A few months back I read about how Starbucks was shutting down a few thousand locations. I can say I didn’t notice anyone freaking out and running around, screaming about how coffee was going out of fashion. That’s because coffee’s fine, as we all know. People love coffee, and coffee will almost certainly be around for a long time. But the industry had outgrown itself…plus, they were charging something like twelve frickin’ dollars for a grande whatchamahoozit…. But I digress...It's a great essay and you should absolutely go read the whole thing.
Maybe fewer books get published. Maybe some publishing folks have to look elsewhere for a paycheck. I don’t say those things lightly, because I love those books, and I’m one of those publishing folks, and I have a lot of friends in the industry. But on the bright side, maybe fewer books will mean better books. Maybe, over time, books will regain an elite status that I sense they once had. Maybe, in the end, books won’t qualify precisely as mass entertainment, but entertainment for a sizable if select audience.
At any rate, I think that’s a story I could stand to hear told.
Friday, December 12, 2008
My former colleague Mark Tavani, a senior editor at Ballantine Books (where he edits - among others - the wonderful Charlie Huston!) guest blogged over at writer Laura Benedict's blog where he shares his thoughts about the state of book publishing today. He uses a brilliant analogy to illustrate the way that changes in the book business tend to generate hysteria in ways that major changes in other industries don't: