Sunday, July 3, 2011

Freelance Writing

I am not sure that this author isn't being overly pessimistic, but his concerns are sobering. In particular:

Don’t believe me? Amazon has killed Borders. Barnes & Nobles looks like it’s next. We’re not far from a time when the only vendor for books are virtual stores. And we’re not that far off from a time when print books are so expensive thanks to shorter print runs, folks will be forced to buy electronic media or not read at all.

It does make one wonder about shorter print runs and whether publishing on demand can keep with the cost of mass print runs or not. I am not informed, either way, but if it cannot them it's going to be tough to beat eReaders.


  1. I have high hopes for the on-demand printing industry that is beginning to appear. I was in Chapters (Canada) the other day, and the store has diversified significantly from the world of 'print books'. They have children's toys, household items, scrapbooks, some music (mostly being moved out), and all varieties of books, from novels to 'coffee table' style books and onward. I was commenting to my wife that I thought it was great -- anything to keep them in business so I still have somewhere to go to browse books. They were also quite busy, which was encouraging to see.

    I think once we move beyond the idea that the industry is 'write, edit, print, ship, sell' and turn it into 'write, edit, distribute', everything will shake out just fine. Ebooks are here to stay, but bibliophiles will still want the tactile interaction that comes with a physical book. If we can walk into a store like Barnes & Nobles or Chapters or a UK equivalent (etc.) and browse, find a book that looks interesting, and at the checkout decide which version we want (hardcover, trade paperback, novel softcover, ebook) and pay the corresponding price, there's no reason the book / printed word market can't continue to be vibrant through the next century. We may *eventually* move entirely to a digital book world, but by that point I expect the Kindle equivalents to be easily the match for the standard novel format, with all the benefits of digital storage.

  2. I will admit that I am less concerned about book stores in Canada. The subsidy of Amazon, who collect sales taxes in only a handful of states, is not present in Canada which has nicely closed these loopholes.

    Print on demand seems like the flexible response to practical problems like knowing what to stock (the ultimate just in time inventory). It just has to catch up on quality, where it isn't that far behind.