Small independent publishers, without the means to outsource large print runs to cheap overseas printers, are being priced out of the market and may have to concentrate on ebooks, limiting readers’ choice of format
Elsewhen Press is a publishing house specialising in high quality, entertaining and thoughtful speculative fiction from talented authors, many of whom are debut authors. Like most small presses in genre fiction, one of the ways that Elsewhen Press tries to keep in touch with the readers of their books is by attending science fiction and fantasy conventions, especially fan-run conventions. During the pandemic this was difficult, many conventions were postponed or became virtual. Over the last year or so it has been slowly getting back to ‘normal’ and conventions are once again happening. Over the final weekend of May, Elsewhen Press will be at the Satellite 8 science fiction convention in Glasgow, once more enjoying the opportunity to meet and talk with readers. We are delighted to be able to take part in panels, including a session on Saturday afternoon where a number of our Scottish authors – including David M. Allan, David Craig, Craig Meighan, Christopher G. Nuttall, and Douglas Thompson – will be reading from their new or forthcoming books.
One of the panels at the Satellite 8 convention, in which Elsewhen Press will be participating, is a discussion of how the escalating costs of printing, paper, shipping and storage over the last couple of years are impacting the ability of small and indie presses to continue to produce printed editions of their books at prices affordable by readers. While big publishers can still negotiate prices for large print-runs in cheap-labour overseas territories, indies are now largely constrained to use short-run and print-on-demand services which are significantly more expensive per copy, leading to increasing list prices for their books. With wholesale discounts of 55%, a 250 page paperback book, for example, which may cost £4.30 to print-on-demand, with a list price of £10 would only provide the publisher and the author with a royalty of a few pence each; a 520 page book may cost over £7 to print-on-demand, requiring a list price of at least £16 just to cover printing costs. As all the costs increase, the viability of printing such long books begins to be questionable; indeed, some presses are already reducing the upper limit for the manuscript word-count they will accept, and some have started to concentrate more on publishing novellas. Up to now, the debate around ebooks versus print books has largely centred on readers’ personal preference and convenience, but now the rising prices resulting from increased costs may be the deciding factor not just for readers, but also for publishers to decide in which medium they publish a new title.
We will also be selling copies of our recently published books at Satellite 8, and this will be the first opportunity for readers to buy paperback copies of our two newest titles: Renegade by Miles Nelson which is officially published on May 29th; and The Last Star by Terry Grimwood, although it is not officially published until the 5th of June we will have copies available for sale on our table in the dealers’ room.
Satellite 8, the science fiction convention, is taking place at the Crowne Plaza hotel, next to the SEC Armadillo, in Glasgow from Friday 26th May until Sunday 28th May.
Image by jcomp on Freepik