Publishing: Not In Such Bad Shape After All?

The long-awaited BookStats report has been released, leading some to immediately conclude that publishing is actually in pretty good shape – despite the doom-mongering from certain quarters (such as, I suppose, from me). In case you don’t know, BookStats is the most comprehensive survey of the US publishing industry to date, produced jointly by the Book Industry Study Group and the American Association of Publishers (AAP) – collating data from nearly 2,000 publishers, large and small. I’m not going to go into too much detail on its findings, as I haven’t actually read the report (it costs $600) and I am only working from the public summaries. (And if anyone spots any detailed analysis out there by someone who has Read More…

Borders Inches Closer to Liquidation. What Happens Next?

The deadline to save Borders passed yesterday, meaning that they will now proceed to a bankruptcy-court auction tomorrow. It’s not quite over for America’s second-largest bookstore chain, and a bidder could still emerge in the next day-and-a-half to save the company – which employs nearly 11,000 people – from being liquidated. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported today that Books-A-Million were in talks late last night about a deal. However, it seems clear that even if this move comes off, which is doubtful, it will only rescue part of the company, and a large amount of (further) store closures and layoffs is unavoidable. It seems likely now that the bones of Borders will be picked apart, and the remaining Read More…

Major US Agency Moves Into Publishing. Or Do They?

It seems like the big news stories are coming every day now. That’s what happens when you combine the disruptive power of the internet with a revolutionary change like digital self-publishing. In an announcement that is sure to cause some surprise, Dystel & Goderich – agents for Barack Obama, Judge Judy, John Locke, Joy Bauer, David Morell, and Richard Dreyfuss – have announced a move into publishing. Or have they? I have made my feelings about agents moving into publishing quite clear on a number of occasions, and have always attempted to highlight the egregious practices that are becoming more common. However, before we grab the pitchforks and march on 5th Avenue, I’m going to ask for a moment to Read More…

Changes in the Publishing Industry

The publishing industry is in the throes of some pretty major changes, and the full effects will take years to play out.  Hardly a week goes by without distressing headlines.  Publishers are downsizing, booksellers are going to the wall, even distributors are feeling the pinch. The roots of publishers’ woes can be traced back to the Great Depression when booksellers insisted on a returns policy that would allow them to ship back unsold books.  This policy kept booksellers (and some publishers) afloat during some tumultuous economic times. When the economy rebounded in the run up to WWII, and expanded in its aftermath, this policy remained in place, and still exists today.  This has had a number of important effects.