My big picture is not necessarily their big picture, but there is no denying the publishing industry is in a quandry and facing a dilemma — how to sell books to a public that is opting out of buying books? Sure, we all pick up books, there are book clubs galore, and, of course, Oprah’s book club has made a positive impact on reading across the US, but have you talked to a Millenium lately? Kids are going to the internet for information…so travel books, information sources, even dictionaries and thesauruses are in big trouble. They get their fix on what’s new and trendy from both the internet and magazines…but they aren’t curling up in bed with a book…they are more likely to curl up with their warm laptop for company. And you could see by the show demographic…it is an aging industry. Were there some GREAT professionals there? Yes. Absolutely. And the greatest of them were opening their minds to look for future trends in an uncertain future.
My thoughts were somewhat different. I walked around, lugging pounds upon pounds of advance copies, signed author copies, catalogues and promo items from literally hundreds of book reps and I kept wondering why there weren’t docking stations where I could either download the advance copies to my iPod or to a flash drive, rather than shuttle the weight the length of the convention center. Many of the publishers look down their noses at books on demand that self-publishers choose (a book is printed as it is ordered) and I thought…wow…what an opportunity. Heck, if I could go to my local Barnes and Noble and while sitting enjoying my soy chai latte, the book I ordered was being printed up for me to take with me in 10 minutes….I’d be sold. Very curious to see what advances will come up over the next few years. There will always be a market for books, but how that market will reposition itself is the story.