Monday, December 5, 2011

I am not alone

Pasted below is from an article that was in today's Independent (a UK daily paper), covering Waterstone's new boss James Daunt.   Mr. Daunt ran a small and very successful chain of independents before being named the Managing Director by Waterstone's new owner, Russian billionaire, Alexander Mamut.    The portion of the article pasted rang such a similar note to my post from Friday, it made me feel like I am not alone being an optimist or at the very least, I am not a fool.  

I didn't arrive at my optimistic disposition due to anything I drank, it is born out of facts that get parsed out of stats that calculate the end of publishing.  One fact is that publishing in the US grew by 5.6% in the last 3 years.  Publishing is a $27.9 BILLION dollar business in the US and while print is declining, digital revenue growth is outpacing the decline in print.  In fact while digital sales = 5.5% of the sales in 2010, digital sales will finish 2011 well over 10% of the total market, if not start to approach 20%.   While publishing's future is uncertain, the wise and the adaptable will be secure and prosper. 

I don't subscribe to Mr. Daunt's opinion of Amazon - if anything they are the wise who have adapted.  Begrudging a competitor's success does not change the playing field, it only skews your vision of it.  The link to the whole story is below and it is a good little read.
James Daunt is alive to the threat bookshops face from the digital revolution, but his attitude is, broadly, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. "You'll walk into a Waterstone's and there'll be a bit of the shop where you can look at e-readers, play with them. We're inventing one of our own – perhaps we'll call it the Windle – and we're working on the Barnes & Noble approach. They've embedded their own e-book, called the Nook, within their bookshops and have succeeded in taking market share from the Kindle."

He adds: "If the bookshop lets you have both and has a product every bit as good as the Amazon one, why wouldn't you do it with a bookshop?"  Daunt makes no bones about his dislike of Amazon. "They never struck me as being a sort of business in the consumer's interest. They're a ruthless, money-making devil." He dreads the physical bookshop disappearing altogether in the digital tsunami.  "The computer screen is a terrible environment in which to select books. All that 'If you read this, you'll like that' – it's a dismal way to recommend books. A physical bookshop in which you browse, see, hold, touch and feel books is the environment you want."

As to the books-industry Cassandras who predict that publishers, agents and booksellers may all disappear in the next five years, "I wouldn't bet against publishers," he said. "The editorial process and the marketing – someone has to do it. I don't think agents are the best people to do it. Authors certainly aren't – they need editing. I think either all three will survive or they'll all disappear, swept away, replaced by one big fat Amazon, getting his way. And if the bookshops go, they will never come back." His combative eyes glitter.

James Daunt: 'Amazon are a ruthless, money-making devil, the consumer's enemy'

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