Demise of Bookstores?/Where’s the Reader?/What’s Haddon Up To?

May 30, 2006

The Demise of the Independent Bookstore
In an excerpt from Reluctant Capitalists, Laura Miller analyzes the decline of the independent bookstore and the rise of the mega-stores that now dominate the retail publishing market. Good material, easy read. You could expand your understanding of the market by reading Paul Collins' “Chain Reaction” from the Village Voice. Meanwhile the bookstore versus cyberspace is becoming the next debate.

So Why Do You Want to Write for 21st Century America? Is There a Reader for You?
Probably not according to Joseph Bednarik's report “Law of Diminishing Readership.” Here's the tip of the iceberg:

So Many Books: Reading and Publishing in an Age of Abundance (Paul Dry Books, 2003), by Mexican poet and business consultant Gabriel Zaid, and Reading at Risk, the sobering report published by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in 2004, articulate the challenges faced by the swelling legions of creative writers longing to find a readership. Consider the following statements extrapolated from Zaid's book and the NEA report:

1. Production of creative writing far exceeds consumer demand.

2. Accredited MFA programs in creative writing continue to proliferate, while the practice of literary reading is in steady decline.

3. Many publishers require underwriting to produce and distribute literary titles because sales do not support production costs.

4. Publishers can, with relative ease, attract a thousand manuscript submissions—plus reading fees—by sponsoring book contests.

What's wrong with this picture? If you're running an MFA program, a book contest, or a writer's workshop, or selling other goods and services that support the writer's life—absolutely nothing. If you want your book published and read by an audience other than friends and family—everything.

But Jessica Winter in her Village Voice essay, “The Fine Print,” finds out that Johnny Temple, publisher of Akashic disagrees: "In big publishing, the line is that people don't read, and we're all competing for the same dwindling pool of readers," says Johnny Temple, publisher of Akashic. "That's not true. We're going out and finding new readers, and showing people that reading can be provocative and exciting." She also sees the rise of the independent non-profit press.

From Asperger's to?
Mark Haddon shot to fame with a novel about a boy with Asperger's. Now he's tackling sex and self-harm. He tells Hadley Freeman about his 'butterfly mind', as G2 begins a week of reports from the Hay Festival.”


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