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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    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.

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