Friday, June 09, 2006

A Grim Present, and Uncertain Future?

Depressing reading or not, thanks Ron for this link to Grumpy Old Bookman's prognostications about what the future holds for book retailing and the novel.

There's a tremendous amount in the post (more a treatise than a blog post!) and I think I'll be picking up some of the points (especially about growing new writers, print-on-demand and the future of the bookshop) to toss around myself in future posts.

GOB predicts nothing short of the death of the novel, as reading loses ground to other more accessible media. And in the shorter term, he predicts the growth of print-on-demand booths replacing the traditional selling of books.

Michael Allen has also very generously made available a free e-book On The Survival of Rats in the Slush Pile which demonstrates "that success for writers and publishers is governed by randomness (chance) to a far greater extent than is generally realised" and to outline some survival strategies for book-trade participants. Essential reading.


Lydia Teh said...

Thanks for the link to the free e-book.

Ted Mahsun said...

My take on all this is novels will always be around, either in digital or paper form, and will always be around, just like those pesky naysayers who keep predicting the death of the novel.

There may be other forms of entertainment in our present and perhaps future time, but as someone who enjoys these other forms of entertainment (I'm a huge computer games freak, for example), I wouldn't want to spend all my time enjoying them. Once in a while, I just need to relax and curl up with a good novel.

And not everyone writes a novel for fame and fortune, as the GOB claims.

bibliobibuli said...

i also want to be optimistic ... intellectually books make you work harder than other media and we'd surely be missing something if we didn't read

but with a lot of books - especially a lot of american fiction (snobbish, hey?) i find myself asking why i spend days reading the book when a film of the book would have been equally powerful and taken me 3 hours instead of 3 days

(hurray for the books that can't be filmed, that give us a totally different experience)

but i can't see an end to wanting physical books even if we all carried digital readers - they are such delightful artifacts (smell and feel and cover design)

but i do think publishing will change radically and i think print-on-demand will become much more common - and i think this could be a very good thing for malaysian writers who want to have their work avaialble on overseas markets

i too love computer games (especially "god" games)and would not dismiss them as trivial

anyway, i sincerely thank GOB for much to think about