Penguin CEO Sees Bright Future For Publishing

And thus presumably a bright future for all who work in it.

In a wide-ranging interview in today’s Wall Street Journal, Penguin CEO John Makinson discusses books versus Kindles and why they both have a place in the market.

“I looked the other day into the sales of public-domain classics in 2009, when all those books were available for free. What I found was that our sales had risen by 30% that year. The reason is that we were starting to sell hardcover editions—more expensive editions—that people were prepared to pay for. There will always be a market for physical books, just as I think there will always be bookstores,” he said.

Interestingly, Makinson says that Penguin should be selling some books digitally at the $2 price point, which would seem to be a direct competitor to self-publishers like Amanda Hocking (who has since signed a deal with a traditional publisher). “This is a new market that can’t exist economically in print. You can’t manufacture, ship and store a book at those prices. But we as publishers probably need to participate.

“We’ll look at new content that maybe we can popularize in different ways. We’ll also look at our backlist. Maybe there are customers for westerns at $1.99. What we need to be really careful of is ensuring that this new market doesn’t compromise the sales of Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy, Patricia Cornwell and Ken Follett.”

Okay, so unless your name is Ken Follett, your job is probably secure. And if your name is Ken Follett, you’re still probably fine.