A storm blows in and wakes me up in the middle of the night. So I do what I do best at 4:00 a.m. -- I worry.
For the past week, articles I’ve read and people I’ve talked to are indicating that publishers and booksellers are finally admitting that the downturn in book sales might not be part of a cycle but a shift in how readers are reading and buying and getting information.
Thank you. You can’t address a problem if you don’t admit it exists.
One thing I’ve actually admired about the book biz is that it doesn’t try to be cool. But more and more I’ve come to realize that’s also part of its problem. Movies are all about cool. Music is all about cool. The closest publishing gets to cool is when it publishes books about cool movies or cool music. And those cool kids who used to hang out in the school hallways wearing cool clothes and doing cool things? They now hang out in internet hallways. That hallway now has no walls, and this new world building is having enormous impact. Those small groups of people who all do the same things, listen to the same things, read the same things, watch the same things, are now enormous groups of people looking for what’s cool and individual and different so they can all do it together.
Shallow? Yes. Honest? Yes. Because trying to be James Dean is a part of our genes. I’ll bet Jesus would have emulated Dean if Dean had been around back then.
Most publishers are trend-followers. This can be bad in a world of big wheels turning slowly. By the time a trend is recognized, pointed at, discussed, paid homage to, printed, and sold to the consumer, it’s usually on its way out.
Publishers are going to have to take risks. A hard thing to do when sales are down. And by risks, I don’t mean finding the next somebody who writes like fillintheblank. Right now, the worst thing a writer or musician can be is someone who doesn’t sound like anybody else. Does that make sense????
5:00 a.m. Storm is over. Birds are singing. Oh, wait. They aren’t singing; they’re whistling in the dark.