Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Future of Publishing

There have been some recent seismic shifts in the publishing landscape, with dozens of jobs lost, many lists trimmed, imprints slashed, and massive reorganizations changing the dynamic of many publishing houses. After the firing of Publishers Weekly editor-in-chief Sara Nelson (a decision that has spurred some heated opinions), I posted this question on Twitter yesterday:

How will all the layoffs, restructuring and cost cutting solve the industry's #1 problem--getting more books into the hands of readers?

I got some interesting responses, and because of that I decided to try something in an effort to answer that question. I've reached out to a number of publishing professionals in all areas of work--authors, editors, agents, publicists, booksellers, critics and reporters--asking them all the same question:

What is one thing you would you do to change book publishing for the better?

Over the next few days I'll be posting the responses. And I definitely encourage readers to comment on the posts, since you're the ones who, in the end, essentially make or break the industry. And if you're a pub pro who has an answer to the quesiton, please email me at jason@jasonpinter.com with your response and I will be sure to post it.



Blogger Bobby Mangahas said...

One thing I would definitely do is stop giving ridiculous seven figure advances to celebrity "authors". These usually won't earn out anyway. I think there are a lot of new and talented writers out there who are not given a fair shake because of these books by celebrities.

Paris Hilton? Tori Spelling? Even Joe the plumber has a book deal. So in the words of tennis great John McEnroe: "You can't be serious!!"

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No answers, but I AM ALL EARS.

2:58 PM  
Blogger David Thayer said...

Lou Reed once said it takes a busload of faith to get by. Publishers should reconnect with the product they're putting out and show some confidence in their judgment.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Reg / Steve said...

From an ex-small-press publisher, now full-time translator: stop paying huge advances to ANYbody; computerize everything you can think of and then think of some more; dump human sales reps in gray suits and use the Web wisely for promotion; and roll back the unlimited returns policy so unwisely started by S&S in 1946. Get over the blockbuster complex; plenty of readers still like real literature. There are lots of ways to save money if you have some imagination.

Reg Keeland
Translator of midlist as well as blockbusters

6:23 PM  

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