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A piece appearing on the Time magazine site looks at the future of traditional and 21st century publishing and reading habits.
"A lot of headlines and blogs to the contrary, publishing isn't dying. But it is evolving, and so radically that we may hardly recognize it when it's done. Literature interprets the world, but it's also shaped by that world, and we're living through one of the greatest economic and technological transformations since--well, since the early 18th century. The novel won't stay the same: it has always been exquisitely sensitive to newness, hence the name. It's about to renew itself again, into something cheaper, wilder, trashier, more democratic and more deliriously fertile than ever."
The Science Fiction Blog io9 has a shorter post summarizing the Time article.
As we now know, the outgoing first lady is writing a book, and Scribner is publishing it. It is supposed to offer "an intimate account of Laura Bush's life experiences, including eight years in the White House."
Her husband remains a captive of his own spin, which explains the lack of publisher interest in a memoir by an ex-president. Perhaps Mrs. Bush is more inclined toward introspection and honest disclosure, although according to the Boston Globe, evidence at the moment is slight.
During a recent interview with his wife, President Bush told CNN's Larry King that he likes President-elect Barack Obama.
"But he was so critical of you. Do you take that personally or don't you?" King queried.
"I did," Laura Bush quickly answered.
Publishers turn page with big cuts: For decades, the New York publishing world promised a romantic life of fancy lunches, sparkling parties, sophisticated banter and trips to spots such as the Caribbean to pitch books to sales representatives.
The cushy way of doing business, however, is winding down.
Amid a string of layoffs and pay-freeze announcements, book publishers are clamping down on some of the business' most glittery traditions.
Author Solutions, a publisher of print-on-demand books based in Bloomington, Ind., has acquired Xlibris, a rival self-publisher, expanding its footprint in one of the fastest-growing segments of publishing. Author Solutions, which owns imprints including iUniverse and AuthorHouse, last year published 12,000 titles and sold more than 2.5 million copies of its books, according to Kevin Weiss, the company’s chief executive.
Full piece in the New York Times
Here is another story about this news at Online Insider. This article mentions Walt Crawford.
It would seem the first and last actually famous librarian, soon-to-be-former First Lady Laura Bush, has found a home for her memoir, despite an apparent lack of enthusiasm from several NY publishers.
Scribners is the lucky lady. You can read about it here at Yahoo: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090105/ap_en_ot/laura_bush_book
I wouldn't give a festering bowl of dog snot for her husband but I always liked her. Smart, classy, rational, diplomatic. Seems the wrong Bush went into politics.
She got a lot of money for the book too. More than her husband and close to what Hillary got.
Article in the New York Times:
Book publishers and booksellers are full of foreboding — even more than usual for an industry that’s been anticipating its demise since the advent of television. The holiday season that just ended is likely to have been one of the worst in decades. Publishers have been cutting back and laying off. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced that it wouldn’t be acquiring any new manuscripts, a move akin to a butcher shop proclaiming it had stopped ordering fresh meat.
Bookstores, both new and secondhand, are faltering as well. Olsson’s, the leading independent chain in Washington, went bankrupt and shut down in September. Robin’s, which says it is the oldest bookstore in Philadelphia, will close next month. The once-mighty Borders chain is on the rocks. Powell’s, the huge store in Portland, Ore., said sales were so weak it was encouraging its staff to take unpaid sabbaticals.
Well, it's had a good long run, nearly 600 years. But...is it the 'end of the book'?
Here's an opinion piece by Tom Engelhardt in the LA Times. He has worked in publishing for more than three decades and is currently the editor of TomDispatch.com, where a longer version of this article is published.
From the article:
Worlds shudder and collapse all the time. There's no news in that. Just ask the Assyrians, the last emperor of the Han Dynasty, the final Romanoff or Napoleon -- or Bernard Madoff. But when it seems to be happening to your world, well, that's a different kettle of fish.
Two weeks ago, a close friend in my niche world of book publishing (at whose edge I've been perched these last 30-odd years) called to tell me that an editor we both admire had been perp-walked out of his office and summarily dismissed by the publisher he worked for. That's what now passes for politeness in the once "gentlemanly" world of books.
His fault, the sap, was acquiring and editing good books. The sort of books that might actually make a modest difference in the universe but will be read by no less modest audiences -- too modest for flailing, failing publishing conglomerates.
From Shelf Awareness: One publisher's mistake; young readers' bonanza.
Komenar Publishing goofed on a print order and wound up with "200% more product than intended." As a result, Komenar is donating 1,000 copies of the trade paperback edition of Heroes Arise by Laurel Anne Hill, an illustrated sci-fi novel involving "a quest across an alien landscape," to public libraries that have bookmobiles for underserved people or programs to bring books into schools.
For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 510-444-2261.