Did any of you see the front page ad in Publishers Weekly (PW) last month, from ultra-rich, bestselling author James Patterson? The ad says in loud, bold letters Who Will Save Our Books? Our Bookstores? Our Libraries? I didn’t read Patterson’s article in PW, but clearly he believes that all aspects of the publishing industry are in trouble, and that dialogue needs to be started about the future of publishing and bookselling. Hmm. Based on what I’ve read, that dialogue has already been going on for some time, and good things are happening in the publishing industry.
It seems that I’m not the only one who thinks this way. A recent blog by the prolific and business savvy author, Kristine Kathryn Rusch points out that Patterson is a little out of date and not seeing the whole picture from high atop his successful-author perch. In fact, she maintains that the conclusions reach from the limited data he’s collected are just plain wrong, and that Publishers Weekly knows this, however, they received a nice big check for the ad, so they published his article, without bothering to add any analysis, or differing opinions.
Rusch says Patterson is wrong on several levels. For example, things aren’t as dire for bookstores as one might think. In fact, data from the American Booksellers Association (ABA) shows that the number of independent bookstores which have opened since 2009 has expanded from 1,401 to 1,567 (a chart and links are provided to the data).
Second, the rise of the ebook hasn’t hurt indie bookstores, it’s now helping them sell books, thanks to an arrangement between the ABA and Kobo. Booksellers (and 450 of them have signed up at last count) are now able to sell ereaders, accessories, and books through their stores, giving customers access to 3 million titles!
Most interesting of all is Rusch’s take on why Patterson believes the industry is in trouble. It’s fascinating look at the career of a bestselling author, and too long to repeat here, so I’ll refer you to her excellent blog. You’ll learn a lot about the publishing business! http://kriswrites.com/2013/05/08/the-business-rusch-the-year-of-the-bookstore/