In a blend of savvy commercial sense and forward-thinking strategy, HarperCollins is launching a book division that won’t pay advances to authors, won’t pay “bricks” stores a premium for upfront retail space, and won’t accept returns. Instead, it will focus on the Internet as its main sales channel.
The imprint will emphasize alternative books by known authors or new books by up-and-coming authors. It will publish approximately 25 titles per year, mostly shorter hardcover volumes.
This is a sensible experiment for a publisher, in my view, although others disagree (see Related articles, below). The approach emphasizes cash flow, recognizes that book sales of a certain volume and type are driven by the Internet (a “long tail” strategy), and thoughtfully avoids some pitfalls of business as usual.