According to a January 5 article in The New York Times titled “Puttin’ Off the Ritz: The New Austerity in Publishing” by Motoko Rich, it looks like the glam life of NYC publishers will have to face the hard reality of the current economic times. Gone will be the fancy lunches with authors and editors, the parties and the extravagant travel. And do you know what I think?
Publishing is about putting out quality publications for the public, not schmoozing it up with a big name acquisitions editor. Sure, everyone loves a party, but let’s get back to business folks—those books are not going to write, edit, design and print themselves.
To put it in some perspective, Rich quotes literary agent Amanda Urban: “This business [publishing] was never meant to sustain limousines. … It’s gotten out of scale, like a lot of businesses in this country.”
Book sales have dropped since October, magazines have been slashing their staff and individual titles like a b-side horror flick at the drive-in, and layoffs and salary freezes have hit the big publishing houses like HarperCollins, Random House, and Simon & Schuster. Is any of this great news? Of course not. However, I think we can all learn from this.
Publishing needs to get back to what it’s good at—producing noteworthy (and sometimes not-so-noteworthy) titles for our readers to read. In times like this, I predict that more Americans will turn to their local bookstore or library to pick up books to help them grow and succeed in their personal lives and careers, as well as the feel-good fiction titles for entertainment.
You know where you can find me: In the office surrounded by stacks of business titles, always in search of the great business books of the year.
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