David Vinjamuri presents his view in the article How Hybrid Publishers Innovate To Succeed on Forbes. He introduces the rise of hybrid publishing, who is considered to be a combination of both traditional publishers and independent authors who are digitally skilled. It is a new and controversial model of publishing in the industry, but Vinjamuri outlines three characteristics of successful hybrid publishers, including offering small advances, operating on voluntary contributors, and speeding up on product development cycle. He concludes that “agility” is the biggest advantage of hybrid publishers in their competition with traditional publishing houses and self publishers.
I agree with Vinjamuri that a fast response to the market — sometimes achieved through the use of social media platforms — can often get you in the upper hand of sales, which is one of the biggest challenges for traditional publishers, who may get stuck in the slow motion of product development cycle and are considered ot be losing “coherent brand positioning with consumers”. While the traditional publishers enjoy prestige and the self-publishers enjoy freedom, hybrid publishers seem to face lots of obstacles in terms of long-term success, despite their increasing impact on the industry.
Among the discussions that my last post about hybrid publishing (Partnership Publishing: A ‘Third Way’？) has triggered in my LinkedIn connections, Jeremy Soldevilla, a hybrid publishing practitioner, argues that they do take up “all the other functions of a traditional publisher”, but unlike traditional publishers, hybrid publishers “are willing to take a chance on new authors whose books might not sell thousands of copies, but deserve to be published”. However, George Williams insightfully points out that we should look more closely at “the assertion that this company under spotlight is “modeled on a traditional press……. I came across the following gem on the company’s website: ‘only two things differentiate us from a traditional small press: the author pays, and we don’t have in-house publicists.’ Saying the only thing that makes this different from a traditional press is that the author pays is like me saying the only thing that makes me different from an MD is the fact that I never went to medical school.” Is hybrid/partnership publishing really a successful innovation, or has this “model” which makes its money not by selling books to readers but by charging fees to authors actually been around for years? And is it necessarily a bad thing for the entire publishing ecosystem?
Image Creidt: The Rabbit Books