Monday musings on Australian literature: Bookseller turns publisher

Book Stack

Books anyone? (Courtesy: OCAL, from clker.com)

Bookseller-as-publisher (and vice versa) is not an original idea but, in our digital environment with its plethora of production and distribution technologies, this combination clearly offers new possibilities – one that the Australian bookchain, Dymocks, has announced it is going to try. Its aim? To “support Australians with stories to tell” … and, of course, “grow the book industry”.

Dymocks is calling its new publishing arm D Publishing. (Original eh?) Chief executive Don Grover said they do not see it

as building an operation to compete with standard publishers, and he said the systems and service it offered would separate it from other self-publishing companies.

These services include “editing, design, production and printing of finished books”. It’s not, in other words, big-end-of-town publishing, nor is it exactly self-publishing, but something in between …

The service is expected to start in October. According to the news report in Bookseller and Publisher, it is web-based and will work like this. Writers will:

  • upload their manuscript online
  • choose features for their book, including cover design, editing and typesetting
  • decide how to publish: print version using a print-on-demand option and/or e-book

It’s not clear how much input there’ll be from experts in, for example, this editing and design aspect. And there is a bit of a catch. Distribution. Grover does not guarantee that books published through this arm will be sold by Dymocks, and sees it all still as a bit of a work in progress:

It’s something that will evolve over time [and] will start as a tool for people who have a story to tell. As far as distribution is concerned we will wait to see what the market brings forward.

So, what say you? It all depends on the economics, of course, but I can see possibilities for local authors publishing local histories for their communities, family historians producing family histories, schools and local writers’ groups producing collections of writing … as well as of course the novelist or poet (or other writer) trying to break into the market. It sounds exciting but history tells us that it’s not that easy. To what extent will this new model with its more immediate technology make the whole business of getting your story out there easier? Time will, I suppose, tell.

For more on this, read blogger Megan Burke who got to talk to Grover and ask him some questions.

10 thoughts on “Monday musings on Australian literature: Bookseller turns publisher

  1. Very, very interesting… except for the name. What an horrifically unimaginative name! One is tempted to make a joke about public servants and their stellar naming abilities… 😉

  2. Sounds like self-publishing to me. Although many companies dress it up but it boils down to the same thing. I can see its uses (the family history you mention), but the problem is that there are so many companies out there now, it’s not always easy to differeniate the books people are paid to write from the others. Amazon shill reviews blur the lines.

    A few years ago I bought a book on amazon that had these rave reviews. The book was essentially some silly romance that I would never have bought if it had been described properly and reviewed properly. Then I went back and looked at the 5 star reviews all written as a sole review by these so-called new reviewers. The internet doesn’t exactly level the playing field for the self-published but it does offer a new venue. This particular book was published by the author’s own publishing company which produced his sole work.

    I’ve read one excellent self-published book, and I have no problem with the concept–except I want to know if the book has been self-published or not. I’ve read so much rubbish from both sides of the fence, but one hopes the non-self-published have at least had the benefit of an editor.

    That said, some big name publishers have their own shill crews, so the self-published are not the only ones.

    • It does sound a bit like that I agree … It will be interesting to see how it pans out. As you say, commercial publishing doesn’t guarantee quality but it provides some sense of assessment having been done. A D Publishing imprint probably won’t tell us much at all but still … It’s an interesting project. As for Amazon reviews. I usually just look for the Publlisher’s Weekly excerpt and ignore the rest. Would rather find a trusted blogger!

  3. How is that not self-publishing? I am a bit confused I think but maybe its baby brain. So, you can turn your writing into a book through Dymocks (aka D publishing) and then what? They won’t sell it for you – you have to figure that part out. Isn’t that self-publishing?

    • Good question … but what they say is they don’t “guarantee” selling in their shops all books published this way which could mean they’ll sell some! Some of the details seem hazy. I think they are talking self-publishing to a large degree but they are also targeting they say small publishers. I’m not sure how that works? A small publisher uses D Publishing to publish the books they would have published? That sounds a bit like adding another layer. But, I guess it’s early days and we’ll just have to wait to see how it all falls out.

  4. I’m all for new avenues for book publication but I am always cautious when it comes to self-publishing because I don’t feel like I can be confident in the quality of what I am getting. Not that books published through traditional channels aren’t often bad too, but at least there was a process they had to go through. I wonder if this particular publisher is thinking this might be a cheap way it might find good, new voices? Call me cynical 😉

    • I will! Actually, I think it’s sensible to be a bit cynical. After all, they wouldn’t be doing it if they didn’t think they could make money. But, presumably they’ll only make money if they meet a need and publishing poor stuff (arguably) won’t meet a need?!

  5. Sounds like a good idea for local books that might not warrant atheist cost of bulk printing , I like that print on demand slowly growing be great to get out of print translations for my self at some point in the future all the best stu

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