Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Looking back, looking forward

Well here it is 2013. We didn't blow ourselves up (of course 2013 is still young, so there's always that possibility). But at least the Mayan Calendar Doomsayers will finally have to shut up. Unless they start claiming there was some catastrophic miscalculation (Like NASA's dropping a decimal point and blitzing a Mars landing project???).

As far as publishing goes, the big six (or is it five - four?) are still trying to hold onto their pants despite an insane run-in with the DoJ. (Summary: the Department of Justice had the silly audacity to pursue a lawsuit that essentially pats Amazon on the head with open approval for undercutting publisher suggested retail pricing and whups Apple for trying to set retail pricing per publisher standards.) While we don't believe in price gouging, we do believe that the government taking sides in an open market and helping an already overly powerful retailer (read that as mega-retailer Amazon) is just wrong. Amazon has an unabashed history of using questionable means to control publishers and pricing strictly to stage its own rise to power in ebook publishing as well as retail online selling. For the DoJ to openly approve of this and assist Amazon by interfering in the retail market is wrong in so many ways, it would take another whole blog post to go into. The DoJ simply has no business stepping in unless it is a clear violation of anti-trust laws. Gas stations price-fix every day, yet there's no DoJ presence to stop that. (OK, you try to explain the sudden jump in gas prices before every holiday, or whenever there's some 'incident' half way around the world. How does that affect the price of gas already in the station's storage tanks????)

For Penumbra Publishing, the year 2012 was a mixed bag. We got to publish a lot of great new authors, but like many publishers, we saw fewer overall sales than in 2011. It is sad to think 2011 was the 'boom' year for publishing. There is no reason to think that with a flood of new self-published books, sales for anyone will improve dramatically. The current 'twenties' generation is thoroughly entrenched in technological dependence. Minute-by-minute start-stop activities like texting, web surfing, and playing silly games to pass the time are easier than sitting down and concentrating to read a book. (What? You don't play 'Angry Birds'? What's wrong with you?) Children as young as three are being handed iPads by their parents as toys - pacifiers - so the behavioral trend becomes ingrained even earlier. Children are becoming amazingly computer-literate at very young ages, but this is not necessarily a good thing. These same children may depend on the calculator function of an electronic device to figure simple math without understanding how to do it 'by hand' or 'in their head.' And why is this bad? Electricity. Electricity has made it possible for us to change our environment, add comfort and ease to our lives, and perform a lot of tasks that might otherwise be more difficult. Electricity is a wonderful utility that we take for granted, but it is not immune to disruption. And total dependency on it creates a potentially bad situation. If we found ourselves suddenly without electricity for a long period of time, would we have a clue how to survive? Electricity has softened us and given us a false sense of superiority and security.

The future is always uncertain until it becomes the present, and speculations about what might happen can prove to be wildly wrong, but looking back at the past, it's fairly easy to see what has happened. (Not necessarily easy to explain why it happened, but oh well.) Instead of looking back and lamenting 'those were the good old days,' we're going to look ahead and brave a fearless smile with the determination to make the best of whatever the future holds for us. We hope you'll do the same. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

And here's author/blogger Charles O'Keefe's take on 2012...


  1. Hi Pat and everyone :)

    Yes there were some terrible things happen in 2012 but I think it's always best to look forward (while of course trying to learn from mistakes in the past). I'm not as up on the topic as you but certainly I agree the DoJ is being terribly bias and certainly giving Amazon an unfair advantage over other publishers/distributors.

    Like a lot of really huge companies/organization (like NRA or the Tobacco companies) it is unfortunate that they have made friends in high places which allows them to get away with/do many things that would otherwise be illegal or at least frowned on. Sadly I don't think anything will change with Amazon (or the other companies) until there has been enough media pressure/public outcry to warrant it. We're starting to see that with the first two, but certainly not with Amazon.

    Amazon is doing what most big companies want to do, crush the competition anyway they can. This isn't right but it is one of the things that can happen in a world where money is the key to power.

    Well enough doom and gloom, I wanted to thank Pat for a special mention I received on the website (I only just found it today) and I wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year =) I hope everyone has a great fresh start and maybe keeps a couple of resolutions (if you're into that). Have a great weekend everyone, oh and if you haven't seen "The Hobbit" you should! What a great movie! :-)

  2. Oh and gas pricing is a total joke, the oil companies do whatever they want and governments goes along with it. It's one of the reasons I'm getting an electric car, hopefully by 2014 or sooner =)

  3. When the Zombie Apocalypse hits in late 2013, you will all lose your electricity, and be left with nothing but Kindles to entertain yourselves. Of course Amazon will be wrongfully blamed. It's all Barnes and Noble's fault. Those Nooks are everywhere.


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