The Nation and Salon Reflect on Book Publishing
The Nation suggests that book publishing is no longer recession/depression proof given the number of alternate entertainment sources and the increasing costs of books and that perhaps the Age of Publishing, as we know it, is coming into decline to be saved by, perhaps, smaller, nimbler, more responsive businesses.
Salon posits that it was the conglomerate publishing business model that has led to the current economic crisis within publishing. Salon, like the Nation, argues that it’s indie publishing that will rise along with those who can harness digital technology to their benefit.
“There were hedge fund guys with no background in publishing buying up publishing houses,” says André Schiffrin, founder of the New Press and author of “The Business of Books: How the International Conglomerates Took Over Publishing and Changed the Way We Read.” He explains that corporate owners of major publishing houses expected impossible 15 to 20 percent profit margins in an industry with traditional margins of 3 to 4 percent. “They were part of that whole feeling that you could make money by buying and selling companies, rather than by selling books. At some point it comes to a dead end.”