Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Publishing Apocalypse

We’ve all heard about it. You know, that this is pretty much the end of the publishing world. That people are going to pour all those gorgeous paper books into one little Kindle, (which, hello, might malfunction at the beach and you could NEVER read in the bath.). That books are going to go MP3, someone’s going to start up literary Napster, and authors are going to be broke. I mean, the ones that aren’t already.

And that now that America is freaking out and going all Great Depression-y, publishers are no longer going to buy books. In fact, according to rumors, publishing is going to pretty much be SHUT DOWN until the banks stop failing and people stop flailing about and repeating all the same mistakes that caused the first GD in the first place. (Yeah, it has an acronym now.)

So, what do you guys think? Is this (Publishing) Apocalypse Now? Or business as usual?

12 comments:

ryan.gebhart said...

I think it's like anything: survival of the fittest. This is probably an event that will cull the weaker publishers from the pack; those that are poorly managed and financed, and aren't giving the readers what they really want.

Publishing life will continue on, like it always has, but it will probably look different after the storm.

Sage said...

I think if we are heading to a depression (or even if people think we are), people need escapism more than ever.

As for digital copies, even with Napster (when it was free), people were still buying CDs, artists were still making money. With the Kindle, people pay for the books, and the publishers don't have to spend money on ink or paper or delivery to get it to the bookstores and reader. So I think the profit is probably about the same there (if not more).

Daisy Whitney said...

Better watch out, soon we'll be carrying scales and blocks of gold and trading gold for eggs and bread...

AC said...

Much ado about nothing. Plus, I don't think ebooks are as close to becoming popular as we think they are. Maybe the Kindle is super popular in NYC or some other big cities, but it's going to take a while for a $359 ebook reader to look attractive to the rest of the country. Besides, don't we all need an escape from our country's problems? What better way than through a book?

Sage said...

I remember when I was living alone without a job and all my money was slipping away on rent/utilities/food. And then after I got a job, I was living paycheck to paycheck for a while. And I commented to a coworker that it was insane for me to buy as many books, cds, and DVDs as I did during this time. He said to me, "People will always find a way to justify paying for entertainment."

Chantal said...

we talk about this a lot in class (I'm a Publishing M.A student to those who don't know). I could possibly write an article about it for YAYA.

Carrie Harris said...

Of course the publishing business will keep changing, but I'm not sure that we're going to have the dramatic big craziness that some people seem to expect. Because what do most people say they love the most about buying a new book? The new book smell. So are they going to love the new Kindle smell now?

I'm half joking. But really, even if we move away from paper books, it will take a while, doncha think?

Trish Doller said...

I'm with Carrie on this. I don't think we'll ever fully move away from printed books. And even if the e-format becomes the norm, it could take decades for it to reach that point.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Do I think that eventually we'll see a lot more e-books? Absolutely. Do I think publishing is going to sit around and play solitaire on their iMacs until this happens? No. I personally think the one publisher guru who said that they thought publishers would start fighting harder for fewer, choicer books is a true one. Publishers want a sure thing now, and the pet projects will get put on the back burner. I expect quiet, lyrical pieces or niche books will be the ones to really feel the pinch until the economy comes back.

Shanta Everington said...

Hi there

I stumbled across your blog when generally faffing about online. I'm a YA author so thought I'd say hello! HELLO.

Anyway, call me old fashioned but I think books are here to stay. The smell of the page, the feel of the paper under your thumb, cosied up in bed or squashed under someone's armpit on the train. But then I swore that vinyl wasn't going anywhere.Maybe I'm just getting too old. ;)

Nancy said...

Kindle, kindle, and burn...

I've been reeling and feeling all bluesy from the publishing news myself. Met my agent in New York just a few weeks ago, and he said it was a super tough market out there.

But, I bet the pubs won't really shut down. After all, in bad economic times, it's the arts that keep us going, no?

Big Plain V said...

I was told that because of the economy, publishers are forming a certification group that will regulate writers and charge them for each query and submission. That true? You guys hear anything like that?