There was an interesting article in Monday's Wall Street Journal, "The Book Business, a Rewrite" which pointed out the obvious; to quote directly “the economics of the book business are changing so rapidly, the industry barely looks like it did just six months ago". That's putting it mildly. Those of us who watched the slow ugly death of the traditional music business should not be surprised by the speed of the evolution of the book business. Still it is shocking to realize that there is not a legitimate new retail book business within the city limits of Nashville (unless you count Books-a-Million, which I just can't). I often reflect on this fact while driving to Franklin to buy a magazine (we have no newsstands either). To be fair, Nashville has a booming used book business (thanks Rhino, McKay’s and Bookman/Book Woman)and has two new bookstores slated to open soon, Anne Patchett’s much anticipated Parnassus Books and the Barnes and Noble/Vanderbilt University joint venture slated to open in the old Borders location on West End.
From a lawyer's perspective this is intriguing. As a reader who grew up in the book business, I am sort of repelled by Kindle and the whole concept of digital literature but I see the potential for many author's backlists and the few deals I have done in this area have been fascinating. More significantly, I know of some authors with devoted cult followings whose work would benefit significantly from a personal, immediate digital relationship with their audience.
The bottom line is that the book business is transforming itself like the music business, but apparently at a much faster rate. As practitioners and readers, we need to be ready.