The Quietest Revolution
Digital publishing is the biggest thing to happen to books and writing in half a millennium, and there’s a torrent of information on the topic out there on the web. So we hope to keep you in the loop by pointing you to the best of what we find online.
We begin with the question, ‘How bad is it really in the publishing industry?’ At Writer Unboxed, a blog on genre fiction, Jane Friedman posed that very question to some US publishing heavies. Says agent Wendy Keller on the subject of advances: “It’s horribly true that advances are down and so are the number of books publishers are buying. Dramatically.”
McSweeney’s has a feature designed to lighten the mood, ‘Some good news from the world of books’: “…almost all of the news is good, and most of it is very good. Book sales are up, way up, from twenty years ago. Young adult readership is far wider and deeper than ever before. Library membership and circulation is at all-time high. The good news goes on and on.”
Not everyone is so optimistic: here’s a reply, again from resident pessimist Jane Friedman on her Writer’s Digest blog, There are No Rules: “Let’s be clear: I don’t think print will die. But that’s no reason to concoct ‘research’ about publishing that says ‘almost all of the news is good’…”.
Yesterday we mentioned the recent launch of The Daily. Today, we link to it for the first time - to an op-ed by Dale Peck, writer, novelist and critic. His piece is a good, upbeat backgrounder to what’s happening in publishing and how the consumer will benefit.
We also mentioned yesterday that The Daily’s business model is being challenged by the ‘social journalism’ of online magazines like Flipboard (“…a battle between two different kinds of online journalism business models: one is based on old-fashioned content production, the other on curation. It will be fascinating to see how they fare.”) Mitch Joel has more to say on the subject: “It’s no longer about sending people to your website. It’s about being at the center of where your consumer is.”