by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
books, publishing

Forget The Doom & Gloom; Look How Good Things Are In The Book Business

from the same-story-again dept

The book publishing business really does seem to be going through the same process that the recording industry went through not so long ago. That is, it's crying about all the doom and gloom. Layoffs are rampant, and there are all sorts of concerns about how the industry is going to survive. Yet, as with the music business, if you step back and look around, you realize the actual book business is thriving. Jason Pinter has written up a post pointing out that this is, perhaps, the most exciting time, ever, for book lovers. That's because a lot more people are talking about and reading books, and there are all sorts of exciting developments in the book world (and, also, he notes, in the movie business based on books). These sorts of things are important to remember. As we've seen in the music business: more music is being made and enjoyed than any time before, and more musicians are able to make money from their music than at any time in history. Yes, some of the big companies in those industries are going through painful transition periods, but if you take a step back and look at the actual market, things are quite exciting and healthy.

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  • icon
    Marcel de Jong (profile), 12 Mar 2010 @ 3:08am

    Keep your realitycheck, please

    we, book-publishers, will do what we do best. We'll just stick to fiction. *grin*

    It's the same story indeed. Old business models need to be propped up by legislation, otherwise they'll all fail, and writers will have no incentive to write another letter.

    Because after all, if the publishers go out of business, there will be no talent left. Same as there will be no movies made, if the big moviehouses fail, and no music will come out, if the labels fail. "We are too big/important to fail" to paraphrase the false notion of the banks.[/sarcasm]

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2010 @ 4:44am

    That’s because there is some actual competition now, independent people are able to write and sell books and not go through the selfish and corrupt book publishers, release them under creative commons licenses even. but th book publishers don’t want this because it creates competition.

    Same thing repeated, they will lobby for laws to crush the competition.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2010 @ 5:52am

    Thankfully our collective view on literature is far saner than the view on music ever was.

    I foresee efforts to crush competition being met with absolute and dismal failure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2010 @ 6:53am

    the last hurrah of a buggy whip business.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      The Mighty Buzzard, 12 Mar 2010 @ 9:37am


      Not remotely. Hardcopy books will always continue to sell because they offer the scarce value of an actual printed book. If printing and binding your own books were as cheap as burning a cd/dvd, you might have a point. But they aren't, and you don't.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, 12 Mar 2010 @ 7:05am

    why i read and gather books

    because my net is soon to be capped, its already throttled during when i want to use it
    and soon also user based billed , which means for me and loads of others the net is too expensive and at least ill have somehting to occupy and waste time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    techno_rattus (profile), 12 Mar 2010 @ 9:31am

    This is not a simple subject

    I'm speaking here because I have 10 years in the book business. I don't run a shop, I'm in the supporting industries. There is a big difference between the statements of "Business is good in the book business" and "Business is good in the book publishing business". I work with indipendant shops and see how hard those folks work and how small their profit margin really is. Independant bookshops aren't there to make a ton of money, they're mostly there because it's been their dream to run a bookstore.

    What I'm seeing right now is hundreds of small businesses struggling to stay afloat when brick and mortor sales are down an average of 12-15% across the country. My own employer has been struggling to get any kind of new sales just to stay afloat, last fall one staff member was let go due to lack of sales. We have a smaller staff now that is working harder than ever. Ultimately due to a variety of factors I think we all feel like we're working twice as hard than before for about 15% less pay.

    To put up my own opinion here, I'm irritated by the dearth of indipendant booksellers that are adverse to technology and almost refuse to learn anything new. As a woman in the tech industry who's helped thousands of stores/customers I'm pissed that I work so hard to help these stores who are already struggling and but they refuse to learn anything new to help themselves and yet want to whine about how Amazon is kicking their asses.

    Ultimately, after 10 years in this particular industry, I've had about enough and am thinking of leaving it for some other industry that actually wants to use technology to keep up with the competition and learn new things. Yes it's getting harder to survive as an independant bookseller even if the publishers make as much as some people like to spout. But, if an industry can't manage to pay it's support people reasonably enough, then perhaps they're not making enough money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      jjmsan (profile), 12 Mar 2010 @ 10:16am

      Re: This is not a simple subject

      Blockbuster used to talk about how they were going to burn DVD's so you could always get the movies you wanted and they would never be out of stock. I wonder what would happen if independant sellers had a server that would allow them to download and print books in their shop?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        BearGriz72 (profile), 12 Mar 2010 @ 11:42am

        On-Demand Book Publishing

        The Technology is already there for that kind of setup. I have heard of (but not seen) the idea of a small bookstore using it that way.

        "Print on demand with digital technology is used as a way of printing items for a fixed cost per copy, regardless of the size of the order. While the unit price of each physical copy printed is higher than with offset printing, the average cost is lower for very small print runs, because setup costs are much higher for offset printing.
        POD has other business benefits besides lower costs (for small runs):
        * Technical set-up is usually quicker than for offset printing.
        * Large inventories of a book or print material do not need to be kept in stock, reducing storage, handling costs, and inventory accounting costs
        * There is little or no waste from unsold products."

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Khyra, 17 Mar 2010 @ 4:19pm


    Is the bro michael scott who=ite?
    and does he own the New Zealand Media????

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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