Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Falling Over Like Flies

I admit I've been avoiding the subject of All Romance E-books/Omnilit over the last month. Mainly, I didn't feel like stirring the pot over a bunch of allegations. I hate to tell folks, but I've seen this before, and I can pretty much guarantee that the money is gone.

I don't mean the owner of ARe stuffed it in an account in the Cayman Islands. I mean it's already been spent. Yes, it sucks dirty donkey dicks. And depending on the laws in various states, maybe, a very miniscule maybe, the legal team going after the owner might seize some personal property as recompense.

However, if you have money due from ARe and feel the need to do something, author Brenda Cothern's attorney has filed a class action suit. You might want to check into it.

Unfortunately, ARe wasn't the only small publisher (yes, they did publish books in addition to being a retailer) to crash and burn over the last month. I personally know of three small/micro publishers to close their doors.

A lot of indie writers are complaining that sales are down, but I really have no anecdotal data to share. I published two novels and an anthology of my own stories, plus had a short in a trad published anthology, over the last seven months after a three-year drought. So, yes, my sales may be down, but probably not for the same reason as everyone else.

Is this all bad? A symptom of something worse happening?

My opinion is we're looking at a market correction. Several companies jumped into e-book publishing and/or retailing under capitalized. It happens all the time when a new market opens up. These companies hit the gold rush period, much as Ellora's Cave did with the erotica market, and their business plans did not take into account the periodic ups and downs of a business. And just like any other business, there had to be a dip in sales after the first surge of e-books.

Think of a brand new business as a rock. When you drop it in a pond, there's a big splash. When that splash lands back in the pond, it sets off a series of ripples. Each ripple becomes successively smaller until the pond's surface is level again.

We're at the point of the indie rock where the splash has landed back in the pond. Over the next few months, we'll see a few less sales, a few more writers quit, a few more small/micro publishers close. Then the next ripple will pick things up, but the rise won't be anywhere near as high as the initial splash.

Since the publishing world moves at the speed of Warp Tortoise, the ripples will probably continue for the next decade or two before the publishing pond stills again.

Then the next rock will hit. And only the deity of your choice will know what that will be.


  1. Yep. And the indie publishing community is incredibly lucky that it was ARe/Omnilit going down, and not someone much bigger. Anyone who doesn't believe it coul happen to, say, Amazon some time, is probably too young to remember Borland, or Broderbund, or to remember when Sears and IBM were huge, industry-dominating giants.

    Stuff like this is going to happen. The recent rocks, including ARe and my own romance publisher, were actually tiny pebbles. It sucks, but could've been SO much worse.


    1. Yep, things have come full circle in retail. I grew up in a tiny Ohio farming community. Sears was the Amazon of its time. My grandparents talked about ordering seeds and plows from Sears. My mom ordered our school clothes from them. But Sears made their missteps, and eventually Amazon will too.