The book publishing industry’s annual three-day BookExpo America (BEA) has concluded. More than one journalist has reported in the publishing world an air of optimism.
Compare that air to six months ago when hyperbolic headlines predicted eBooks, Amazon, the economy, and rogue authors taking down the Big 6 or 5 altogether.
Consider the obvious: All eight of the people I interviewed for our Books That Matter series said they preferred the tactile experience of paper books over eBooks. These people ranged from a novelist and memoirist and book designers to a business consultant, a branding consultant, two creativity book authors, an artist, a leading design thinker, and a jazz vocalist & songwriter. They range in age from 33 to 60s.
We like books.
What I noted six months ago, I’ll reiterate: Books will prevail.
Here’s a roundup of recent publishing news that continues that theme:
Zach Marschall of The Post and Courier quotes Jim Milliot, editorial director at Publishers Weekly, to account for the reasons why paper books continue to do well.
Forbes contributor Steve Cohen explains the Hackathon event at the BEA. “‘A Hackathon brings together computer programmers, graphic designers, marketers and others for a short, intensive period in order to solve a problem.’” That’s an explanation from Joanna Stone Herman, the event’s co-organizer.
The problem? How can books get discovered? How can readers find the books they want? It was an innovative 36-hour contest with a surprisingly cool and valuable winner – a winner that probably will tick off a few novelists who resent being asked to make “likable” protagonists. And when you read the last paragraph, you’ll see vindicated my prediction about paper books.
Laura Hazard Owen, writing for the BEA, quotes Brian Napack, former Macmillan CEO, on what he calls the battle between book publishers and Amazon. His conclusion sounds as if the battle ultimately could be good for customers (although I wonder if it will be for authors).
Wired contributor Rachel Edidin starts by observing how little “digital swag” publishers offered journalists at the BEA. She notes that publishers are reluctant to embrace digital books – and with good, pragmatic reason that goes beyond their fetish for paper and the smell of print.
If you love to read paper books, be heartened. If you are writing a book, be heartened. Just know your options. When the time is right, learn what you can about the book business. The most successful authors continue to be hybrid authors – authors who know when and how to publish a book via conventional and when and how to publish a book themselves.
Thanks for running with me,