An original piece in Publisher’s Weekly revealed that more and more traditional publishers are trying out the ever-growing publishing tactic of digital only books, or at least digital first. Over a year ago, traditional publishers like Harlequin made headlines and raised eyebrows by announcing the formation of imprints within their publishing houses that were dedicated to ebook-only works; the benefit to these imprints was twofold. Readers got access to new content immediately, and authors didn’t have the year-long or more wait to see their works hit the market. To take it a step further, publishers like Harlequin’s Carina Press began offering unheard of royalties to authors who opted to forgo the advance in return for as much as 70% royalties on their ebooks.
Now, more publishers are throwing their hats in the digital ring. Penguin, Kennsington, Random House, F+W Media, and HarperCollins are all working on the full launch or the focused revival of digital imprints, as well as incorporating other imprints into their brand. Short-form fiction publication is also growing in popularity, and again those are strictly digital works.
“While the publishers see the digital imprints as a way to publish new authors as well as to bring back once popular titles that have gone out of print, they insisted that they are publishing titles in the digital imprints with the same energy as titles in traditional imprints. ‘This is not a junior imprint,’ said Lucia Macro, who manages Impulse at HC, to the PW staffers. ‘The same teams that work on print titles work on Impulse.’ That includes the rights department; Avon has sold print and digital rights for He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, plus a second title by Impulse debut author Lena Diaz to Germany. Approximately 80% of Impulse’s titles are original e-books, and the goal, as the imprint moves to embrace Voyager science fiction/fantasy and a variety of Morrow areas, is to keep the majority of titles e-originals, Macro said. The first Voyager title, The Asylum Interviews: Bronx, has just been released.”
The writers at PW made the point that these initiatives in no way diminish the focus on print publishing from any of the imprints, but as more and more publishers work in prioritizing ebooks, the volume of content available to readers in a more timely way will increase.