The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Not Quite A Crisis


According Carolyn Reidy, president and CEO of Simon & Schuster, a worse publishing environment may be on the way, reports Publishers Weekly:

Reidy said she hesitated to use the word “crisis” but “there is no question that we are currently dealing with a set of problems that will test us to our limits.” Critical issues facing publishers included: significant decrease in retail traffic, less consumer purchasing, a gloomy economic forecast, declining backlist sales, brand name authors continuing to sell but “everything else is far off normal levels,” and retail partners who demand more favorable terms and concessions “as if we are the answer to their problems,” she said. Other pre-existing problems she enumerated include retailers competing with publishers, low barriers to self-publishing, and the economics of digital publishing that appear to bring in less revenue.”

Tough times indeed, but it is not quite the end of the world apparently. Although publishers must adapt to new realities, and change business practices, the current situation is an opportunity rather than a threat:

“now we have the chance to actually find the reader where they are spending their time—in front of a screen—and cement a relationship with them through e-mail newsletters, viral marketing, mobile delivery and other tools.” Publishing survives, she noted, because readers have a fundamental need for information, inspiration, and entertainment, “and they get that in a book, directly from an author, in an unfiltered way that they cannot get from any other medium.”

Notably, Reidy urges publishers to make entire catalogues available as e-books and to create adopt print-on-demand when a title’s  sales begin to slow.


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