Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Physical book sales down the toilet - Who is to blame?
The author of the piece states - "Flooding the market with books doesn't work, because books aren't like shoes or groceries. Readers don't demand choice as much as they demand quality. Fewer books, rigorously edited and thoughtfully published, would have better served both readers and writers." He then goes onto claim that, "Borders owes publishers vast amounts for such books, which it bought but then could not itself sell: $41 million to Penguin and $33.8 million to Simon & Schuster. Should they remain unpaid, every editor, author and agent in America will feel the pain."
The article seems rather hard to me but I feel some of the points have a certain merit - I have suspected for a long long time that books were being tailored to market trends, or at least what were perceived as market trends. I've long bemoaned the fact that there seems to be a uniform size for books if they are to compete in the mass market and yet not every book needs 500 pages - there was one point in the mid Nineties when I must have read more filler than story in most of the titles in the best-seller lists. Thankfully this is all changing in the current climate, with eBooks giving more than one big name publisher a bloody nose.
"If there is hope for publishing, it is with modest presses and modest books, putting out titles for small but loyal audiences. But that's not something that's going to warm the heart of Penguin's CEO." New York Daily News.
It was as if the industry suddenly forgot that the main thing about reading is that it should be fun.
And here comes the eBook - now when eBooks first came to the fore I was sceptical and could never envisage an electronic device replacing a beloved book, but the fact is that since getting my eReader I have found it easier than ever to buy western novels, which is a genre I love and I'm sorry if I don't fit into the demographic publishers love but there you are, and as a result I buy more books than ever. I seldom visit a physical bookshop (since I lost my local Borders, that is) and I buy online from the comfort of my chair, bed. I've even bought books while on the beach. I'm no longer limited for choice, I can now get what I want.