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An Industry Turned Upside Down: Book Publishing Faces Huge Changes

An Industry Turned Upside Down: Book Publishing Faces Huge Changes
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In light of the recent collapse of the Borders corporation, things are looking shaky for booksellers, publishers and writers alike. Borders’ demise is the first major sign that those who predicted that Amazon and ebooks would run traditional bookstores out of business may be right.

For those of us preparing to enter the book industry, it is terrifying.

This New York Times article discusses how the issue of electronic media in publishing is dominating conversation within the industry. Students at Columbia University’s six-week Publishing Course have been inundated with the message that everything about publishing is changing — and there are no guarantees about what aspects of the industry will survive the shift.

One of the lecturers, Douglas Stewart of Sterling Lord Literistic, is quoted in the article as saying, “It is a really scary time to go into the business, and I’m sure they’re hearing that.  We’re all thinking that as we look out at the sea of eager faces — I wonder if they should be doing that right now?”

As a student currently enrolled in the Denver Publishing Institute, I am really interested in the answer to that question. The Denver Publishing Institute (DPI) is an intense four-week graduate certification course that introduces students to many aspects of the publishing industry, including editing, marketing and sales. Denver differs from other publishing courses in that it focuses heavily on book publishing as opposed to magazine publishing.

This is my second week out in Denver and I have already learned a ton about the publishing industry — but most of what I have learned is that no one knows what the future holds.

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30 comments

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4:13AM PDT on Jul 31, 2011

Books replaced stone tablets.and the revolutionary wheel starts another revolution. With the planed crowded as it is and worse in the future, information formerly relegated to books now sits in electronic storage.

6:52AM PDT on Jul 24, 2011

I don't think I'll ever get a Kindle or something of it's kind. I have trouble reading from the screen for prolonged time, it makes me fidgety and annoyed the way a paper book never does (not to mention eyes getting more tired). And when I have paper books, I can stare at my bookshelf and be happy in a way that a bunch of files cannot make me.

10:55AM PDT on Jul 22, 2011

In a few seasons there going to be an announcement, that Kimball disorder is damaging to eyesight. Personally, I feel that "real readers" need a book in the hand,to flip back and forward, dogear(ouch) if necessary and tuck under your pillow till tonight. Also does anyone realize that those Kimball things are too thin for people with arthritis to hold? Oh-ooo I shouldn't have let that one out. Anyway its much more economical to get second hand books from Amazon or Alibris, Half-off or paperback swapping for free. Coffee table books-------the great unseens are not going out of style. When i finish a book i drop them off at the old peoples residences, homeless peeps or swap them for free You cant do that with a Kimball thing!!

10:26AM PDT on Jul 22, 2011

I agree with many of the comments here. I don't think paper books are going away, at least not anytime soon. I don't think bricks and mortar bookstores will disappear altogether either. The big chains, like Borders, can't compete against Amazon, but I think Borders going under may actually be a good thing for the smaller, local, "Mom & Pop" bookstores.

10:25AM PDT on Jul 22, 2011

A book is a friend!

12:25AM PDT on Jul 22, 2011

Interesting! Thank you.

10:09PM PDT on Jul 21, 2011

Border's is only a chain of book stores, this is not the only place to purchase new books to read, novels and other subjects.

Electronic devises can fail. real books can't & at a very early age a schoolchild is taught to take care of their books, so this stays with us through life.

Now if they are trying to make a statement about the forests in danger as paper comes from trees and a wood base, then perhaps we need to stop developers from cutting them down for concrete jungle malls & housing developments that are not selling!

7:35PM PDT on Jul 21, 2011

The paper book in the hand is there for years. Even very many years. There are books many hundreds of years old in museums and in private collections and even in libraries. I have a book of my great aunt's that was given to her more than 100 years ago. It is in good shape and I can read it. But my Kindle is just for trying out -I have not yet got the hang of it- and it needs to be charged, updated, and registered. In the near future perhaps "my" Kindle will be passé and I will need a new model with the trouble of learning that and then putting "my" books into the new little machine. I will do it, but I will always buy regular books as well.

7:02PM PDT on Jul 21, 2011

I refuse to use e-books. I love the feel of a real book in my hands and enjoy having them on my shelves. The e-book reader (I tried a friend's once) simply wasn't comfortable and the screen contained far less in the way of words, which meant more "turning" of pages.

4:43PM PDT on Jul 21, 2011

My publisher is of the (hopeful) opinion that e-books will eventually support the publication of paper books. So is my agent. I like both forms. The important thing is to get people reading.

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