I am an optimist by nature - enough so that my wife would call it one of my most annoying traits, although she would also be forced to admit we do balance each other nicely. While I happily have an optimistic outlook and tend to believe things will work out as long as you are honest and willing to work, I am challenged to be optimistic from what I am reading these days about the publishing industry. Not only is the sky falling, but the earth is also crumbling beneath its feet. I shared a few links at the bottom of this post that led me here today:
- Mike Shatzkin's blog post on trying to time the end of publishing as we know it
- The negative news about B&N
- PW's reporting on the reality of where all those e-book sales are coming from besides people filling up their news e-reader gadgets - current year on year sales stats low-lighting that mass market sales are down 54%.
I balanced this with the quotes that Shelf Awareness ran from booksellers experience with the shop local Small Business Saturday. We know that pressure over time turn a lump of coal into a diamond. There is no denying that publishing is undergoing a seismic and unprecedented change. The challenge is to find business models that support authors and publishers in a way that is sustainable. The other challenge on the retail front is where do booksellers fit in an ever competitive environment.
Change is also opportunity. Books are not going to go away like 8 tracks or VCRs nor do I think bookstores are going to vanish like record stores or the local butcher. Those that innovate and adapt are surviving and even thriving right now. There are more people reading in more formats and in greater overall numbers. The opportunity generated by the fans that Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, the Twilight series, Lemony Snicket and sooo many more created as people who are inspired by and love reading are not going away. I read the new Wimpy Kid book is outselling the last one by 25+%. I don't know where things are going or exactly what this industry will look like in the next 3 or 4 years, but I know it not going the way of the dinosaur. Hopefully as the pressure mounts and time marches on - I expect the industry comes out a lot like a diamond.
"When you actually have a line of people waiting, it's weird."
--Jeremy Kaplan, co-owner of READ Books, Los Angeles, Calif.
"As soon as I opened up the door at 10 o'clock this morning I had a large amount of people. It helps the local economy. It keeps the money in Morgantown, you know most of the profit made in a local business is spent locally and it's just a snowball effect."
--Jeanne Hagan, owner of Pinocchio's Books and Toys, Morgantown, W.Va.
"It's been unreal today.... I said we need to be part of this. We need to be part of anything that bonds and brings together small business."
--Gay Kolodzik, owner of Frugal Frigate children's bookstore, Redlands, Calif.
"We're up 40% from last year, which is huge for us."
--Liz Barden, owner of Big Hat Books & Arts, Indianapolis, Ind.
"It really makes a difference. More than half of the customers I've had today mentioned Small Business Saturday to me."
--Christine Myskowski, owner of Salt & Pepper Books, OccoquMike Shatzkin Blog - How many Christmases until we see a whole new industry?
Bad News for B&N
Mass-market Paperback Sales down 54%