooks

As technology surges forward, it’s a time of great excitement and of great trepidation for authors. On the one hand, reader favorites that have been long out of print can now be brought back and produce a new income stream. On the other hand, with over 1 million (yes, that’s ONE MILLION) new books published last year, calling the marketplace “overcrowded” has become an understatement.

Some authors are choosing options that bypass a publisher altogether, and if the author has a ready made channel for reaching his/her readership, and a readership big enough, this can be quite viable. For authors who want or need marketing support (and that includes positioning, cover design, distribution, in-store promotions, Advance Reading Copies, and myriad other efforts) it is still a publisher’s job (which we take very seriously) to connect books with readers.

In addition to the self-publishing option, and the traditional publisher model, there are now digital-first publishers as well, who offer no advances, and varying levels of higher net royalties, so authors can still expect to be paid by their readers, which is how it’s always properly been.

As the industry reinvents itself to accommodate the proliferation of this new format (the ebook) royalty rates and suggested digital retail prices have been trying to find their proper level. The myth that ebooks cost less than printed books to produce is finally beginning to be busted. If you want a cover, if you want an internal layout, if you want editing, those things still carry very real costs. And, as it turns out, there’s no standard format, so every device requires its own file, and its own quality assurance.

Here is a link to an article written by our CEO/Publisher and published in RWR about the implications of the added steps to the process necessitated by publishing in ebook formats:

As you can see, it’s an exciting time to be in this business, and innovation is absolutely key. Our current solution to what authors need in the romance category is as follows:

1) we’re publishing new books in print formats (mass market original) and ebook formats for all platforms, releasing at the same time at the same suggested retail price

2) our Casablanca Classics line releases classic backlist books in trade paper format with distribution to the trade and the mass market accounts, and ebook formats for all platforms at the same time

Every day the environment is changing–new devices are coming on the market, new models are being tried. We’re working hard to be at the forefront of this transformation so the publishing community has some say in how this goes–we’re reluctant to let the technology community determine our future. So keep choose your best options for today, and stay tuned!

If you want to ask me any questions about your particular situation, don’t hesitate to email me directly at


  1. Deb emailed me to let folks know she’s at an all day meeting in Naperville (where’s that?) and might not be able to log on. Does that mean we can talk about her behind her back?
    Seriously, I was delighted when Deb offered to do this blog without any nagging on my part.

  2. Interesting article, Deb. Have you thought of – or heard of any publisher considering – going into partnership with an author with backlist books that readers still clamour for?

    It seems to me there’s a gap in the market of interest to us published folk with established readerships.

  3. Good question, Anna. With more and more of us established writers, getting our rights back, we’re trying to think beyond the box. Deb, any comments?