Kassia Krozser, one of the principals of now-defunct Quartet Press, has a post up about how she spent her summer:
Here are some pain points to consider as you try to build a digital publishing business — this is an incomplete list, of course: ISBN madness (really, one ISBN for every format? the mind continues to boggle) and alternate product identifiers; formats, formats everywhere and not a hint of resolution; third party distributors, or, how do you get your books to retailers in the most efficient manner?; customer service (see: formats, devices, and all-around confusion); the challenges of getting your book to show up in retail outlets before release, particularly when you don’t have a corresponding print product; the imposition of DRM despite your stated preferences (really, who are the retailers protecting when they force DRM on the publisher?); pricing and consumer savvy.
As I said in my earlier note, I think being a third-party player (publisher) in the content-delivery business these days must be a nightmare. I also think this is exactly right:
So it’s easier to start from the bottom, figure out what it’s going to cost, and then build the model.
If the new publishing relationship is a direct connection from content creator to content consumer — and it is — then every additional layer added to that process is going to have to pay for itself. And the only way you can figure out how to do that profitably is to start with the absolute minimum cost to do X at quality Y and go from there.
Nothing else makes sense. Nothing else will work.
Read the whole post.
— Mark Barrett