His trial is over, and as he awaits the verdict, Howard Rotberg has some thoughts on blogging, media monopolies and the future of publishing:
So, taking a look at the figures for the first month of my blog, I see it attracted some 5200 views by some 3000 separate viewers. Thanks to the fellow bloggers who covered my story and linked to my blog. The most referrals came from Kathy Shaidle’s Five Feet of Fury. Thanks, Kathy.
Accordingly, while I was engaged in a four year long battle with Chapters over their virtual “banning” of my book, which, had they not banned, would have sold in the range of 5000 books maximum, I now realize that a good blogger attracts that many readers in one month!
So, the power of Chapters, which controls over 70% of the retail book market in Canada is starting to slip because fewer and fewer people will trust the folks at Chapters to stock what is important, and instead insist that the reader make the decision of what information and viewpoints should be accessed.
As Chapters morphs more into a retailer of gift items and CDs, and more people shop for books on-line, there is a question of the future relevance, and even viability, of big box book retailers which are more interested in profits than books.
As I’ve told Howard, and others, there is nothing “magical” about having your book in Chapters. In fact, it can be a nightmare.
I worked in Canadian book publishing for years, and at least in those days, Chapters quite simply did not pay their bills. You’d normally wait half a year to get the money you were due for books they’d sold.
Everyone talked about that in whispers, which is the Canadian way, and the way of old fashioned book publishing — and then they whine (much louder) about why their industry is so boring and stagnant, can’t attract young employees (er, try paying people who live and work in downtown Toronto — one of the world’s most expensive cities — more than $30,000 a year), why their margins are only 2%.
Traditional book publishing is a mug’s game, an incestuous cesspool and a La Brea tar pit.
Look at the woman in charge. Would you hire her to sell your books if you had the choice? Chapters is her hobby farm. I too admire her support of Israeli soldiers, but lots of people support Israeli soldiers. That should be a given, not earn you a special pat on the head.