Saturday, September 11, 2010

Book Publishing in the Digital Age

As someone who advises authors from time to time and grew up in the retail book business, I was happy to have the opportunity to attend a panel called The New Age of Book Publishing: A Digital Revolution” at the Americana Music Association convention yesterday. The panelists, including attorney Randy Smith and my friend renaissance man Tommy Womack, were uniformly informed and excellent. I confirmed my hunch that the book publishing world is like the music world was about six or seven years ago and if anything the atmosphere is even more like the wild, wild west than the music business.

We know that brick and mortar stores are probably going away; we know that sales of traditional media (i.e. BOOKS) are diminishing while sales of electronic media and their delivery devices are increasing. I learned that there is a huge debate over the aesthetic and quality elements of books on demand and that, not surprisingly, most authors still want to be published in nice hard bound books.

The most interesting question for the future is whether a writer wants to go the self published route, which is as open today as the DIY route in the music business, or whether they want to go the traditional route of finding an agent, who can hopefully place the book with a reputable publishing house. I suspect that this is still the goal of most authors even in the face of evidence that it may not matter economically in terms of overall sales potential. It still comes down to what type of book you are writing, what your potential market is for that book and what your platform is for accessing that market.
Strange days indeed.


Kath said...

So, so true. I have worked in the book publishing biz for 20 years now, and it's in TOTAL upheaval these days. Will be interesting to see how things pan out in the next decade.

Trip Aldredge said...

Kath, I hate the thought of the retail book business going the way of the retail record business. It is an interesting time though.