USA Law Librarian Blog Article: Publishing Suicide: Another Possible Merger in the General Trade Publishing Industry
Publishing Suicide: Another Possible Merger in the General Trade Publishing Industry writes Joe Hodnicki
…… another dose of reality for the legal publishing houses
First came the Random House and Penguin Group merger which together will have a combined 28-30% share of the US market if it passes regulatory scrutiny. Now rumors are flying that News Corp, owner of HarperCollins Publishers, is interested in acquiring Simon & Schuster from CBS Corp. Reportedly in preliminary talks, if the deal is concluded, the combined HarperCollins-Simon & Schuster would account for an 18-20% US market share, making it the second largest publisher in the US. For details, see Christopher S. Stewart and John Jannarone’s WSJ report, News Corp. Eyes Book Publisher.
The coming consolidation in the the general trade publishing industry has even caught the attention in the law prof blogosphere. On Concurring Opinions, Lawrence
Cunningham writes in Suicide in American Trade Publishing:
The slow death of big-time American trade publishing is becoming rapidly more imminent, suggests the Random House-Penguin merger of desperation. Technology is only an accomplice, after the fact, to this fate. The real cause is suicide.
The big publishing houses do precious little to add value to the products they distribute. Except for a handful of editors within a few houses, authors and their own teams of privately-hired agents and editors do all the real work in manuscript writing, editing and rewriting ? and marketing.
At many publishing houses, editors do not even read manuscripts, other than acquisition editors giving a skim to verify acceptability and young copy editors going over them for minor quibbles about punctuation and hyphenation.
Ah, OK. Like the above editorial practices aren’t already common in the legal publishing cartel. Law librarians have known this for years but it only appeared in the sunlight two years ago
Raising the Bar for “Publisher’s Staff” Content After Rudovsky? On some really bad decisions made by West and its many and varied consequences for not being “proud” of publishing a “sham” pocket part (Dec. 22, 2010)
The Rudovsky Case and Quality Control (April 21, 2011)
A Bit More On The Rudovsky Case (Sept. 23, 2011)
Whatever Happened To The Rudovsky Case? (Nov. 21, 2012)
True, publishes create a dust jacket, but though that often takes some skill and a bit of imagination, many covers could be done by any modestly capable graphic designer. Some covers come out with ad copy that suggests that the copy writer, much like her colleagues in editing, didn?t actually read the book. For non-fiction, publishers even outsource the creation of indexes to freelancers.
Hell, legal publishers have standardized book covers. No additional skill or imagination required. Indexing leads to blind page cites. Even title pages oftentimes are not fact-checked for current authorship attributions. [JH]