Wednesday, November 04, 2009

If he's scared of the future....

John Grisham is worried for the future of books.

"Paying full price for the books is essential to keep publishers, booksellers and writers in business
Grisham said.

“That enables me to make a royalty, the publisher to make a profit and the bookstore to make a profit,” he said. “If a new book is worth $9, we have seriously devalued that book.”

He acknowledges that this doesn't affect him much, but new writers "are going to have a very hard time getting published."

Prices are going to have to come down insofar as there's a lot of books out there that don't necessarily need to be hard cover. But that's going to mean smaller advances for those who do make it in a traditional sense, ie: through a publisher large enough to spend even a little money on marketing, advertising, author appearances, etc., but with so much print on demand, and so little media review (indeed the humble newspaper is in deep trouble) I'm at a loss as to who is going to find out about all of these books.

For what it's worth, no one in the book supply chain is making huge money on their respective slice of that $24. Chain stores are losing money, publishers are laying people off, and authors...please.

The deeply discounted hard cover is all about creating a psychological price point so that in a few years every piece of junk in whatever form by any schlub who wants to tell their tale can do so in a form convenient to whomever survives the price wars.

Quality, merit, the betterment of humankind, or the slightest whiff of enduring appeal barely enters into it, and Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart and so forth couldn't be less interested in finding the next Barbara Kingsolver (whose book is one of the $9 wonders being discounted at the above retailers.

Quality is hard to quantify. The usual slurry is easier to judge.

1 comment:

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Joan Stepsen
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