Is the book business over as we know it? I hope not. An article in New York magazine has some people talking about the subject. Here is their headline: “The book business as we know it will not be living happily ever after. With sales stagnating, CEO heads rolling, big-name authors playing musical chairs, and Amazon looming as the new boogeyman, publishing might have to look for its future outside the corporate world.”
I think I agree that the future might be “outside of the corporate world,” but I don’t have any idea what that would look like. The story’s author, Boris Katcha, writes: “The demise of publishing has been predicted since the days of Gutenberg. But for most of the past centuryâ€”through wars and depressionsâ€”the business of books has jogged along at a steady pace. Itâ€™s one of the main (some would say only) advantages of working in a â€œmatureâ€ industry: no unsustainable highs, no devastating lows. A stoic calm, peppered with a bit of gallows humor, prevailed in the industry.
“Survey New Yorkâ€™s oldest culture industry this season, however, and you wonâ€™t find many stoics. What you will find are prophets of doom, Cassandras in blazers and black dresses arguing at elegant lunches over What Is to Be Done. Even best-selling publishers and agents fresh from seven-figure deals worry about whatâ€™s coming next. Two, five years from nowâ€”who knows? Life moves fast in the waning era of print; publishing doesnâ€™t.”