Where Are All The Books?
One thing that has struck me in recent months, is how bare the remaining bookstores' shelves are.
I cannot remember a time when I have seen the same titles I saw three months ago, but no new ones! If you look hard in the larger stores, there are a few, but nothing like the regular list of new titles there used to be. I can rarely find anything new to read these days!
As Read Rite Web said in their recent assessment of changes in the publishing industry: the traditional model of stuffing shelves with 'returnable' books, many of which end up getting shredded by the publisher, is clearly unsustainable. Book pricing has gone mad too. Last year, new releases by leading writers were selling on a Buy-two-get-one-free basis - now it's Buy-one-get-one-free! How does an author make a living on those margins?
I love browsing bookstores, which is fine if you don't mind getting a crick in your neck! Internet browsing is more comfortable, but you need to have some idea of what you are looking for and it can be even more time-consuming as clicking through the book blurb, excerpts, customer reviews and 'Buyers-who-bought-this lists'.
Everywhere I go, people are reading from hand held devices, from IPhones, E-Readers and the new I-Pad which lists the books on virtual shelves, like Goodreads and Shelfari. I also read an article recently about schools turning to electronic files for textbooks, which are a major part of their annual budget. Most school age children are used to reading from a screen so this will not be a problem, and they can travel light. So will e-books and POD become the norm sooner than we think?
Readers also don't have to rely on the publishers' PR machine to hear about new or favourite authors. Writers put everything into the public domain on blogs these days. They [we] talk about their booksignings, conferences, upcoming events, their research and storylines - as they happen.
So maybe even a dinosaur like me will have to face it eventually. In the meantime, I still want to walk into Waterstones and see my title up on a shelf - preferably not the 50p bargain bucket by the door either!