Friday, January 23, 2009

Is Publishing Broken?

Though a lot of people have been forecasting doom and gloom for the publishing industry, some of us have remained confident that not all change is bad. As we remarked in our Best Books of 2008 feature back in December:
The sky is falling. And it has been for some time. The past 12 months have produced the sorts of calamities that can start panics. And it seems that, as delighted with the economy as everyone seemed to be 12 and certainly 24 months ago, they are now willing to believe it’s all coming apart. The reality is this: you must have downs. If you did not, how would you even recognize the ups? It’s all physics. There’s change ahead? Sure. But there’s always change. That’s just how we humans roll.
In the new issue of Time Magazine, on sale today, Lev Grossman offers up a sharp assessment of publishing as we find it at the earliest part of the 21st century. As Grossman points out:
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.
But what, exactly, does that look like? As Grossman points out, there are many possibilities. It’s enjoyable to look over his shoulder at his crystal ball. While he’s about it, he considers some of the things that aren’t right with the industry:
What’s the Matter with Publishing?

It isn’t the audience. People are still reading. According to a National Endowment for the Arts study released on Jan. 12, literary reading by adults has actually increased 3.5% since 2002, the first such increase in 26 years. So that's not the problem. What is?
Grossman’s piece is lengthy, well considered and it’s here.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Ian Kaplan said...

Why does anyone listen to Lev Grossman? He wrote an extremely mediocre novel, Codex and an novel that vanished without much of a trace, titled Warp. Regarding warp, Grossman admitted in the pages of Salon that he submitted reviews of his own book on Amazon under other names in a pathetic attempt to boost his Amazon rating. So tell me again, why does anyone listen to him?

Friday, January 23, 2009 at 8:58:00 PM PST  
Blogger Linda L. Richards said...

Because he's not a sheep. And he writes well. And he's willing to think thoughts that not everyone is thinking. Have you read the piece in question? There's some pretty interesting stuff there.

Friday, January 23, 2009 at 10:06:00 PM PST  

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