Through bestselling books like I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, many of you will be familiar with the self-proclaimed asshole Tucker Max. Less well known is Max’s commitment to blowing up the traditional publishing industry and replacing it with a business model in which authors get a significantly bigger piece of the pie. As he explained to me when he came into our San Francisco studio today, he has reversed the “crappy” business model of a 92.5/7.5% split on revenue between the publisher and author so that the author now gets almost 90% of a book’s revenue. The idea, he explained, is a hybrid model in which he continues to use traditional publishers for distribution (“all they are good” for according to him) but does everything else – from marketing to design to editing – himself. This is, in fact, the model that he is using for his latest book, Hilarity Ensues, which comes out in paperback today.
While Max’s writing isn’t exactly Shakespeare, his views on the general irrelevance of big publishers are highly sophisticated. Indeed, this hybrid digital model represents the most viable way for high profile artists like Max to effectively distribute their books (or music or movies) and maintain most of the profit. Record labels, publishers and movie studios better wake up to this model if they are to have any relevance at all in the digital age. Otherwise it’s going to be next gen entrepreneurial talent like Tucker Max who will prove that assholes really do finish first.